Student representatives 2020

If you have an informal query, or wish to convey your views about the EASTBIO programme to the Management Group, or meet other EASTBIO students from your local institution, you may wish to contact directly your local student representatives - first year students who have kindlyvolunteered to represent their local constituencies.

The first-year reps are assisted in their role by second-year reps (as well as the EASTBIO Administrator) during 2020-21 and stay on to help the new intake of students who will start in 2021. As only one person can represent each partner institution, further volunteers are designated as reserves. Click on the name to send an email to any of the student reps!

Our first-year student representatives are...

For Aberdeen:

Eszter Denes
Hi, I am Eszter, My PhD project is co-supervised by Dr Delma Childers (University of Aberdeen) and Dr Edward Wallace (University of Edinburgh). The aim of my project is to improve our understanding how fungal cells initially sense and respond to antifungal agents using the model yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and the clinically relevant yeast, Candida glabrata. First, I will focus on how antifungal exposure over time alters gene expression and protein translation. Later the validity of these observations will be tested on genetically modified yeast created by CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing.

I’ve completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Aberdeen as well. In my free time I enjoy fencing, cooking, and reading fiction.

Honours and prizes:

Molecular Biology Project Prize, University of Aberdeen 2020

Anastasia Leligdowicz
My name is Anastasia Leligdowicz, I will be starting a PhD at the University of Aberdeen using epigenetics (changes in gene expression) and functional genomics (assigning function to genes) to understand the learning and memory of a single-celled brainless blob, the slime mould Physarum polycephalum.

I am a graduate from Queen Mary University of London, with a BSc Honours in Biology. At my time at Queen Mary, I worked as a member of the Hanson Lab researching microbial ecology of Desulfotomaculum (a thermophilic sulphate reducing bacteria found in the arctic sediment). Where I looked into the spatial distribution of the bacteria in arctic sediments, to see that it would reveal about it’s source.

On a personal note, I enjoy spending my free time in nature, climbing, hiking and traveling as much as possible – pre Covid. I enjoy a range of sports such as yoga, indoor and outdoor climbing, snorkelling, scuba diving and cycling to name a few. My other hobbies include arts and crafts, such as drawing, painting, crochet, embroidery, anything creative really. Lastly, I am passionate about politics, the environment and conservation.

Tamsin Woodman
Hello, I’m Tamsin and I am a PhD student at the University of Aberdeen. My PhD project focuses on how we can sustainably increase global food production while conserving biodiversity and is co-supervised by Professor Justin Travis, Professor David Burslem and Dr Peter Alexander (University of Edinburgh). The aim of my project is to integrate computational land-use and ecological models to predict the combined effect of land-use and climate change on pollinators and crop pests, and potential feedbacks on crop productivity. Prior to starting my PhD, I completed an MSci in Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge where I studied Ecology and Systems Biology. I have also worked as a software developer and a research assistant in bioinformatics, and I am looking forward to applying my previous experience in coding to my PhD.

Tatiana Dovgan (reserve)
I am doing my PhD project at the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health where molecular science is translated into real-life health and dietary interventions. During my project I will be looking at the phytochemicals contained in the Arctic berries such as blueberries, trying to unravel their effect on microbiome and understand molecular pathways that change bile acid and lipid metabolism and ultimately lead to weight-loss and anti-obesogenic effects that have been shown in mice and humans. This is an exciting project that will keep me busy working with animal model systems, in vitro models of microbial digestion, and human intervention trials, and I will need all the experience I gained during my MSci in Genetics with Immunology and industry placements at AstraZeneca, The Scottish Biologics Facility and Marine Laboratories, where I worked with transgenic animal cell lines, monoclonal antibodies and phage display technologies. I look forward to working with Dr. Andreas Kolb, Dr. Karen Scott and Dr. Claus-Dieter Mayer from the Rowett Institute, as well as with Dr. Gordon McDougall from the James Hutton Institute, who will be jointly supervising this inter-disciplinary project. And if there is any spare time left, I am sure to be hill walking somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere foraging for wild berries!

