Student representatives 2017-2018

If you have an informal query or wish to convey your views about the EASTBIO programme to the Management Group, you may prefer contacting directly your local student representative.

Student representatives come from the first-year student cohort and are assisted in their roles by the second-year representatives (as well as the EASTBIO DTP Administrator) during their first year.

Our 2016 student representatives are...

For Aberdeen:

Anneli Lofstedt

Project title: "Strategies to balance enhanced fish consumption with sustainable fish production" (AFS)

Hi! I am a PhD student at the University of Aberdeen based in the School of Biological Sciences. I am looking into strategies to enhance human fish consumption towards dietary recommendations with sustainable aquaculture production and wild caught fish in the UK. Before starting my PhD, I completed my BSc in Marine Biology at Aberystwyth University and then moved further north to Bangor University for my MSc in Marine Environmental Protection. Outside of research, I am looking forward to exploring more of Scotland.


Reserve: Aikaterini (Kathy) Zafeiri

Project title: "Mechanisms via which the human fetus is at risk from over-the-counter analgesics" (BfH)

Hello! I am a PhD student at the University of Aberdeen, based in the Institute of Medical Sciences. My project is about exploring drug metabolism in the human fetal liver. The main focus is to identify the effects of prenatal analgesic exposure (e.g. paracetamol, ibuprofen) on hepatocytes and liver transcriptome and proteome, underlying potential consequences for the conceptus’s postnatal and adult life. This study aims to shed light on fetal pharmacokinetics and potentially raise awareness about drug use during pregnancy, or even set the base for the production of analgesics that are safe-to-use by pregnant women.

Prior to starting the PhD, I graduated with a First Class Honours MSci in Molecular Biology from the University of Aberdeen. During my Degree I undertook a 12-month Industrial Placement at the Biomedical Research Foundation Academy of Athens (BRFAA) in Greece. There I worked within the field of Developmental Biology, investigating cardiac-specific mutations using Danio rerio (zebrafish).

In my free time I enjoy cooking, videogames, reading and exploring new exciting places around the world.

For Dundee:

Fiona Ramage

Project title: "Is there a role for GABA-A receptor alpha-5 subunits in cognitive deficits caused by consumption of a high fat diet?" (BfH)

Hi, I’m Fiona, and have just started my PhD at the University of Dundee! I am working with three supervisors (two in Dundee and one in Aberdeen) studying the impact of high fat diets on the brain. Specifically, I aim to find out whether the activation of alpha-5-containing GABAA receptors is a possible mechanism for the detrimental effects of a high fat diet on episodic memory function in mice, using techniques ranging from behavioural studies to electrophysiology. Before moving to Dundee, I studied for an MSc in Neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh and a BSc in Pharmacology and Physiology at the University of Manchester. Outside of the lab, I tend to cycle through a number of different hobbies, at the moment focusing on climbing and learning the guitar!

Reserve: Sian Jones

Project title: "Functional analysis and development of the Staphylococcus aureus Type VII secretion system as an antibacterial target" (BfH)

For Edinburgh - College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine:

Danny Schnitzler

Project title: "Investigating a role for the gut microbiota in stress axis dysfunction and anxiety behaviour in prenatally stressed rats" (BfH)

Hi! I’m a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh, Roslin Institute. Originally from Austria, I have lived in the UK since 2011, having done my undergraduate degree in Aberdeen, and an Industrial Placement in York. My project looks at the role of the gut microbiome in the stress axis dysfunction of prenatally stressed rats. We know that changes in the composition of gut bacteria is linked to neuropsychological changes, like depression or anxiety. In addition, maternal gut bacteria are conferred to the offspring during birth. We also know that maternal exposure to stress “programmes” the offspring, resulting in altered physiology and behaviour in adulthood. These offspring have greater stress responses due to stress axis dysfunction. My work will investigate whether the gut microbiome contributes the changes in the stress axis and anxiety-like behaviour in prenatally stressed rats, and the mechanisms involved. I am also particularly interested in potential sexual dimorphisms that may be revealed, and the specific signalling underlying these. The project will also investigate whether adverse phenotypes of prenatally stressed rats can be reversed by manipulating gut microbiota. When I am not busy with Science, I like taking my dog for long walks in the beautiful Scottish countryside, spending time with my friends in the vibrant city, or curling up at home with a book.

Twitter: @dschnitzler14

Website (will be live soon)


Lizzie Billington

Project title: "Understanding the mechanism of influenza A virus PB1-F2 immune signalling antagonism" (AFS)

Hi, I’m Lizzie and I’m a PhD student based at the Roslin Institute. I’m studying PB1-F2, an accessory protein of avian influenza A, which affects the immune response. Initially I’ll be looking at alternative start codons and C-terminal fragments of the protein, and later I’ll be making mutant viruses to do a chicken experiment at the Pirbright Institute. I did my MBiolSci in Molecular Biology at the University of Sheffield.


