Current Final Years
Ashley graduated from Cardiff University in 2019 with an integrated master’s degree in Biological Sciences. During his degree, he conducted a summer project assessing the post-harvest quality in fruit. This project led to an interest in working with plants, especially maintaining fruit quality post-harvest. Consequently, he did his master’s project looking into the effect of cold storage on gene expression in strawberries.
Ashley’s PhD is based at Cardiff University, in collaboration with the University of Bath. His PhD aims to gain a better understanding of how genome complexity and higher-order gene regulatory mechanisms act on nutritional value and aroma of strawberries.
Ryan graduated with an Integrated Masters degree in Biological sciences from Cardiff University in 2019. His undergraduate degree was mostly focused on genetics and genetic engineering, eventually specialising with plant synthetic biology during his final year. Ryan was a part of the Cardiff iGEM team for two consecutive years, with key roles in two plant synthetic biology projects.
Since then, his interest in the field has continually developed, leading him to undertake a PhD in Cardiff University which aims to over-express a complex mammalian protein, P2X7, using plants as the chassis, in order to produce vast amounts of the protein for structural studies. The aim of this project is to ultimately understand the protein enough to design therapies for abnormal P2X7 proteins which are involved in a wide variety of diseases. It also aims to develop a pipeline for the production of mammalian proteins in plants.
Rosie is currently undertaking a neuroscience-based PhD under supervision of Professor Frank Sengpiel at Cardiff University.
In 2019, Rosie graduated from Cardiff University with a first-class master’s degree in Neuroscience. During her studies, she developed a major interest in neuronal information processing, and decided to embark on an academic career researching into the area, starting by undertaking a technique-heavy, relevant PhD.
Within Prof Frank Sengpiel’s lab, Rosie works to find the mechanism by which the structure, connectivity, plasticity and function of the mouse visual system are affected by sensory input, as well as by heritable, neuro-developmental defect.
Luke graduated from Cardiff University in 2019 with a BSc in Genetics. In addition to genetics, Luke is interested in ecology and undertook his placement at Danau Girang Field Centre. Here, Luke learnt how to conduct ecological research and studied habitat selection of raptors as his project. Following this, his dissertation was genotyping the ploughshare tortoise; studying their population structure and the genetic health of captive individuals.
Emily graduated from Cardiff University in 2019 with an integrated masters in Biochemistry. During her undergraduate degree she was part of the university’s iGEM team working on a project utilising plant synthetic biology to tackle the problem of aphids as crop pests. Her final year project focused on the role of the extracellular matrix protein Tenascin C in breast cancer in mouse models.
At Cardiff university Emily will be working on a project with Dr Emyr Lloyd-Evans and Prof Colin Berry which ties her research interests together. Her project will focus on investigating the mechanisms of specificity of insecticidal toxins for invertebrates and some cancer cells.
Sean graduated from Cardiff University in 2019 with and Integrated Master’s degree in Biological Sciences. During his time there, Sean specialised in molecular biology and biochemistry, while also developing an interest in gene expression regulation. This interest was furthered during his master’s research project where he investigated the localization and function of an RNA-binding protein during cellular stress in Drosophila melanogaster embryos.
Sean is now undertaking a PhD under the supervision of Dr Mike Taylor and Dr Walter Dewitte, investigating the molecular mechanisms which regulate muscle development in D.melanogaster. In particular, Sean is focused on understanding how class IIa histone deacetylase proteins regulate mef2, a crucial transcription factor involved in regulating muscle cell differentiation.
Scott graduated from the University of Glasgow in 2016 with an Honours degree in Marine & Freshwater biology. He then went on to study at the University of Stirling where he achieved a Master’s with Distinction in Aquatic Pathobiology. His master’s research involved investigating the efficacy of RTFS resistance in Rainbow Trout (Onchorynchus mykiss) and the knock-on effects it may have had.
