A Chat with Mary Conice, a Microbiology Researcher

JU News Desk
Published: October 2018

Research centres of Jain (Deemed-to-be University) are known for their impressive research portfolio. With an emphasis on quality as well as diversity of research, the centres are also involved in product development and consultancy. Several of our faculty and students have made us proud not only with their academic achievements but also in other fields. One such student is Dr. Mary Conice from the Department of Microbiology, who received the Young Scientist Award at the 73rd International Conference on Future Trends on May 26, 2018. The conference was organised by the International Organisation of Scientific Research in Chennai.

Dr. Conice completed her Ph.D in the field of Food Microbiology under the guidance of Dr. Usha M.S, Department of Microbiology, School of Science; M.Phil. in Microbiology also from JAIN; and M.Sc. in Zoology and B.Sc. from Mount Carmel College, Bengaluru. She has, to her credit, eight papers and has papers presented at nine international conferences and six national conferences. Her area of interest includes Analysis of toxin proteins from food samples and MALDI-TOF.

Numerous awards have been conferred on Dr. Mary Conice. Among them are the Young Scientist Award from Caledonian College, Oman on May 26, 2018; Best Researcher Award (Student category) for the year 2017-2018 on March 12, 2018 from JAIN; Best Paper Award by Institute of Engineering Research, Salem on May 20, 2017; Best Outstanding Researcher Award from the Chief Minister of Puducherry on March 26, 2017 in Puducherry; 1st prize for oral presentation at Siddaganga Institute of Technology, Tumakuru on March 12, 2016; Best poster presentation at St. Joseph College, Trichy on Jan. 8, 2016 and a Consolation prize in the poster presentation category at Maharani’s College, Bengaluru on Sept. 9, 2015. In an interesting conversation, Dr. Mary Conice shares her plans for now and the future, her hobbies, and her advice for those interested in the field.

1) Congratulations on receiving the Young Scientist Award. How does it feel?
Thank you. I am pleased and honoured. It is recognition of our research work. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the team for my success – my guide, Dr. Usha M.S. and my family members especially my brother, Terence Mathew.

2) Why did you choose to do your doctoral studies at JAIN?
I chose JAIN for the brand name, homely environment, good infrastructure, and location. I was also impressed with JAIN’s innovative ideas and placements.

3) Why did you choose this topic – Cytotoxic activity of protein from E. coli isolate pe74?
We all know how good street food tastes. We also know the kind of unhygienic conditions most of this food is prepared in, which can cause a lot of health issues such as vomiting, stomach cramps, and stomach infection. Street foods are frequently associated with diarrhoeal diseases due to improper handling and serving practices. This led me to choose this topic.

4) How will this study help?
This study adopted a useful tool in understanding the harmful effects of bacteria involved in street foods. The study has brought about incidences of toxin-producing organisms in street foods and hence, an awareness to maintain hygienic conditions.

5) What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on the detection and purification of toxins produced by E. coli.

6) Stress and pressure are things we all face. How do you deal with them?
I’m the kind of person who stays calm and manages stress well. I also don’t hesitate to ask my family members for advice on handling difficult situations. When I’m under pressure, I do some of my most creative work along with my brother.

7) What do you do in your free time?
I enjoy playing the piano, keyboard, and guitar; do a bit of pencil shading and bird watching too.

8) What are your plans now? And the future?
I am interested in pursuing my postdoctoral studies.

9) What would your advice be for those interested in pursuing their doctoral studies in Microbiology?
My only advice to them is this – the act of pursuing a Ph.D. can be complex, frustrating, and time-consuming but with proper planning and thorough understanding of the task, this can be one of the most unforgettable rewards in life.