22nd July 2019 – Steven Allain, University of Kent/Zoological Society of London

Steven AllainSteven is a current PhD candidate at the University of Kent where his research focuses on the population dynamics of the barred grass snake (Natrix helvetica) and the effects of snake fungal disease (Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola). Steven holds a BSc Zoology from Anglia Ruskin University and an MRes in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation from Imperial College London. Throughout his academic career, Steven’s main interests have been the conservation of amphibian and reptiles. This has taken many forms over the years including population monitoring and investigating for the influence of disease. One of the projects which you may be aware of is the monitoring of midwife toads (Alytes obstetricans) in Cambridge, where Steven has been coordinating a project to investigate the population size and to also screen for disease since 2015.

Steven is actively involved with the conservation of the UK’s herpetofauna but is also involved in projects across the world. Steven’s research has also seen him travel to a number of countries including Germany, Malaysia and Tanzania. Some of Steven’s affiliations include the British Herpetological Society (where he is a council member), Save the Snakes (where is on the advisory board) and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Amphibian and Reptile Group (where he is chairman). Aside from Steven’s strong passion for the natural world and particularly of herpetofauna, he also has a strong scientific background too. With a large number of publications under his belt before starting his PhD, it is clear that Steven strives to improve our understanding of amphibians and reptiles as well as making this information available. You can find out more about Steven by visiting his website: http://www.stevenallain.co.uk/

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22nd April 2019 – Julie Teresa Shapiro, Institut national de la santé et la recherche médicale

Julie ShapiroHi everyone! My name is Julie Shapiro (@JulieTheBatgirl) and I’m an ecologist. I am originally from Brockton, Massachusetts but I currently live in Lyon, France, where I work as a post-doctoral researcher at the Institut national de la santé et la recherche médicale (National Institute of Health and Medical Research). I completed my PhD in Interdisciplinary Ecology in August 2018 at the University of Florida, where I studied bats. I was particularly interested in the different ways that human activity can affect bats, including their diversity, bacteria, and viruses. My current research is focused on the ecology of antimicrobial resistance in hospitals. I use ecological models to understand how the environment and characteristics of hospital wards affect the number of infected patients. I also love doing outreach and scicomm – especially with kids! Biotweeps was one of the first accounts I followed when I started using Twitter and I’m really looking forward to taking over next week! Expect to hear about bats, antibiotic resistant bacteria, scicomm, changing fields of research, moving to a new country, and maybe a picture of my cat!

Website: www.jtshapiro.com

15th April 2019 – Malaria Atlas Project, Big Data Institute, University of Oxford, IHME

Malaria Atlas ProjectThe Malaria Atlas Project (www.map.ox.ac.uk) is a research group within the University of Oxford. We assemble global databases on malaria risk and intervention coverage in order to develop innovative analysis methods that use those data to address critical questions. By evaluating burden, trends, and impact at fine geographical scale, we support informed decision making for malaria control at international, regional, and national scales. We are committed to open access and release all our data on a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

18th March 2019 – Lauren Callender, Queen Mary University of London

Lauren CallenderHi everyone! I’m Lauren Callender (@LozCallender_) and I’m a PhD researcher working in London. Before moving to London I completed a BSc in Biology and an MSc in Molecular Medicine at the University of Leeds. After this I decide to make the move to London and began working as a research assistant at the Institute of Child Health, UCL. Following the brief 9-month stint as a research assistant I was then awarded a 4-year MRes/PhD scholarship with the British Heat Foundation at the William Harvey Research Institute, QMUL. I’ve been there for 3 and a half years, so the finish line is now in sight (wish me luck!).

My PhD research is focused on understanding how ageing and age-related diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease affect the human immune system. I’m particularly interested in a type of immune cell known as a T cell, which is involved in the adaptive immune system. My aim is to understand how and why T cells change with age/disease, and more importantly I want to figure out how to prevent or reverse the changes with the hope to increase longevity.

In addition to my research I love sharing my passion for science through my Instagram and Twitter accounts (@LozCallender_) and my YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/sciencescribbles). Throughout my time as a PhD researcher I have dedicated a lot of time to teaching in underprivileged state schools around London. I created ScienceScribbles as a way to turn the topics I was teaching in schools into fun and interactive tutorials that could be accessed by a wider audience.