Scott is currently studying his PhD in novel methods for early detection and prevention of fish pathogens at Cardiff University with Prof Joanne Cable and Dr Amy Ellison, in partnership with the Environment Agency.
Lainey graduated from Cardiff University with an Integrated Masters degree in Biochemistry in 2019, during which she developed an interest in structural biology and biotechnology. This interest was pursued during a summer research placement, aimed at characterising two potential novel bioreporter genes. With the aim of applying her skill set to alternative disciplinary areas, Lainey completed her masters project in the Dementia Research Institute, where she investigated the role of oxidative stress in Alzheimer’s Disease phenotypes using the fruit fly as a model organism.
Lainey is now undertaking a PhD, supervised by Prof Colin Berry and Dr Emyr Lloyd-Evans, aimed at characterising the interaction of the pesticidal protein, Bin, with its receptor, an alpha glycosidase found in Culex mosquitos. Specific aims include elucidating the structure of this receptor, and increasing our understanding of the specificity of toxin-receptor binding, which will have wider implications for both agriculture and food security.
Nico graduated from Cardiff University in 2018 with a BSc in Biotechnology. Following his bachelors, Nico commenced a MPhil at Cardiff University under the supervision of Prof Eshwar Mahenthiralingam, which he completed in the summer of 2020. For his MPhil project, Nico investigated rhizosphere and soil dwelling Burkholderia bacteria for specialized metabolite production. The 2-year MPhil project provided invaluable experience of an independent long-term research project and inspired Nico to pursue a PhD.
For his PhD project, Nico will investigate the contamination of salad leaves by Listeria monocytogenes, an opportunistic bacterial pathogen responsible for the most serious foodborne disease outbreaks under EU surveillance. This interdisciplinary research project will combine microbiology, plant biology and analytical chemistry to improve food safety through understanding plant-bacterial interactions and developing new rapid detection methods for food borne pathogens.
Dana graduated from Cardiff University in 2020 with a Master in Biochemistry. During her undergraduate studies, Dana undertook a Professional Training Year in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Disease, Cardiff School of Medicine. In her penultimate year, she gained extensive interdisciplinary research experience within the specialty of neurodegeneration and Alzheimer’s disease. However, it was her Master’s project with Dr. Mark Young which solidified her enthusiasm for the field of biochemistry and molecular biology. This focused on developing and optimising NanoLuc® Binary Technology (NanoBiT) to study real-time N- and C-termini interactions of the P2X7 receptor.
Dana will remain at Cardiff University to pursue a PhD under the supervision of Prof Helen White-Cooper, Dr Sonia Lopez de Quinto and Dr Richard Lewis. This will investigate the relationship between comet and cup mRNAs and specific RNA binding proteins in elongating Drosophila spermatids, including their interactions, localisation, translation, and mutagenesis.
Rachel graduated from the University of Liverpool in 2017 with a BSc (Hons) in Anatomy and Human Biology, before undertaking a Master of Research in Biomedical Sciences and Translational Medicine. As part of her undergraduate degree, Rachel spent a semester abroad, studying at the University of Newcastle, Australia which guided her interest in Neuroscience and Neurodegenerative disease. In 2019 and 2020, Rachel worked as a Research Assistant with the Brain Repair Group at Cardiff University and set up her own business, Scarlet River Management.
To continue her interest in Neurodegenerative research, Rachel’s PhD research will include analysis of genetic function and the molecular mechanisms associated with Medium Spiny Neuron development and implications in Huntington’s Disease (HD). The anticipated outcome is an advance mechanistic understanding of the genetic suppression of neurodegeneration, which is a foundation for future new treatment development in HD.
Isadora graduated from Cardiff University in 2019 with a BSc in Genetics. During her degree, she undertook a placement year at the division of Cancer and Genetics (UHW) where she investigated the factors influencing patterns of somatic mutations. She also completed a CUROP placement under Dr Leanne Cullen-Unsworth at Project Seagrass, collecting and analysing data relating to the citizen science mobile application, SeagrassSpotter. For her final year project, she worked with the Frozen Ark Project, under Prof Mike Bruford and Dr Mafalda Costa, on characterising novel microsatellites in the European hedgehog using in silico methods. Isadora remained at Cardiff University to complete a MSc in Bioinformatics, which included analysis of genetic and transcriptomic neurological data in various projects.