For Dundee:
Josh Richards
Hi, I'm Josh, 25 and from Dunfermline, Scotland. I spent 5 years at the University of Edinburgh - carrying out a BSc (Hons) in Biological Sciences (Immunology) followed by a MScR in Biomedical Sciences. I left the University of Edinburgh after my MScR degree to join Professor Rick Maizels' lab at the University of Glasgow - where I have been working for 18 months prior to starting in Dundee. My studies have mostly been on the mammalian immune system - with an interest on the interface between host and pathogen.
My PhD project is asking the question - "How is the activity of IL-33 controlled by the speed of its release, and how could this affect obesity?" In this project, I will be working with Dr Henry McSorley and Professor Simon Arthur at the University of Dundee - also with Dr Cecile Benezech at the University of Edinburgh.

For Edinburgh - CMVM:
Katie Dubarry

Hannah Farley

Katherine Pickup
I am undertaking my PhD project in Professor Richard Meehan’s lab at the Institute for Genetics and Molecular Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, co supervised by Prof. Sari Pennings (Edinburgh) and Prof. Frank Gunn-Moore (St. Andrews).

My project is aimed at understanding fundamental epigenetic processes in embryonic development. These mechanisms are involved in regulating gene expression during the differentiation of stem cells into the range of cell types present in an adult organism, however their exact roles at different stages are unclear. Part of my project will involve generating 3D cell models of the early embryo as well as imaging by light sheet microscopy.

Previously I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of York during which I spent a year doing a research placement at the Centre for Genomic Regulation in Barcelona. Experiences at both institutes got me interested in epigenetics, gene regulation and microscopy. Since graduating I have also worked as an intern in the technology transfer department of Cancer Research UK. Outside the lab I enjoy baking and exploring the beautiful Scottish outdoors.

Alexandra Florea
Hi, I’m Alex. Before starting my journey as a postgraduate student, I worked for two years under the Scottish Aquaculture group in Aberdeen focusing on salmonid immunology, viral kinetics and transcriptomics.  Now, I am a PhD student at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh working under Prof Ross Houston and Dr. Diego Robledo. The main goal of my project is to generate whiteleg shrimp that are resistant to whitespot syndrome virus (WSSV), one of the most widespread and lethal viruses for shrimp populations. The experimental work will require understanding the mechanisms of host response to the virus to generate potential targets, and optimization of genome editing techniques in shrimp.


For Edinburgh - CSE

Michaela Kompauerova
Personal note: TBC 

For Moredun Research Institute:

Eilidh Geddes
Hello, I am Eilidh and I have recently started my PhD studentship at Moredun Research Institute, in collaboration with the SRUC and University of Edinburgh. This project aims to optimise internal parasite control on hill and upland sheep farms at a farm level. Hill and upland sheep farming represents around 60% of the whole agricultural area in Scotland, yet is becoming increasingly challenging particularly due to parasite infections. Therefore, effective parasite management is essential, especially when faced with increasing resistance to anthelmintic products.

I previously completed BSc in Veterinary Biosciences from the University of Glasgow, with my final year project investigating the occurrence and pathogenicity of adult rumen fluke. I have also since completed a 12-month Master of Veterinary Medicine by research programme, also at the University of Glasgow, to improve the use of existing and new data sources for the scanning surveillance of sheep scab.

Away from research I enjoy baking, playing in a big band, and I also run a small business drawing pet portraits.


For St Andrews:
Anna Zolotariof
Hello everyone! I am Anna and I have just started my PhD at the University of St Andrews. My research will explore the biotechnological potential of GH68 family fructosyltransferases from evolutionary diverse haloarchaea, and it is a result of the collaboration between Dr Stuart MacNeill and Dr Tracey Gloster. My focus will be to characterise the enzymes and mechanisms of fructan biosynthesis by haloarchaea with the aim to establish a haloarchaeal platform for the production of fructans industrially. This could have the potential to reduce reliance on chemical processes in the current fructan production, improve performance, lower operational costs and reduce carbon emissions.

