Sujani Gomes

Introduce yourself...

I am a Master's student in the Department of Biological Sciences at the Faculty of Science.

What are you researching and what do you hope comes out of your research?

I study the physiology of ammonia-oxidizing bacteria. These bacteria are key players in the global nitrogen cycle and affect a lot of natural and anthropogenic processes including nitrogen pollution, agriculture, and wastewater treatment. My focus is to study the ways that these bacteria produce the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide. I hope my research furthers our understanding of these bacteria and that by communicating my research to others, I can bring more attention to this often-overlooked field.

How did presenting a Three Minute Thesis (3MT) help explain your research to the public?

Presenting a 3MT helped me to think about the impact of my research. In 3MT preparation workshops, we were told to think about why someone from the public should care about your research, which helped me to focus on explaining my research in a way that tells people why it matters.

What inspires you to do research?

I'm a curious person so getting any result from an experiment that I am able to interpret and understand is such a reassuring and inspiring feeling.

What are three keywords to your 3MT?

nitrous oxide, bacteria, proteins

How has your research changed during COVID-19?

My research has slowed down a lot during COVID-19. I do wet lab work and work with bacterial cultures which are actual living organisms. For about three months, the research labs were shut down which meant my project was delayed by three months and when we were able to go back, I had to backtrack to get my cultures growing and healthy to the point that I can do experiments with them again. Even after re-opening, my labmates and I have to take turns sharing the lab space so that we abide by the maximum occupancy rules. This meant that the amount of work I can complete in a day is much smaller than it would have been. It has been a difficult adjustment, but the health and safety of everyone definitely take priority so I think it is certainly worth it.

If you had to dedicate your research to anyone from the past, present, or future, who would it be and why?

I would dedicate my research to my supervisor Dr. Lisa Stein. She is an expert in the field of nitrification and nitrogen cycle research and she is the person who gets the most excited about all of my data. I have many friends and family who care for me deeply and want me to succeed, but in terms of my actual research and all of my findings, I know that Dr. Stein will value it the most.