13th November 2017 – Brittany N. Lasseigne, HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology

Brittany LasseigneBrittany Lasseigne, PhD, is a Senior Scientist in the lab of Dr. Richard Myers at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology and a 2016-2017 Prevent Cancer Foundation Fellow. Dr. Lasseigne received a BS in Biological Engineering from the James Worth Bagley College of Engineering at Mississippi State University and a PhD in Biotechnology Science and Engineering from The University of Alabama in Huntsville. As a graduate student, she studied the role of DNA methylation and copy number variation in cancer, identifying novel diagnostic biomarkers and prognostic signatures associated with kidney cancer. In her current position, Dr. Lasseigne’s research focus is the application of genetics and genomics to complex human diseases. Her recent work includes the identification of gene variants linked to ALS, characterization of gene expression patterns in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and development of non-invasive biomarker assays. Dr. Lasseigne is currently focused on integrating genomic data, functional annotations, and patient information with machine learning across complex diseases to discover novel mechanisms in disease etiology and progression, identify therapeutic targets, and understand genomic changes associated with patient survival. Based upon those analyses, she is building tools to share with the scientific community. She is also passionate about science education and community outreach.


6th November – Kristine Richter, BioArCh, Department of Archaeology, University of York

Kristine RichterDr Kristine Korzow Richter is a Marie Curie Fellow working in BioArCh (Archaeology Department) at the University of York on proteomics of archaeological fish remains in Prof Matthew Collins’ lab. She received her PhD in biology and astrobiology from Penn State University. She works in an interdisciplinary field and regularly interacts with people in geoscience, astrobiology, biology, chemistry, and archaeology.

She is interested in preservation of biomolecules in the archaeological record, use of animals by historic and prehistoric populations, and the use of the archeological record to inform current animal protection and conservation management strategies.

Her current project, Molecular Ancient Fish Remains Identification (MAFRI) aims to use collagen sequences to aid in fish bone identification in the archaeological record to reconstruct ancient diet and fishing (or fish farming) methods. This method, ZooMS (Zooardchaeology by Mass Spectrometry) is protein barcoding for archaeological bones. She is also part of a broader team working on ancient fish remains across the globe creating a method to reconstruct the dynamics of ancient and historic fish populations to inform current conservation and management practices of commercially important fishing stocks.

Science knowledge has become necessary from everything from making informed personal health choices to understanding our technology; from energy production to feeding the world’s population; from exploring the depths of our oceans to traversing the expanse of space. Understanding how to integrate the increasing amount of science knowledge into daily living necessitates an understanding of science itself. Therefore, in addition to her research, she is invested in science education, both in traditional classrooms and non-classroom environments.

She has taught biology, archaeology, and, pedagogy classes at Penn State University, the University of Bradford, and the University of York. She also spend time talking to the general public about archaeology and ecology. Her outreach activities have involved planning multiple week long classes for children to speaking engagements aimed at archaeology and ecology public groups. Most of the outreach that she does now is related to aquatic archaeology and ecology under the banner of Fish ‘n’ Ships. Follow them on twitter @FishNShipsUK or find them at fish-n-ships.palaeome.org

Follow her on twitter: @dkkorzow
Find her online: zalag.org

30th October 2017 – Emilie Novaczek, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Emilie NovaczekEmilie is a PhD candidate with Memorial University’s Marine Geomatics Research Lab in St. John’s, Newfoundland. She studies marine biogeography and seafloor mapping to inform conservation planning. To date, there has been little data available to study the interactions between climate change, seafloor habitat, and marine species distributions. For example, we still have better maps of the surface of the moon, Mars, and Venus than the vast majority of the Earth’s seafloor. Emilie’s research brings together many data sources, like navigational depth soundings from fishing vessels, to build better maps of Newfoundland’s seafloor geomorphology, sediment types, and associated habitats. She uses this information to investigate changes in marine species distribution on the Newfoundland Shelf since 1995, and to predict future shifts based on potential seafloor habitat and climate change projection.

As a conservation biologist, Emilie is very interested in environmental policy, and her research is often linked to management; recent projects include habitat mapping within a Marine Protected Area to assess capacity to meet conservation objectives, and mapping nearshore habitat of Atlantic Wolffish, one of few marine fish listed by the Canadian Species at Risk Act.  Outside of the GIS lab, Emilie is a scientific diver with experience ranging from Carribean coral reef restoration to specimen collection for biodiversity and fisheries studies in the Canadian Arctic. Emilie volunteers as a diver and interpreter for the Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium, a non-profit catch-and-release aquarium focused on hands-on ocean education for all ages, and as a research mentor for the Oceans Learning Partnership.

23rd October 2017 – Alyson Brokaw, Texas A&M University

Alyson BrokawI am a third year PhD student in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Doctoral Degree Program at Texas A&M University. Broadly, I am interested in sensory ecology and animal communication, with a focus on bats. As a diverse group with over 1300 species, bats are a great system to investigate a range of ecological and evolutionary questions. It doesn’t hurt that they are also cute (#TeamBat)!

