Billy Quilty’s blog

In Summer 2016 wide-eyed undergrads from around the world converged on a small, barren island in the North Atlantic where the Sun never sets and trees do not dare to grow. These valiant travellers climbed mountains and endured hot springs, explored valleys and bravely bought £7 pints. They were united in one purpose: to scoop mud into tubes and discover what lay within.

After a rocky start thanks to Wow “we’re awful” Air, the gang, made up of teams from Colombia, The States, Germany and the UK exchanged pleasantries and we all became fast friends. It was also fantastic to meet more people studying Biology at Reading. We made our way up north through the mountains to the “city” of Akureyri, inhabited by a warm and welcoming people. At the University, we broke bread, feasting on fermented shark, and braced the local tincture as a token of appreciation for their generosity. The Icelanders were great fun and took us out to sample the local nightlife before we got on to sampling mud and water.

Billy Quilty sampling water from Botnstjörn lake in Ásbyrgi.

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Matthew Shepherd’s blog

A first taste of international collaboration as a young scientist – Iceland 2016

The land of Ice and Fire. A place of spectacular landscapes carved by the elemental forces of nature, with a natural beauty unmatched by all but a mere handful of places on the planet. I can safely say that the country of Iceland took everyone’s breath away as we explored this enigmatic and unique island at the start of our arctic microbial ecology field course. We found ourselves accompanied on the trip by a diverse array of people from several corners of the world, a feature which enriched the experience of the trip immeasurably.

Students ranged from the USA, Colombia, Germany, Iceland, and the UK, and were divided into four topic areas and then pairs within those topics that each had a unique aim. I was a member of the Symbiosis group, studying the bacteria living within Lichens with the aim of understanding how these bacteria impact the survival of the Lichen in the diverse conditions of Iceland. I was paired up with Carly, an American student from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, who had joined other students from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth on the trip.

Carly and I collecting field samples of Lichens at the costal site Ríf, near Hraunhafnartangi, North-East Iceland. Photo: Joanna Bagniewska

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Soniya Gurung’s blog

The benefits of fieldwork for microbiologists in a multi national setting.

2 weeks in Iceland doing some fieldwork, meeting new people and getting to explore some of the natural wonders the beautiful country has to offer; who wouldn’t want to be part of this once in a lifetime opportunity? Luckily I was able to participate in this amazing project along with 11 other students from reading to go to Akureyri and work with students from the US, Columbia, Germany and the native Icelandic students to research arctic microbial life.

There were 30 students in total on the trip and we were all split into 4 different research groups: Astrobiology, Environmental, Geothermal and Symbiosis. Within the groups each student was paired up with someone from a different university and my partner, Garrison and I were part of the astrobiology group. I was very happy with this because astrobiology is a big area of interest for me and I was quite excited to be able to actually carry out research and work with microbes which could possibly give us insight on whether life could exist outside of Earth.

Garrison and I taking soil samples at a Mars Analogue Site. Photo: Mark Silby

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Spencer Long’s blog

The month of June often has students bubbling with excitement at the prospect of months of lie ins, guilt free nights out and hours of daytime TV without the stress of assessments or 9am lectures.

One particular group of Reading University students could confidently say they were amongst those more thrilled for the end of exams and June to arrive, although in contrast it was yet another university module fuelling their eagerness for the summer term to end. This small group, which included myself, was set to adventure to Iceland on the famous University of Reading Microbiology Field trip. Accompanied by a fantastic group of UoR staff we packed our suitcases and flew to Iceland to meet up with university students and staff from a combined 5 countries. This multicultural group of Americans, Columbians, Brits, Icelandics and a German were trusted with the task of researching Iceland’s extreme microbes.

The view from the University of Akureyri campus (photographed by Spencer Long).

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Sophie Stephens’ blog

Walking on Mars and the search for oil eating microbes

“Mars?” I hear you exclaim, well, I must admit, it’s a slight exaggeration. Recently I went on an incredible trip to Iceland, the land of ice and fire. So, why did I go on this trip? I went on a hunt for microbes, namely bacteria. Some adapted to living in either extreme cold or heat (thanks to the awesome duality of Iceland), some that eat oil and other petrol based products, perhaps even some viruses of these bacteria!

First picture of Iceland at 3am, photo: Sophie Stephens

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Joe Bingley’s blog

Iceland – The Land of Ice, Fire, Microbes and Spectacular Chips.

This summer I was given the opportunity to explore a truly unique environment. As part of a multinational team of budding scientists, we set out on a path of discovery. This adventure consisted of sampling out in the field, lectures from various experts of various backgrounds, lab work, and a wide array of food.
After an ENORMOUS delay at the airport on our side, we finally arrived in Keflavik, Iceland. We then met our new friends from America, Colombia and Germany, and proceeded to Akureyri. A journey exhibiting the beauty of the country. Continue reading “Joe Bingley’s blog”

Hannah Sampson’s blog

Mars and Mountains and Microbes.. Oh My!

Iceland was unbelievable! Not only was this fieldtrip an experience I will remember for life, but I repeatedly tell anyone and everyone that they must pay a visit to this incredible country. For two weeks students from the Unites States, Germany, Columbia and Iceland joined our Reading crew on a fieldtrip trekking across the north Icelandic wilderness. We were split into four groups: Astrobiology, Geothermal, Biotechnology and Symbiosis. Being in one of the Astrobiology groups my partner Sabrinella and I were tasked with sampling from barren, inhospitable mars-like sites. Investigating these sites was really cool, as any microbes found in these harsh conditions also has the potential to colonise our red neighbour – and may have even once called it home!

Our sample site: Ice on Öxarfjarðarheiði, a Mars analogue site. (Photo credit: Hannah Sampson)

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