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Post by Steven Thomson, University of Birmingham

Chamber Repairs

It was a warm morning at the IAP site when my supervisor Zongbo came to take me to the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Science (CRAES) for the first time. We went to the nearby metro station and joined the hordes of people boarding the busy train. Once we arrived at CRAES we walked to the other side of the campus to our meeting, we introduced ourselves and I pulled out a lab book to take notes. This however is when I realised that the entire meeting would be in Chinese; I spent the rest of the meeting scrolling through the talking points that were projected onto the board. After the meeting my supervisor gave me a brief summary of what was discussed, we went for lunch in the cafeteria where I played a game of guessing what meat was in each dish (I did eventually lose and took a bite out of something described as ‘like tofu but not’).

Post by Louise Corscadden, University of Leicester

In recent years, the scientific and global community as a whole have become more aware the threat of antibiotic resistance in China. The latest resistance scare to come out of China is the colistin resistance gene mcr-1. Colistin is a polmyxin antibiotic which the media fondly calls one of our “last resort” antibiotics. This refers to a group of antibiotics usually reserved for highly resistant bacterial infections which are resistant to multiple antibiotics. Before 2015, colistin resistance had only ever been found to be due to genetic chromosomal mutations such as inactivation of mgrB in Klebsiella pneumoniae (Cannatelli et al. 2013) or mutations in various genes in Acinetobacter baumannii. Chromosomal mutations cannot be passed between bacteria via genetic exchange without being first inserted onto a mobile gene sequence and therefore cannot spread easily. However, mcr-1 is spread using mobile gene sequences amongst bacteria via genetic exchange and already has been doing, we assume, for decades as this gene has been located in samples as early as the 1980’s (Skov and Monnet., 2016).

Post by Tom Thorp, University of Leeds

Amazing decorations in one of the corridors within the Summer Palace.

In our free time during the trip we were able to fit in a large amount of sightseeing which was great. We visited all the main attractions in Beijing, including the Temple of Heaven, Forbidden City and Tiãn’ānmén Square to name a few. However, I will focus on our trip to the Summer Palace which for me was the best out of the lot, and a walk round the 2008 Olympic Park.  

Situated in idyllic surroundings, the Summer Palace is made up of a number of temples, palaces & lakes, and rightfully deserves its place on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. All of the buildings were amazingly decorated and all hand painted, it is staggering to think that some of these were made 600 years ago! You could easily take a day to wonder around the different areas, which are centred around Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake, with the latter taking up about three quarters of the Palace grounds. We went on a particularly warm day, (~ 36°C), so we had lots of ice cream and drinks breaks whilst walking round!! My personal highlight of the Summer Palace was the view from the top of Longevity Hill, where you can see Beijing to the left and mountains to the right. This photo doesn’t do it justice!

Post by Tom Thorp, University of Leeds

The group are shown what equipment they have to record atmospheric data

Having visited the IAP field site the previous day, we had seen a lot of the equipment that the British universities were using to collect data, so were interested to see what was being observed at the local University. We went back to Tsinghua University, where the APHH conference had been held the previous week, and met with a PhD student who was our guide for the morning. We started by visiting the Economics building on campus which he explained was where a lot of the data was collected as they have a larger roof space in comparison to the School of Environment. On the (very warm!) roof we were able to look at a range of devices collecting different atmospheric measurements. These included measuring NOx, O3, CO, CO2 & particulate matter (PM).

Post by Mara Otero Fernandez, University of Bristol

Forbidden City View

During the last days of our visit in China, scientific conferences, meetings and visits had come to and end and we enjoyed some free time to visit the most emblematic places of Beijing.

In the afternoon of Tuesday 20th of June, a small group of us headed towards the Forbidden City. This was our second attempt to visit the majestic architectural complex and once again we failed. If the unexpected closure during the previous Monday morning had disappointed us a lot, this time we could not blame anyone but ourselves for arriving at the city gates no earlier than 6 pm, due to a satiating lunch and some great amusement in Sanlitun district the night before. It was then when some TripAdvisor research led us to Jingshan Park, a man-made hill 47 meters high located on the north face of the Forbidden City which was built during the Ming Dynasty by using the excavated soil to create the Imperial Palace. We only needed to pay the mere amount of 2 Yuans to enjoy the best panoramic views of the Forbidden City and an enjoyable walk in the shade of some marvellous trees. Additionally, we were secretly photographed by some anonymous woman who was keen enough, later on, to share her pictures with us.