 I work in the Smotherman lab, where we study the ecology and neurobiology of bats (www.smothermanbatlab.com). Recent work in the lab has focused on singing and communication signals in Mexican free-tailed bats, networking strategies in groups of bats, neurological and muscular control of bat ecology, and territoriality and singing behavior in African bats. For my dissertation I am exploring how bats use olfaction for foraging, communication and navigation. I plan to address these topics using a combination of neurophysiology, histology, lab and field based behavioral experiments.

 I got my start in field ecology research as an undergraduate student at Cornell University, working with tree swallows in the Winkler lab. I also have a Master’s degree from Humboldt State University, where I studied the communication signals in Yuma myotis (a common small brown bat found in the western United States). I have been involved in field work on swallows in Argentina, cuckoos in Arizona, coyote and kit fox in Utah, migratory tree bats in California and leaf-nosed bats in Mexico.

 As a bonus, I am hosting Biotweeps at the same time as Bat Week (batweek.org), so expect lots of discussions about bat ecology, evolution and conservation, with as well as a mix of personal experience, outreach, #scicomm and #phdlife.

16th October 2017 – Liz Martin-Silverstone, University of Southampton and University of Bristol

Liz Martin-Silverstone.pngHi all! I’m Liz Martin-Silverstone, and I recently completed my PhD in palaeontology at the University of Southampton (but also associated with the University of Bristol) in the UK. My research is based on biomechanics and mass estimation in pterosaurs, the extinct flying reptiles that lived alongside dinosaurs (but are not actually dinosaurs!). I’m currently looking for post-doc positions, and working as a research assistant on a project involving zebrafish for a few months in the meantime.

I completed my BSc in palaeontology at home at the University of Alberta in Canada, where I became fascinated with pterosaurs, and got my first bit of research experience. I then decided to move to the UK and pursue grad school, doing my MSc in Palaeobiology at the University of Bristol, where I began working on pterosaur bone mass. Fortunately, my MSc project led into a PhD project, and I moved to Southampton to continue this work. I’m currently more interested in the evolution of the air sac system in birds and pterosaurs, and would like to work on this in the future. I’m a big scicomm fan (otherwise I wouldn’t be doing this!), and currently help produce a podcast called Palaeocast, and also volunteer with a Canadian science blogging community called Science Borealis.

My week at Biotweeps is going to focus a bit on my own research, palaeontology in general (I’ll try to dispel some of those common palaeo myths), and a bit about what I’m doing now both in terms of research and scicomm. I’d also like to talk a bit about some of the issues I had to overcome as a PhD student, such as funding and university-related issues, and how these things can affect students.

9th October 2017 – Nafisa Jadavji, Carleton University

Nafisa JadavjiDr. Nafisa M. Jadavji is a Neuroscientist. Currently, she is postdoctoral fellow researcher and instructor at Carleton University and the University of Ottawa, in Ottawa, Canada. She completed her doctoral training at McGill University in Montréal, Canada and postdoctoral training at the Charité Medical University in Berlin, Germany.  Her post-doctoral research focuses on understanding how dietary and genetic deficiencies in one carbon metabolism, specifically, folate metabolism, affects neurological function over the lifespan using a mouse model. Her research has been published in Behavioural Brain Research, Biochemical Journal, Neuroendocrinology, Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, Human Molecular Genetics, European Journal of Neuroscience, Journal of Pediatric Reviews, Neural Regeneration Research, Environmental Epigenetics, Neurobiology of disease, and Neuroscience. Dr. Jadavji has been funded by the Federation of European Neuroscience Society (Europe), NeuroWIND (Germany), Canadian Association for Neuroscience, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, National Science & Engineering Research Council (Canada), International Brain Research Organization, Parkinson’s disease Foundation (US), Burroughs Wellcome Fund (US) and Fonds de la recherché en santé Québec (Canada). She is a regular reviewer for the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism, Neurotoxicity Research, Journal of Molecular Medicine and Neuroscience. Currently, Dr. Jadavji is an Editorial member for Updates in Nutritional Disorders and Therapy and JSM Nutritional Disorders Journals. She is also the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Journal of Young Investigators (JYI) and a board member of the Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences.

2nd October 2017 – Sandra Bustamante-Lopez, Swansea University, VEDAS CII

Sandra LopezSandra is a postdoctoral researcher who works with biosensors to continuously monitor analytes, such as glucose in the blood. She believes using cell-based sensors can transform how we monitor other human and animals maladies, track athletes performance, and detect plant pathogens. Sandra worked at Boston University, MIT and Texas A&M University in biomedical optics, biomaterials for drug delivery, immunology and oncology research.

As a part-time college student, full-time worker Sandra encountered countless “you will never finish that” yet she graduated from Boston University with a B.S. in Biomedical laboratory and clinical sciences. Her Ph.D. advisor relocated midway and Sandra followed the research from Texas, USA to Wales, UK. She received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Texas A&M University.

Her interests includes biomedical applications of renewable nanomaterials, and microfluidic devices to load cells for biosensing and drug delivery. She was a finalist at Swansea FameLab 2016 and enjoys science communication in Spanish and English. In Colombia, Sandra works with Vedas Investigación e Innovación (@vedascii) a non-profit organization developing  local, and international collaborations and projects. Sandra is a foodie, and she is a fan of “Forensic Files”. Currently, She is based at Swansea University, UK and often travels back home to Medellin, Colombia and Boston, United States.