Isadora’s PhD project, under the supervision of Prof Anthony Isles and Prof Nick Bray at Cardiff University, will investigate how imprinted Grb10 influences brain growth.
Current Third Years
Alistair graduated from Cardiff University with an MBiochem in Biochemistry with a Professional Training Year (PTY) in 2021. He spent his PTY at the school of chemistry at Cardiff University collaborating with a biotechnology company to streamline the production process of a novel hemocyanin. His final year project was undertaken in the lab of Prof. Hilary Rogers investigating the role of the Arabidopsis thaliana gene SAG21 in the wound response. Together, this led to wanting to pursue a PhD in plant biotechnology.
For his PhD project, Alistair will be investigating how to increase essential oil yields in mint plants through genetic manipulation of key biosynthetic pathways.
Naomi graduated from the University of York with a BSc in Biomedical Sciences in 2020. Throughout her bachelor’s degree, Naomi became increasingly interested in the role of the human microbiota in health and disease and the development of antimicrobial resistance. This curiosity brought her to conduct a Master of Research at Imperial College London during which, Naomi has conducted two projects under the supervision of Professor Julian Marchesi. One explored the metabolome and protease activity of C. perfringens in vitro as a pathobiont for Crohn’s Disease and the second, investigated the ability of buffered medium to support a faecal bacterial community.
Naomi will work under the supervision of Professor Eshwar Mahenthiralingam at Cardiff University and Professor Matthew Avison at the University of Bristol to investigate pathogenic community dynamics, identify metabolic modulators of antimicrobial resistance, and use her findings to improve antimicrobial susceptibility testing.
Standard studentship with associate partner: In collaboration with Swansea University + Cardiff University
Emily graduated from Cardiff University with an Integrated Masters in Neuroscience. During her studies, she gained research experience investigating the effect of risk genes in stem-cell derived microglial models of Alzheimer’s disease. She then undertook her master’s project in the Brain Repair Group under supervision of Dr Mariah Lelos, which looked at analysing the functional efficacy of stem cell-derived cell replacement therapies in a rodent model of Parkinson’s disease.
Emily is now undertaking a PhD under the supervision of Prof Yuqin Wang at Swansea University in collaboration with Prof Meng Li at Cardiff University. The project aims to investigate the interplay of cholesterol homeostasis and neural development, combining both neural stem cell technology and advanced mass spectrometry techniques.
Olsztyn born, Hanna came to England in 2017, to pursue BSc in Neuroscience at Keele University. During her Bachelors degree she mainly focused on learning and memory, molecular neuroscience and bioinformatics. Her dissertation was a systematic review which focused on the effect of free radicals on memory consolidation. Her PhD project will focus on the formation of memories of touch and follow their path in the rodent brains. The research will use electrophysiological techniques and viral transfections. The project ties to her interests of learning and memory, and will allow her to enhance her programming and bioinformatic skills.
Current Second Years
Jack graduated from Cardiff University in 2021 with a BSc Biological Sciences (Genetics). He went on to complete an MRes in Biological Science at Cardiff, investigating the role of the transcription factor TCP4 in gene regulatory networks that control leaf development in Arabidopsis thaliana. Jack’s studies left him with an interest in leveraging computational techniques to help answer questions within systems biology.
His PhD will continue to define the roles of transcription factors in plant development under the supervision of Dr Simon Scofield and Professor Jim Murry. The project focuses on understanding gene regulatory networks that govern pluripotency in plant stem cells, whilst also promoting leaf development.
