Alumnus finds potential new source of antibiotic

Ryland Cairns, class of 2002, has been working on a project that has potentially discovered a new source of antibiotic. “Due to the widespread application of antibiotics in both human, and veterinary medicine, there is an increase in the presence and persistence of bacteria in the natural environment that are resistant to antibiotics.  This is a growing health concern with recent reports concerning these so-called “superbugs”, so it is important to find new sources of antibiotics” states Ryland.

As the environment manager for Muntons, a malt and malted ingredients producer, Ryland recognised that there could be potential to find some good bacteria due to their unique feedstock within their award winning anaerobic digestion plant.

Choosing to study with us at Ambleside, Ryland picked his course because “the location in the heart of the Lake District really sold it for me”. He completed his Outdoor Studies BSc in 2002 after having ambitions to become a climbing and kayak instructor.

Ryland has fond memories of his time as a student, he recalls the fun and the “spirit of camaraderie” also his time spent as the SU campaigns manager was a highlight for him. Ryland is still in touch with a good group of friends from his course “I met loads of fantastic people and am glad I get to meet up with some of them every year. Thanks Chris, Nigel, Tom and Jack”.

Now working for Muntons PLC as their environment manager, he is also studying for his MBA in Sustainable Leadership as well as his CMgr and CEnv status.  “The most satisfying aspect of my job is getting the opportunity to inspire others to embrace sustainable management practises and protect the wider environment” states Ryland.

Looking to the future Ryland continues to work with Muntons to research the antibiotic “We were pleased to find out that our AD plant appears to produce antibiotics that could potentially be developed as a medicine in the future to combat Micrococcus and drug resistant E. coli. Due to the varying nature of AD plants and feedstock it would be great to know what is lurking inside other digesters” And on a more personal note he would love to do more work abroad.