I’m really looking forward to taking over the @Biotweeps twitter account. I hope you all enjoy the content I’ll be sharing with you.

17th September 2018 – Ed Emmott, Northeastern University

Ed EmmottI’m Ed Emmott (twitter: @edemmott, web: edemmott.co.uk), a postdoc at Northeastern University in Boston MA. I moved to the US just under a year ago after a previous postdoc in the UK at the University of Cambridge and Imperial College London. My background is in studying viruses, how your body defends against them, and in particular how this changes the proteins your cells make in response to infection.

I’ve mostly worked on animal viruses. In some cases these are important in themselves, for example the economic impact of chicken viruses on the poultry industry. The virus I worked on during my PhD – Avian coronavirus, also known as infectious bronchitis virus is an example of this. In other cases, when there isn’t a good way to grow a human virus, a similar animal virus can be the best way we have to study this. In my last postdoc I worked on mouse norovirus which is not a major problem for any mice which get infected, but is similar to human norovirus which causes winter vomiting disease. Norovirus is best known for outbreaks on cruise ships and sporting events.

I’m also interested in how cells make proteins and how cells respond to infection. I’m working on this in my current postdoc, where I am studying how ribosomes are altered as part of the immune response. I do lots of the above with a method called mass spectrometry, which allows me to study thousands of proteins at once. You’ll be hearing a little bit on all this and on some of the places I’ve worked during my week!

Aside from the research, I’m a strong supporter of preprints, and reproducibility in science and try to contribute to these as an ASAPbio and eLife Ambassador. Away from the science I enjoy cooking, music, good restaurants, IPA, and am fueled by ~5 coffees/day.

3rd September 2018 -Morgan Halane, POSTECH

Morgan HalaneWe all get sick 😦 While our immune system does a good job of fending off viruses, bacteria, and fungi, these tiny invaders sometimes thwart even the best defenses. Human diseases seem to get the most attention, but I am focused on the immune systems of plants. Although you have a lot in common with quinoa, there are some key differences between the immune systems of you and your favorite crop.

A little about me: I’m a D&D Wizard (formerly Druid), a first-generation #BlackAndSTEM PhD, currently conducting postdoctoral research in Dr. Kee Hoon Sohn’s lab (http://sohnlab.kr/) at POSTECH, South Korea. Originally from rural Missouri, I had no idea a decade ago that I would be doing the work that I’m doing, but every day is a new adventure and I’m loving living at the edge of the unknown, both as a scientist and as a foreigner living in Asia.

My PhD research was focused on proteins secreted from bacterial pathogens (effector proteins). My most recent paper identifies a previously uncharacterized functional domain of a well-studied effector protein (http://journals.plos.org/plospathogens/article?id=10.1371/journal.ppat.1006984).

My goal for this week in Biotweeps is to have a conversation- answer questions about plants and plant immunity, engage in the debate surrounding genetically modified crops, and to learn something new! I also want to discuss things outside of my research topic, such as relocating from the US to Korea for research and switching majors from undergrad to grad (I was a Lit major in Undergrad, where I was working in a science lab while writing essays on sci-fi adaptations).

16th July 2018 – Eleanor Senior, University of Liverpool

Eleanor Senior 2Hi I’m Eleanor, I am currently a 2nd Year PhD student at the Institute of Infection and Global Health at the University of Liverpool.  My PhD is in Veterinary Parasitology, looking at the bovine parasite Tritrichomonas foetus which causes the disease bovine trichomoniasis.  This parasite is sexually transmitted between cows and bulls and can cause infertility and spontaneous abortions, which is pretty rough on the poor cows. My PhD is aiming to find vaccine candidates for this parasite so that one day we can have a long lasting working vaccine for this parasite.

Before I started my PhD I studied Biological Sciences at the University of Birmingham, where I was essentially jack of all trades looking at a range of things, such as ecology, plant biology, and microbiology.  I knew I wanted to study something microbiology related and when this PhD came up I had to do it.

My PhD is different to many in that it contains both lab based and computer based parts so I spend 50% of my time looking at parasites in the lab and 50% analysing data and doing bioinformatics and coding in the office.  I’m interested in all aspects of parasitology, microbiology and animal welfare and am keen to explore all these areas.