8th April 2019 – Wes Wilson, UWA / NCARD / Mostly Science

Wes Wilson_2.pngWes Wilson is a Canadian cancer researcher and science communicator currently based in Australia. His previous research looked at the epigenetic changes in childhood brain tumours, asking the kinds of questions like what kinds of gene expression changes made a low-grade glioma become a high-grade glioma? He then moved on to study the formation of breast cancer and characterized a new mechanism in tumorigenesis of this disease. His current work is in the adult cancer mesothelioma and focuses on developing new treatment approaches to this universally fatal disease by harnessing modern immunotherapy strategies and leveraging novel synergistic therapies. You can hear about some of his immunotherapy work here in his TEDx UWA talk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFuRqKQwxKA .

Wes is the founder of the science communication page Mostly Science ( www.fb.com/mostlyscience ) and host of the corresponding Mostly Science Podcast ( https://mostlyscience.com/webcast/ ) where the look to pull the curtain back on science in the headlines and explores the what and why of the world around us.  He also serves as the editor of science curation group Science Seeker (@SciSeeker), host of the LifeOmic series TumourTalk, and President of the Science Communication Society @ UWA.

His also has a passion for technology and has been an avid developer and tinkerer since he was a kid. Taking apart computers and devices to learn how they work and teaching himself how to code. This interest has led to many exciting projects including but not limited to creating a mobile app for delivering medical resources to expecting mothers in the Yukon Canada, creating a hardware wearable device for medication non-compliance, working on a machine learning algorithm for diagnosing brain tumours, and more machine learning algorithms for working with large data sets involved in single cell sequencing data.


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).

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.

22nd May 2017 – Seth Barribeau, University of Liverpool

I’m an evolutionary ecologist who largely works on understanding how insects are able to do complicated things with what is generally considered a ‘simple’ immune system. Spoiler: it’s not that simple. I am fond of most animals, with the noticeable exceptions of ostriches (they have cruel, dead, eyes) and locusts (a childhood incident). I started out studying the what predisposes tadpoles to infection as a graduate student in New Zealand, and after a brief stint catching snakes, teaching English, and proof reading medical articles in Japan, moved on to studying aphids and fungus-growing ants at Emory University, and then bumblebees at the ETH in Zürich. After studying and postdoc-ing in several countries I recently started a position as the lecturer for eco-immunology at the Institute of Integrative Biology at the University of Liverpool.
My recent research has explored why aphids have a pretty rubbish immune system, why the costs of mounting an immune response differ among individuals, how diet influences the expression of immunity, how bumblebees respond differently to different genotypes of a common parasite, what makes immune memory, what does sociality do to the evolution of the immune system, and, most importantly, was Marvin Gaye right? Is there such a thing as sexual healing?