I completed my undergraduate degree on Biology with a Year in Industry at the University of York. The internship I undertook was at the University of Edinburgh where I researched the salt tolerance of microbes from the International Space Station under the supervision of Professor Charles Cockell.

I am originally from Greece, I absolutely adore dogs, and in my free time I like playing music, reading fantasy and science fiction books, watching anime, exercising and exploring. Travelling and enjoying a drink with friends would be up in the list but for obvious reasons there has been a halt to that.

Laura Gaskell-Mew
Hi, I’m Laura. I have recently started my PhD studentship at the University of St Andrews, under the supervision of Professor Malcolm White. My research will be focusing on developing understanding of the activation and control of complex anti-phage CBASS systems within bacteria.  CBASS utilise cyclic oligonucleotide signalling to provide immunity via the activation of a range of abortive mechanisms, such as endonuclease activity, within the infected cell. These systems are incredibly widespread and diverse with links to type III CRISPR systems and human cGAS-STING. However, fundamentals regarding their activation and regulation are unknown.

I completed my undergraduate at the University of Exeter in Biosciences, specialising in Molecular and Cellular Biology, having undertaken a placement year in Shell Biodomain, Houston. Here, I worked on optimising the microbial production of high value chemicals and confirmed my ambition to build a career within research.

Alongside my research, I enjoy rock-climbing and travelling, both of which I can’t wait to do more of as soon as COVID allows!

For Stirling:
Mette Tollervey
Hi I’m Mette. I previously studied marine biology at university of Aberdeen, and evolutionary genetics at Edinburgh University am now going be working on a PhD mainly based at the University of Stirling, within the Institute of Aquaculture, focusing on the genetics of important traits of farmed Atlantic salmon and the way in which domestication and aquaculture environments interact and affect these. This is with the aim to aid future selective breeding programs and contribute to farmed salmon as a sustainable food source. 



Bethan Riley
I graduated as a veterinary surgeon from Liverpool University in 2016. After this I spent 3 years in rural mixed practice in Northern Ireland and west Wales before returning to academia and have recently completed my MSc in Livestock Science at Aberystwyth University. I am passionate about herd health and early detection and intervention in disease. My PhD project is supervised by Marie Haskell, Carol Anne-Duthie and Colin Mason at SRUC as well as Alex Corbishley from the Edinburgh vet school. Calves are the future of any herd and it is crucial to get the first months of life right. I’m really excited to be working on research that could provide tools to farmers in for early diagnosis and treatment of disease. I will also be working to further our understanding of nutrition and immunology in early life. In my spare time I enjoy walking, circus skills and relaxing with my cats.

Our EDI student representative is Annamaria Wakileh
Hi, I’m Annamaria! My project is supervised by Dr Maarten Zwart and Dr Stefan Pulver at the School of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of St. Andrews. Before undertaking this PhD, I completed a BSc (Hons) Biochemistry just across town- at the University of St. Andrews’ School of Biology.

My project aims to investigate the extent to which the brain controls how movements and the finer details thereof are performed, using the fruit fly as a model organism. By doing so, I will be further investigating previous findings which evidenced that the brain’s involvement in neural pathways goes beyond sending commands to the spinal cord for it to start, stop, or change movements, as previously thought. Using connectomics, optogenetics, as well as lightsheet microscopy and voltage imaging to detect neural activity, I hope to contribute to the collaborative effort of producing a full wiring diagram of the fruit fly’s nervous system. I will also be working with Cairn Research as part of my Industrial CASE Studentship to develop or test open-access software for synchronising multiple data streams. In addition to my studies, I enjoy listening to music, painting, photography, reading, and going on walks.

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