EASTBIO Student Cohort 2018

Group photo of 2018 cohort - EASTBIO Induction Day - Dundee, 3 October 2018

To find more about our 37 new students, who started their doctoral studies in the autumn of 2018, either scroll down the page or click below on one of the four priority areas each student's research is located in.

Agriculture and Food Security (AFS)
Artificial Intelligence/ Machine Learning (AI/ML)
Bioscience for Health (BfH)

Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (IBB)
World Class Underpinning Bioscience (WCUB)


Agriculture and Food Security (AFS)
Eleanor Adams (Dundee )
Project title: Chemical biology studies to identify potential drug targets in bacteria (AFS)

Liat Adler (Edinburgh - CSE)
Project title: Developing a deep learning-based 3D imaging platform for tracking and modelling whole plant growth responses to environmental and chemical stresses
Personal note: I have joined Alistair McCormick’s lab at the University of Edinburgh. Here, I will be developing a low-cost imaging method to automatically track plant growth. This could be used by farmers of all backgrounds to monitor their crops and improve yields. My background is largely biochemical having studied a BA in Natural Sciences followed by an MSci in Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge. My current project will combine molecular and physiological work with computation which I am looking forward to.
When I’m not in the lab I enjoy climbing, acrobatics and pole dancing which I do both competitively and for fun. Now that I am in a new city I am keen to find some new activities to try!

Liat is also student rep for the EASTBIO Edinburgh-based student cohort.

Amy Lauren Cooper (Aberdeen)
Project title: Elucidating the honey bee immune response and pathogen transmission at varroa mite feeding sites

Alysha Francesca Arabella Knight (Aberdeen)
Project title: The roots of soil and food security
Personal note: Hi! I am a PhD student at the University of Aberdeen and I am based in the School of Biological Sciences. My project is about understanding the mechanisms behind how crop roots interact with soil to extract nutrients and change the physical and chemical properties of the soil. The aim is to establish how we can manipulate root: soil interactions to increase arable agricultural productivity and sustainability (e.g. reducing fertiliser usage, relieving soil compaction, increasing the nutritious quality of crops). Before starting my PhD, I completed my MBiolSci in Biological sciences at the University of Sheffield, where I specialised in palaeobiology. Outside of my PhD, I enjoy spending time with friends and travelling to new places around the world as well as other hobbies such as walking and sewing.

Alysha is also one of our student reps for the Aberdeen-based students.

Euan Mitchell (Edinburgh - CMVM)
Project title: Viral Genome RNA Destruction Using the CRISPR/Cas Effector C2C2

Robert Potts (Edinburgh - CMVM)
Project title: New breeding technologies to enhance resistance to Oyster Herpes Virus

Rosie Elizabeth Barker Spencer (Aberdeen)
Project title: Genome editing and modelling to understand the biogenesis and function of a novel antiparasitic drug target

Mark Williamson (Aberdeen)
Project title: What makes some species highly invasive? An experimental study in the major crop pest Arionid slugs
Personal note:
Hi, I’m Mark and I’m a PhD student based at the University of Aberdeen. My project focuses on the invasive slug species Arion vulgaris and Arion flagellus. These slugs are considered a major threat to food security, due to high intrinsic rates of increase and resilience to control measures, along with the recent EU banning of chemical molluscicides. Their arrival into an area frequently coincides with the displacement of native slug species through the effects of hybridisation and introgression.

Artificial Intelligence/ Machine Learning (AI/ML) (new in 2018)
Jason Nicol Clark (Aberdeen)
Project title: Application of artificial intelligence-driven design of function-directed ligands for selective retinoic acid receptor binding

Samuel Joseph Haynes (Edinburgh - CSE)
Project title: Model-based machine learning of multi-omics data

James Holehouse (Edinburgh - CSE)
Project title: Parametrising gene expression models using data-efficient machine learning techniques
Personal note: Hi I’m James, I’m a physics student working on biological systems. Currently I’m looking at gene expression and will be applying techniques from machine learning and statistical physics to model stochastic fluctuations in molecule numbers for direct comparison against experimental data. In my masters I implemented memory loss effects into a model dictating how children map words to their associated meanings, a process called cross-situational learning. In my spare time I enjoy listening to music, watching films and sketching!
Research output: Link (title - Cross-situational learning of large lexicons with finite memory)

Randeep Samra (Edinburgh - CSE)
Project title: Phenotypic virtual screening - exploiting machine learning techniques to derive predictive models from high content screening datasets

Alice Scarpa (Aberdeen)
Project title: Improving forecasting and management of fish stocks and forest pests using artificial intelligence and machine learning

Bioscience for Health (BfH)
Veronika Ambrozova (St Andrews)
Project title: Network analysis of lateral entorhinal-hippocampal circuits for episodic memory

Grace Bailey (Edinburgh - CMVM)
Project title: Epigenetic control of nuclear chromatin organisation in cardiac development
Hi! I work on heart development both in the lab and computationally. Before starting my PhD, I did a BSc in Molecular Biology at the University of Bath which included a placement at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Tennessee where I worked in auditory regeneration. I then moved to London to work in pharmaceutical marketing for 3 years before making my way to Edinburgh. In my spare time I like reading about dinosaurs.

