I’m Evelien Adriaenssens, Career Track Group Leader at the Quadram Institute Bioscience in Norwich, UK. My history in phage research goes back to 2007, when I was a Masters student at the University of Leuven majoring in agricultural engineering, but was supervised by Rob Lavigne who was doing some heavy-hitting phage research. I immediately knew that’s what I wanted to research for my PhD, which ended up being a combination of crop protection and phage biology, using phages to combat soft rot on potato plants. During my time in Rob’s lab, I got interested in phage taxonomy and after my PhD in 2012, I spent a month in Guelph with Andrew Kropinski to try and create order in the chaos of phage taxonomy (still an ongoing effort). I then combined my thirst for adventure with that for increased bioinformatics knowledge and did two postdocs in South Africa investigating viral communities in deserts using viral metagenomics (viromics). Based on that expertise, I was then recruited at the University of Liverpool as a postdoc to investigate pathogenic virus communities in the aquatic environment. In 2019, I started my research group at the Quadram Institute Bioscience, where I’m combining my viromics and phage expertise to investigate viral communities in the human gut and how we can exploit the bacteriophages in the gut to improve health. My team currently consists of a postdoc, a PhD student (with another joining in October), a Masters student and an Honours student, all working on different aspects of bacteriophages and gut viruses. I am currently the Chair of the Bacterial Viruses Subcommittee of ICTV (International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses).
As this is an AMA, you can ask me anything, but here are some topics that you might be interested in:
- Bacteriophage taxonomy
- Viromics and how it relates to bacteriophages
- Moving continents for a postdoc
- What it’s like being a new PI