Coccus Pocus 2019: A Microbiology Inspired Scary Story Competition
Antibiotic resistance by pathogenic microorganisms is currently a major health concern, leading to a big rise of serious untreatable infections, especially in hospital environments. In addition, biofilms (slimy structures that microbes form around them) further protect the microbes against antibiotics, detergents and the attacks of our immune system.
In October 2019, the Department of Biomedical and Forensic Sciences at the University of Hull launched an exciting scary story competition, Coccus Pocus 2019!
The contestants were encouraged to write a short horror sci-fi story between 500 and 2,000 words, including antimicrobial resistance and microbial biofilms.
The story evaluation committee, which was composed of 8 academics and researchers from the University of Hull and other universities, ranked the stories according to the intrigue of their plot, use of language, character description and scientific soundness. The prizes were awarded on the 1st of November, during an exciting ceremony that was followed by a short reception with nibbles and soft drinks.
The first prize (a £50 Amazon gift voucher) was awarded to Ms Paisleigh Smythe (Year 2 Biomed undergraduate, University of Hull) for her brilliant story Resistance Remains, where an anthropological expedition to Peru is hit by a killer bug.
Mr Diego Morello from Heriot-Watt University got the second prize (a £30 voucher) for his dark story Forgotten, where a lonely explorer comes across a gooey green lake full of crawling creatures.
Finally, Mr Luke Bridges (Year 2 Biomed undergraduate, University of Hull) got the third prize (a £20 voucher) for his story Will You Walk Into My Parlour?, where a team of scientists and soldiers that are sent to examine a disease outbreak is attacked by deformed virus-infected creatures.
The organisers aspire that the competition will be held again and again around the country, aiming to increase public awareness about the important problem of antimicrobial resistance and biofilms, and boost the enthusiasm of young people about the fascinating field of microbiology.
Please contact Dr Georgios Efthimiou, Lead Organiser and Lecturer in Microbiology, University of Hull for any queries.
The competition was supported by NBIC’s Public Engagement and Outreach Fund, which offers grants up to £500 to support biofilm-related public engagement and outreach activities.