Dr. Siouxsie Wiles made a career from combining her twin passions of bioluminescence (think glow worms and fireflies) and infectious diseases. Siouxsie studied medical microbiology at the University of Edinburgh, UK and completed a Ph. D. in microbiology at CEH Oxford (formally the Institute of Virology and Environmental Microbiology) and Napier University, Edinburgh. She then spent her postdoctoral years at Imperial College London, developing bioluminescent derivatives of various infectious organisms. Her work on Citrobacter rodentium culminated in winning the inaugural 3Rs prize from the UK National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) in 2006.
In 2007 Siouxsie was appointed as a Lecturer within the Department of Infectious Diseases and Immunity at Imperial and began to work on Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes. In 2009 she was awarded the Sir Charles Hercus Fellowship from the Health Research Council of New Zealand and relocated to Auckland, maintaining an honorary position at Imperial. Siousxsie was also recently awarded the NZ National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee's 3Rs award for 2011. Her area of expertise is biophotonic imaging, while her research interests lie in investigating microbial transmission and hyperinfectivity.
Siouxsie says that she is completely in awe of the natural world and the power of the scientific method to aid our understanding of it. Unfortunately, people often have the impression that science is irrelevant, boring or too hard to understand and that scientists are geeky and aloof. She believes that scientists have a responsibility to dispel these myths and act as advocates, both for science in general, as well as their field of interest. For these reasons, you will find her writing about miscellaneous science and skeptical stories at Infectious Thoughts on Sciblogs, the biggest blog network of scientists in New Zealand. You might also find her ranting about pseudoscience on the Completely Unnecessary Skeptical Podcast (CUSP). Siouxsie was awarded the New Zealand Association of Scientists (NZAS)Science Communication Award in 2012 and the Prime Minister's Science Media Communication Prize in 2013.
Siouxsie Wiles appears by arrangement with Johnson & Laird Management.
The end of modern medicine?
In ten years' time, will antibiotics still work? Have we let bacteria get the upper hand in the evolutionary arms race? The discovery of salvarsan and penicillin in the early 1900s ushered in a golden era of medicine. Able to protect vulnerable patients from infection, antibiotics were instrumental in allowing the development of many of the modern surgeries and medical treatments we now take for granted. For years, experts have warned that we are using antibiotics unwisely, enabling antibiotic-resistant bacteria to thrive. This worldwide crisis threatens to return us to the pre-antibiotic era within a decade, where a stubbed toe could mean death and routine surgery, organ transplantation, and cancer treatment will become life-threateningly risky once again. In this session, microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles will explain how this crisis came to be, what threats it poses to us here in New Zealand, and what we can all do to help.