Salma graduated from New York University Abu Dhabi in 2021 with a BSc Biology and specialization in Brain and Cognitive Science. Her final year project explored the relationship between circadian temperature rhythmicity and chronic social stress in mice. Following graduation, Salma worked as a Research Assistant at the Chaudhury Laboratory of Neural Systems and Behavior, where she expanded upon her research on circadian rhythms.
For her PhD, Salma will further her interest in neuroscience under the groups of Prof Seralynne Vann and Prof Frank Sengpiel at Cardiff University. Her project will focus on studying visual-spatial processing within the retrosplenial cortex of the brain.
Tess initially worked in the commercial application of iPSCs before starting her BSc Molecular Biology at the University of Manchester (2018-2021). During her degree, Tess competed in 2019 Manchester iGEM team, achieving gold and a nomination for best new application. Following her degree, Tess worked for the Caswell Lab investigating Rab11 proteins while developing associated tools. Tess joined the Raff lab in October 2021 for a MSc by Research, where she investigated centriole assembly in Drosophila. Tess is currently pursuing a PhD developing four wave mixing microscopy for correlative light electron microscopy in the Borri and Verkade labs.
Alen graduated from the University of Plymouth with a BSc Chemistry followed by an MSci Medicinal Chemistry at Cardiff University. For his master’s research project, he explored the synthesis and characterisation of a range of different gold(III) compounds that act as inhibitors of specific tumour proteins. Under the supervision of Prof Angela Casini, he was able to successfully create and isolate a series of novel inhibitors ready for further biological evaluation and optimisation into potential drug candidates. Following his studies, Alen remained at Cardiff University working as a teaching technician for three years, where he managed the day-to-day running of the undergraduate teaching laboratories.
Eager to return to research, Alen now starts his PhD project with Dr Louis Luk and Dr Fabio Parmeggiani that aims to develop a computational and experimental platform for the design of stable D-amino acid based miniproteins as tailored binders for critical drug targets.
Niharika completed her Bachelors in Zoology (Honours) from the University of Calcutta (2016-2019). During her penultimate year she developed a predilection for Neuroscience. Her interests were rooted in studying patient histories focusing on hippocampal degeneration. This became the driving force nurturing her interest in hippocampal adult neurogenesis as a possible therapeutic arena of research.
She was awarded the Jawaharlal Nehru University Combined Entrance Examination for Biotechnology fellowship by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India to pursue a master’s in Neuroscience at the School of Studies in Neuroscience, Gwalior (2019-2021). Her master’s dissertation project was conducted at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, where she used computational neuroscience to model the exploratory dynamics in the STN-GPe subsystem of the basal ganglia.
Niharika will pursue her Ph.D. project under the collaborative supervision of Dr. Isabel Martinez Garay, Dr. Florian Siebzehnrubl, and Dr. You Zhou. She will investigate the transcriptional regulation of astrocyte specification across development and adulthood, furthering our understanding of the fate specification of neural stem cells during adult neurogenesis.
Lucie graduated from the University of Portsmouth in 2021 with a BSc Biomedical Science with a sandwich year, during which she completed the IBMS registration portfolio. In her final-year project, Lucie investigated the role of mitochondrial DNA single nucleotide variants in glioblastoma under the supervision of Dr Rhiannon McGeehan. This project inspired her to continue in mitochondrial research and lead her to undertake a Master of Research at the University of Portsmouth.
At Cardiff University, Lucie will work under the supervision of Dr Gaynor Smith, investigating the effect of mitochondrial aberrations on neuronal ageing using Drosophila techniques.
Iwan graduated from the University of Bath in 2021 with a BSc Biology. He spent much of his studies developing a foundation of understanding in Cell and Molecular Biology, Neuroscience and Genetics. During his final-year project, he joined the lab of Dr Nikolas Nikolaou to investigate the cytoplasmic role of the spliceosome factor SNRNP70 using a double transgene in a Danio rerio model.