Christine Jack (Aberdeen)
Project title: Endocytic Trafficking of G-protein-coupled receptors as a novel regulator of inflammation

Kiani Alliyah Jeacock (Edinburgh - Chemistry)
Project title: Understanding the role of post-translational modification in age-related protein aggregation

David Lewis (Edinburgh - CSE)
Project title: Development of robust, quantitative mass spectrometry assays to investigate regulation of human T cell growth and proliferation

Kieron Lucas (Dundee)
Project title: Targeting the biosynthesis of a novel Group A Streptococcus virulence factor

Cameron Malcolm (Aberdeen)
Project title: Uncovering the pharmacology of a novel receptor target for age-related macular degeneration

Holly Woodward (Edinburgh - CMVM)
Project title: How do sex hormones regulate the function of arteries and valves?

Industrial Biotechnology & Bioenergy (IBB)

Margaret Alice Hicks (Edinburgh - CSE)
Project title: Synthetic biology-enabled new generation biosensors for global health and environment challenges

Margarita Kalamara (Dundee)

Project title: Biofilm matrix assembly by Bacillus subtilis

Personal note

My research focuses on how different isolates of the bacterium Bacillus subtilis interact when sharing a niche in a mixed community. More specifically, I am trying to understand which genes and molecules make an isolate a strong competitor against members of its own species


Hannah Amy Lawther (St Andrews)
Project title: Pipeline for Discovery and Diversification of Novel, Bioactive Marine Natural Products

Eugene Moses Shrimpton-Phoenix (St Andrews)
Project title: Computational Approaches for Enzyme Redesign

World Class Underpinning Bioscience (WCUB)

Aaron Alonson Torrens (Edinburgh - CSE)
Project title: Challenging key concepts in neural differentiation: the role of neuromesodermal progenitors in patterning the head-to-tail axis in vertebrates

Matt Colligan (Edinburgh - CMVM)
Project title: Neural representations of movement in the primary motor cortex

Louisa Drake (Edinburgh - CMVM)
Project title: Epigenetic regulation of neuronal regeneration after spinal cord lesion in zebrafish

Sam Ebdon (Edinburgh - CSE)
Project title: Speciation and sex-biased gene expression in butterflies

Matthew French (Edinburgh - CSE)
Project title: Understanding and controlling cell fate decisions
Personal note: Hi, my name is Matt and I’m studying my PhD in Sally Lowell’s group at the Scottish Centre of Regenerative Medicine (SCRM), Edinburgh. Prior to this, I studied a BSc in Biotechnology at the University of Nottingham where I stumbled across regenerative medicine and synthetic biology. I took part in the iGEM competition at Nottingham and went on to study a MRes in Systems and Synthetic Biology at Imperial College London in the Guy-Bart Stan Group; my project investigated burden induced feedback control for reliable gene circuit expression in E .coli. During my PhD, I will investigate poorly understood population dynamics in embryonic pluripotent stem cells with the aid of systems and synthetic biology; this work aims to increase understanding and control of pluripotency and differentiation for future regenerative medicine therapies.

Maria Eleni Kouridaki (Edinburgh - CSE)
Project title: Targeting transient protein states for the design of chemical probes of Cyclophilins function

Rebecca Maguire (St Andrews)
Project title: Attention and camouflage in three dimensions
Personal note: My PhD project is based at the University of St Andrews, under the supervision of Prof. Julie Harris. Prior to this, my work at the University of Bristol (during my BSc and MRes) focused on how animals utilise various types of patterning to camouflage themselves in the eyes of those who want to eat them, i.e. distorting predator perception. While this work was done in a 2-Dimensional setting, animals in the real world are (obviously) seen in 3-Dimensions. Therefore, I’m currently focused on how we attend to objects in depth, and hoping to use this information to better make predictions about camouflage strategies and mechanisms. For example, can predator ability to discern depth hamper camouflage strategies previously found effective in 2D paradigms? And can we gain insight into the best ways to fool perception if we gain better understanding of how we see things in the 3D world? These questions, among others, will be the cornerstones of my PhD project.

TL;DR: Cool patterns on 3D stuff can probably fool your gullible brain. Don’t beat yourself up about it though, it happens to the best of us. Even eagles.

Ana Rozman (Aberdeen)
Project title: Neural mechanisms of colour appearance across the lifespan

Neil Thomson (Dundee)
Project title: Investigating the role of ion and proton transfer in activation of GPCRs
Personal note: Hello, I’m Neil. Having obtained a BSc in Physics from University of Aberdeen, and an MSc in Theoretical Physics from University of Glasgow, I’m now based in the computational biology department at the University of Dundee. My PhD focusses on the activation of G-protein coupled receptors, the most important family of cell surface receptors and currently a major drug target. Specifically, my project looks at how the receptors trigger signal transduction on the intracellular side of cell using a combination of molecular dynamics simulations and empirical valence bond calculations to study the role of ion binding and ion movements through the cell membrane. In my spare time I like to get out into the hills for hiking, biking and snowboarding, and I’m also very keen on music and philosophy

Jamie Conor Weir (Edinburgh - CSE)
Project title: The effects of temperature and habitat on temporal variation in the diversity and abundance of Lepidopteran larvae in temperate woodlands