Breathe in, breathe out: welcome Maria Afonso to Real Scientists

regimen

Our next curator is Maria Afonso (@literallyviral_), based out of the Institute of Infection and Global Health at the University of Liverpool. Here’s a little about herself and how she got into infectious respiratory diseases!

I was always very curious and eager for knowledge. My mom is a high school/A-level chemistry and physics teacher, so I guess there’s that. When I was around 15 I became fully invested in going into veterinary medicine as a career but during one summer I did a science summer school at a neurosciences research institute and became quite interested in scientific research. Then, while doing my vet degree I got the chance to assist one of my lecturers in his own research and that was when I decided I wanted to do a PhD.

I am working on feline and canine infectious respiratory diseases. As a veterinarian, my field of interest was always small animal medicine and infectious diseases research is so important as often the agents of infectious diseases go undiagnosed. This is particularly relevant in animals that are housed in groups like in shelters. Knowing exactly which pathogens cause disease and what risk factors are associated with infection is the first, very important step, towards disease prevention.

There will be the people that care about my work because they have or like pets. It’s easy to get people invested in my research when their cat has had cat flu or their dog suffered from kennel cough, they can relate to it and my work sheds light on how to prevent these diseases (and shows how important vaccination is). A lot of people have cats and/or dogs but the research I do is relevant for people who don’t as well: the techniques I use and the syndromes are study have parallels in human medicine and can help better understand human disease as well.

I run a zine project called we are microbes (@wearemicrobes) on twitter. I make science and scicomm zines – we just launched the first issue of #scicomm: a zinetroduction which focuses on writing as a medium/tool for scicomm. I like to hill walk with my dog, Joe and to bake (mostly scones).

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