Iwan will be undertaking his PhD in the laboratory of Dr Emyr Lloyd-Evans, where he will be using new technologies from Nanion and Liquids Research to investigate the latter stages of the process of Autophagy, an essential cellular process which breaks down and recycles cellular contents and organelles. He will be focusing on how the autolysosome recovers after the fusion of the lysosome and autophagosome, a process often overlooked in current models.
Current First Years
Emily graduated from Cardiff University in 2021 with a BSc in Biochemistry, during which time she established her interest in research when collaborating with the IBEX diabetes research group as part of her professional training year. She subsequently completed a Masters of Research at Cardiff University studying the roles of genes involved in maintaining pluripotency within the shoot apical meristem of plants, sparking her interest in pursuing plant research.
Emily’s PhD project will continue within the field of plant molecular genetics under the supervision of Dr Simon Scofield and Dr Tamara Lechón Gómez at Cardiff University. Her project will look to investigate the mechanisms employed by transcription factor TCP4 in cell reprogramming of root tissues, and to establish whether TCP4 is a pioneer transcription factor in plants.
Melissa graduated from the University of Reading with a BSc in Microbiology in 2023. Her final year undergraduate project completed under the supervision of Dr Simon Andrews investigated the stress response to streptonigrin of the gene mbfA in Burkholderia multivorans. Since then, her interest in the relationship between pathogens and the immune response led her to pursue a PhD project in this field.
Melissa’s PhD project is titled ‘Predicting the effects of coinfection on TB dynamics, pathology and treatment’. The project aims to test a pre-existing predictive framework to develop a mathematical model which can be applied to various co-infections to predict consequences. The project is supervised by Dr Joanne Lello (Cardiff University), Dr Sarah Perkins (Cardiff University), Dr Pere Joan Cardona (L’institut de Recerca Germans Trias I Pujol), and Dr Emmanuel Serrano (Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona).
Kerstin graduated with an Integrated Masters in Biology from the University of Bristol in 2020. During her degree, Kerstin developed a strong interest in the mechanism behind how plants respond to changing environments and its application to improve food security. For her final year project, Kerstin looked to identify ABA transporter genes involved in hydrotropism; an adaptive trait to aid plants in water foraging. Following graduation, Kerstin worked for Public Health Wales in a diagnostic microbiology lab, but wanting to work in research again, she decided to pursue a PhD.
Now at Cardiff University, Kerstin will undertake her PhD which focuses on the effects of perturbing polyamine metabolism on development and stress responses in Arabidopsis thaliana.
Hanady graduated from the Neuroscience Research Centre of the Lebanese University with a MSc in Neuroscience in 2017. Her final project was conducted at the Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology in Magdeburg, Germany, exploring the effects of the Jacob protein on the pathogenicity of Alzheimer’s disease in transgenic mice. Then, she spent several years in Magdeburg investigating the cognitive functions of the auditory cortex in monkeys using behavioural, electrophysiological, and pharmacological approaches. Through her studies and training, Hanady aspires to contribute to the development of novel therapies for degenerative diseases.
Her PhD will be based in Cardiff University under the supervision of Dr Ben Mead and Dr Aled Clayton, where she will explore the role of extracellular vesicles in the eye’s normal physiology and disease, as well as their potential therapeutic applications in rodent models of age-related visual decline, e.g. glaucoma, and Human retinal ganglion cells in culture systems.
Brooklyn graduated from Cardiff University in 2021 with a Biochemistry BSc. During her undergraduate she undertook an industrial placement with Cytiva, focussing on bacterial contamination and how this affects industrial processes. Specifically, she became interested in the crossover between gram-negative antimicrobial-resistant (AMR) bacteria as industrial contaminants and pathogens. She was able to further develop this under the supervision of Prof Eshwar Mahenthiralingam in her final year. Recently, Brooklyn qualified and worked as a science teacher, pursuing a passion for science communication.
Returning to the MMI lab at Cardiff, her PhD project will explore the role of multifunctional ingredients in the preservation of home and personal care products, monitor priority contaminants at Unilever and use metagenomics to understand AMR mechanisms further.