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Karen Steward PhD

Senior Science Writer

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After completing an undergraduate degree in Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge in 2006, Karen became a research scientist at the Animal Health Trust, UK. During her time there, she completed a PhD in molecular microbiology and evolutionary genetics in partnership with the University of Cambridge and went on to hold a post-doctoral position. Her research focused on the fundamental biology of infectious diseases, outbreak analysis and the development of vaccines and diagnostic assays. In 2017 she left the lab to pursue a career in science communication. As senior science writer, Karen employs her wealth of knowledge and hands-on experience to coordinate and create a range of scientific content, tools and resources for the site and provide scientific support across the teams.

Latest Content

Antimicrobial Resistance

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the ability of microorganisms to resist the killing capacity of antimicrobial drugs, a worryingly increasing problem. This article explores the science behind AMR, factors promoting its spread and techniques to detect it. Looking to the future, ways to combat AMR and alternatives to antimicrobials are discussed.
Industry Insight

A “Losing” Proposition: Tackling the Problem of Lost or Unrecovered Analytes in Chromatography

Liquid chromatography has proven to be an invaluable tool in analytical labs. However, despite being a “mature” technique, there are still some areas that prove problematic, leading to suboptimal results. One such area is the loss of analytes during the chromatographic process, but design innovations are aiming to overcome this problem.

Overcoming Challenges in PFAS Detection

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) became popular due to their many beneficial properties. Unfortunately, these substances were subsequently found to have downsides too. In this article, we hear about the hazards posed by PFAS and the detection challenges faced by analysts.

A Leading Voice for T-Cell Expertise During COVID-19 and Beyond

The unprecedented scale of global scientific collaboration, including the establishment of expert consortia, has played an important part in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. We spoke to Professor Danny Altmann, chair of the Global T cell Expert Consortium (GTEC) about the role that T cells have in viral infections like SARS-CoV-2 and what GTEC is hoping to achieve.

Kombucha Inspires Creation of a Microbial “Living Material”

Scientists have created a “living material” made from microbes that can respond to stimuli from their surrounding environment. It is hoped the material could find diverse applications in contaminant detection, highlighting damage, for example, to packaging, delivering nutrients or therapeutics and even in creating living photographs.

Top 5 Non-COVID-19 Stories of 2020 From Microbiology

In the field of microbiology, COVID-19 has very much stolen the show this year. However, despite media attention and resources being poured into understanding and combatting SARS-CoV-2, there have still been some exciting developments in microbiology. In this list we take a look at five of the most read non-COVID-19 microbiology news stories of 2020.
Industry Insight

A Path to Better Plant-Based Foods

With demands for food rising as the population continues to expand, and the ever-present threat of climate change, scientists are looking for innovative ways to feed society without adding to the planet’s burdens. Plant-based foods are one area of great interest to meet this need.
Industry Insight

Bringing Speed and Simplicity to SEM-EDS Analysis

While many researchers combine scanning electron microscopy (SEM) with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) to examine materials for defects at the micro-scale, the process is often viewed as slow and complex. Fortunately, however, advances in SEM-EDS analysis are bringing a new level of speed and simplicity to failure analysis.

Introducing the Antibody

Antibodies are a vital part of the immune system, playing a key role in our ability to fight infection and in the efficacy of vaccinations. However, that’s not where their utility ends. Find out about what antibodies are, where they come from, how they function and how science is putting them to work in the laboratory.

Taking Cultured Meat to the Next Level

In a study published in Metabolic Engineering, bovine cells were engineered to endogenously produce phytoene, lycopene and β-carotene. We recently had the pleasure of speaking to Andrew Stout, lead author of the study, to learn how these cells were created and explore some of the benefits of engineering in the abilities to produce additional nutrients.