We are a team of PhD students from the University of Edinburgh focused on different areas of Biology that decided to make a science documentary, focused on metagenomics, when we had no idea how to do metagenomics or movies. We took the risk and now we can say we have tried doing both, and it is called Hunting MicroMonsters.
In April 2017, Samuel went on a road trip to the Highlands with a group of friends. Knowing he was going, Alvaro asked Samuel to grab some environmental samples to look for new amoebae (that is the plural of amoeba), so Samuel took a bunch of small plastic tubes and collected samples from every destination he visited. Alvaro started looking at the samples and noticed an interesting looking organism collected next to the Glenfinnan viaduct, where the Harry Potter train goes through. It turned out to be the discovery of a new species, now called Allovahlkampfia minuta. So we wondered, if randomly taking small quantities of dirt during a holiday trip ended up in a new discovery, what would happen if we do the same in a bigger and better way?
We started talking about the project and all of a sudden, the chat turned into a plan. We decided we wanted to learn what kind of beings lurked in the most iconic lochs of Scotland. We knew we may not find a mythical monster living in Loch Ness but we could probably identify which types of microorganisms live there. We then talked with Vicente, who happens to be a professional filmmaker and he agreed to make a movie about the expedition.
At this stage we had an idea, we had a team but we were missing the funds for the project. We knew the University of Edinburgh offers small grants to fund students projects through the Innovation Initiative Grants. We wrote up an application and luckily were awarded a grant. After this, we approached different companies and ask them to sponsor the expedition. To our surprise, some of these companies shared our idea and were happy to sponsor the project. Now, we had the money, the motivation and the filmmaker. That is how Hunting MicroMonsters came to be.