Susi Keane

Project title: "Dissecting the proviral functions of Jmjd6 in influenza A virus infection" (WCUB)

Hello! I am doing my PhD in Infection and Immunity at the Roslin Institute in University of Edinburgh.  Previously, I did both my BSc and MRes (both biosciences) at Newcastle University.

My project is about virus-host interactions in influenza A virus (IAV) infection.  Specifically, I am looking at the role of a host protein, Jmjd6, which may have a proviral function.  I will be doing a lot of cell work at first to try and determine where in the IAV life cycle Jmjd6 is having its effect.  I will then move in vivo and develop a mouse model which does not express Jmjd6 in the lungs and see how this affects IAV infection. 

In my spare time I love exploring castles and historical buildings, as well as getting way too invested in the Great British Bake Off!

For Edinburgh - College of Science & Engineering:

Meg Peyton-Jones

Project title: "Importance of kinetochore-driven cohesin loading at a heterochromatic pericentromere for accurate chromosome segregation during meiosis" (WCUB)

Hi, I’m Meg, and I’m based at the University of Edinburgh, having done my undergrad in Biological Sciences at the University of Oxford. My project is focused on targeted cohesin loading during meiosis. Cohesin loading, a highly conserved mechanism, is vital for ensuring accurate segregation of chromosomes to daughter cells. It also plays a role in DNA repair and transcriptional regulation. Using fission yeast (Schizosaccharomyces pombe) as a model organism, I’m investigating the proteins responsible for establishing the pericentromere; the cohesin-rich area flanking the centromere, which generates tension facilitating the attachment of microtubules to sister chromatids and prevents recombination occurring in this region. Out of the lab I love singing in choirs, dancing, spending time with friends, and generally trying to enjoy life as much as possible. Feel free to contact me about anything and I’ll do my best to help!


Verity Hill

Project title: "How can real-time sequencing of viral genomes help inform epidemiology and public health of acute viral epidemics?" (BfH)

Hi, I'm Verity and I'm a PhD student in the Institute of Evolutionary Biology at Edinburgh! My project is examining the whole genome sequences from the West African Ebola epidemic in 2014-16 to learn why the epidemic was structured the way it was. I'll be using epidemiological data linked to these sequences to run simulations of the epidemic and learn which public health interventions may work best. If there's another epidemic of an RNA virus in the next few years then I will be attempting to apply these models to help control it in real time.

Previously I did a BA in Biology at Oxford, and an MSc in Control of Infectious Diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. When I leave the computer, I'm super keen on music and backstage theatre.

For St Andrews:

Gemma Fisher

Project title: "Mechanism and engineering of a cold-adapted hetero-oligomeric ATP-phosphoribosyltransferase: implications for synthetic biology" (IBB)

My PhD project is based at the University of St Andrews in the da Silva group and concerns enzymology. ATP-phosphoribosyltranserase (ATP-PRT) is the first enzyme in the histidine biosynthetic pathway. The aim of my project is to investigate the mechanism of ATP-PRT. Histidine is synthesised industrially. By understanding the mechanism and important residues for catalysis from ATP-PRT we aim to generate opportunities for protein engineering.I am interested in biocatalysis. The particular ATP-PRT I am working on comes from a cold-adapted bacteria.Cold-adapted enzymes are of interest to the biotechnology industry because of their ability to facilitate catalysis at a lowered temperature relative to their mesophilic counterparts.

I completed a BSc in Biochemistry also at the University of St Andrews so I'm happy to answer any questions about St Andrews in general and the EASTBIO programme.


Sarah Blincko

Project title: "Dissecting the role of Hedgehog signalling during development, regeneration and ageing in vivo using novel phosphorescent small molecules" (IBB)

Hi! My PhD is divided between the Biomolecular Sciences Department and the Department of Chemistry at the University of St. Andrews. Before starting my PhD, I completed my BSc and MRes at the University of Durham. My project investigates Hedgehog signalling in our organism of interest, amphioxus, which is a marine, invertebrate organism capable of regeneration. One way to do this is to look at the effects of disrupting the Hedgehog signalling pathway with chemical treatments. In addition, I hope to develop phosphorescent iridium complexes that can be used to live image this pathway. This work could potentially improve the bioimaging tools available and aid our understanding of Hedgehog signalling in the context of regeneration. In my free time I enjoy baking, reading and travelling.

Courtney Aitken

Project title: "Neurophysiological markers of memory error monitoring across the lifespan" (WCUB)

Jess Harvey-Cox

Project title: "Developmental stress and biological rhythms" (WCUB)


For details of our second-year student reps, see here.