Date of Birth: 15th June 1945

What institutions did she attend?

  • Public School 92, New York, USA
  • Girls’ Foundation School, Barbados
  • Queen’s College, Barbados
  • University of British Columbia, Canada – BSc in Animal Science (with Microbiology)
  • The University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill, Barbados- MPhil in Microbiology

Other Achievements

  • IICA Hemispheric Award in recognition of her work on leptospirosis and bluetongue disease, 1987
  • FAO Gold Award- Barbara Ward Medal, 1980.
  • She initiated a programme with Dr Stephen St John to monitor traces of veterinary drugs and disease-causing bacteria in foods of animal origin. It also allowed staff to benefit from training.

FUN FACTS:

Microbiologists skilfully use muscles in their hands and fingers to spin petri dishes while plating out bacteria

June Roach
Caribbean Women in STI

June Roach is a respected veterinary microbiologist and immunologist. She worked extensively on Leptospira, a family of spiral-shaped bacteria which cause disease in animals and people. In 1980, she discovered the first indigenous strain of the bacterium from a dog in Barbados. She named this new strain Bim for Barbados. The full scientific name is Leptospira interrogans serovar, Bim.

Mrs Roach served at the Ministry of Agriculture for over three decades, first as an agricultural officer and later as the manager of the Veterinary Diagnostic/ Veterinary Services Laboratory (VSL). During that time, she conducted extensive research, published in international scientific journals, and consulted on animal health and food safety. She also worked as an immunologist, testing the sera of over 6,000 animals from nine Caribbean countries for bluetongue disease. This work was part of a team effort, lead by Dr Paul Gibbs of the University of Florida and several other specialists including those at the VSL, which resulted in the eventual reopening of the export trade in Barbados Blackbelly sheep.

Much of the early Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) testing done by the ministry on diseases such as brucellosis and caprine arthritis encephalitis (CAE) is credited to her efforts. At her laboratory, she introduced state-of-the-art equipment and techniques, and promoted continuous staff training because she believed this to be indispensable for anyone in a scientific field. Her philosophy is that employees should be supported to work in areas they particularly like.

Christina June McKinley Roach (née Jones) was born on 15th June, 1945 in St Lucy, Barbados. As a child, she loved animals and wanted to become a veterinarian. Her inspiration was her vet, Dr Holman Williams. At university, she took courses on dairy microbiology and microbiology, and she fell in love with this field of science.

Mrs Roach thinks that microbiology is a lot like detective work. One is presented with the case history of a sick animal or individual, and has to find out the cause of disease (i.e. identify the culprit). She cites the example of the massive Caribbean fish kill in 1999 to support this. Experts attributed the mysterious deaths to very different causes: an algal bloom, nuclear waste, and the Kick-’em-Jenny submarine volcano. Using a microbiological approach, Mrs Roach and her colleague, David Elcock (both at the VSL), examined the dead fish and isolated the bacterium Streptococcus iniae in pure culture from fish in several locations around the island. The isolates were later confirmed by other laboratories abroad. Further histological work by veterinary pathologists, Dr Hugh Ferguson of Stirling University, Scotland (a world-renowned fish pathologist) and Dr Stephen St John, head of the VSL, confirmed the bacterium to be the cause of the disease. This work was done in association with a team of marine scientists from the Fisheries Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and The University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill, who discovered that the disease affects certain species of reef fish.


CAREER INFORMATION

What is a microbiologist?

Microbiologists are scientists who study microscopic organisms such as bacteria, viruses, algae and fungi. They investigate how these microorganisms develop, reproduce, and affect humans and other organisms. This information helps in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of infections. Their work also helps to answer basic questions about life processes in microbes and cells. Microbiologists use slides, microscopes, gas chromatographs, and other specialised equipment to isolate and make cultures of microorganisms, identify their characteristics, and observe their reactions to various stimuli. In addition to doing research, they may also teach.

Areas of Specialisation

  • Agricultural microbiology
  • Cellular microbiology
  • Environmental microbiology
  • Food microbiology
  • Industrial microbiology
  • Medical microbiology
  • Microbial genetics
  • Pharmaceutical microbiology
  • Veterinary microbiology

What do I need to study?

At CSEC and CAPE: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics

At the tertiary level, a bachelor’s degree in microbiology, biology or another natural science is required at minimum.
A master’s or PhD degree is required for senior research or teaching positions.

What skills and traits do I need?

  • Love for laboratory work
  • Attention to detail
  • Planning and research skills
  • Manual dexterity
  • Technical precision
  • Good teamwork and communication skills

Famous Microbiologists

  • Kary Mullis
  • Frederick Griffith
  • Alice Catherine Evans
  • Margaret Pittman
  • Rebecca Craighill Lancefield
  • Antonie van Leeuwenhoek
Related Books