22nd of August 2016 – Megan Larsen, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Megan LarsenMegan recently finished her PhD with Jay T. Lennon at Indiana University where she specialized in microbial ecology and evolution. Her dissertation focused on how cyanobacteria-phage interactions within microbial communities evolve in response to nutrient limiting conditions. She’s now returned to her home state of Nebraska (USA) and is applying her technical expertise in microbial ecology and informatics to studying cyanobacterial blooms at the University of Nebraska Water Sciences Laboratory.

Megan is an advocate for undergraduate STEM education and community outreach. While at Indiana University, she was greatly involved with engaging underrepresented students in the Women In STIM (Science, Technology, Informatics, and Mathematics) Living Learning Center and designed seminar courses for undergraduate professional development.

When she’s not sciencing, Megan is likely out and about on her bicycle roaming the old railroads turned trails in Lincoln or hiking with her dogs, Nala (lab retriever) and Sarah (St. Bernard).

This week on biotweeps, she’ll be focusing on skills she’s picked up during graduate school, new analytical chemistry skills she’s learning at the Water Sciences Laboratory, discussion about harmful algal blooms in the news, informatics, and work-life balance.

 You can follow Megan after Biotweeps on twitter (@meganllarsen) or on her website (http://meganllarsen.wordpress.com).

18th July 2016 – Katherine James, Newcastle University

Katherine James.jpgI’m a Post-Doctoral bioinformatician working with the Centre for Bacterial Cell Biology (CBCB) and the Interdisciplinary Computing and Complex bioSystems (ICOS) research group at Newcastle University.  My research focuses on the large-scale integration of biological data in order to generate novel, testable hypotheses.

I originally studied Molecular Biology as an undergraduate at Newcastle but, due to a lack of jobs in the area at the time I graduated, I spent the next few years initially managing a pub and restaurant (great fun, poor pay), and then working as an administrator for the Civil Service (better pay, mind-numbingly boring).

Eventually my love of biology and computing science led me back to Newcastle to the, then relatively new, MRes Bioinformatics course. I subsequently stayed to do a PhD in Computing Science (during which I was lucky enough to be one of the first Computing Science PhDs in the UK to do laboratory work during my project).

As a Post-Doc I have worked on a diverse range of project; from data analysis to software and algorithm development, and involving yeast, human and bacterial data.  During my week on Biotweeps I primarily hope to describe how varied, interesting and novel bioinformatics research can be, but also discuss some of the practicalities of computational research, and the process of becoming an independent researcher (which I am currently in the initial stages of).

April 20th 2015 – Chris Slape, Monash University

Chris SlapeI’m a Research Fellow at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and a molecular biologist by training. The goal of my PhD project was to identify the chromosome breakpoints in leukemia patients (back before the Human Genome Project made that an afternoon’s work), and I’ve been working in various leukemia genetics projects ever since. I’m currently working on a translational project, trying to bring a molecular discovery (the inappropriate expression of a certain protein in leukemia) made 20 years ago through to a useful clinical application. It’s my first time in a lab with a real biochemistry focus rather than a genetics or cellular biology focus, which is… challenging?


More generally, I’m interested in leukemia stem cells, the cells that are responsible for relapse after chemotherapy, and how they manage to survive and regenerate the leukemia all by themselves. Through my work I aim to understand the genetic mutations and epigenetic events that drive gene expression patterns which control this behaviour. Things I am interested in and wish I was more adept at include bioinformatics and understanding how genome organisation works; good luck with that. Outside of work, I am a keen if slow runner, a keen if mad baseball fan, and a keen if misguided semi-colon user. I have a blog I last updated about two years ago.