Briefly, tell us about your background and experience up to this point?
I grew up in Northern Ireland before moving across the pond to begin my undergraduate studies at King’s College London with a Unite Scholarship. During my final year, I was given the opportunity to get a taste of what research involved through an extended project that identified extramitochondrial iron-sulfur proteins in Dr Barry Panaretou’s lab. Immediately afterwards, I received a fully-funded postgraduate research studentship with the MRC DTP to continue on at King’s College London. During the next year I completed an MRes where I researched alternative splicing in neuronal diversity, transcriptional regulation of cardiac progenitor cell fate using hiPSCs and the assembly of Ebola virus. I then began my PhD in Professor Juan Martin-Serrano’s lab where I am currently using advanced microscopy techniques to study membrane remodelling during cell division.
What is a typical day at King’s like for you?
I usually start my day by doing some tissue culture, which typically involves working with human cell lines that I’ve engineered to express fluorescently-tagged proteins. In these cells I reduce the expression levels of related proteins and treat them with different drugs to determine their role during cell division. Once the incubations are complete, I’ll take my plate of fluorescent cells to one of the microscopes that we have here at Guy’s Hospital or over at the Nikon Imaging Centre. Depending on the experiment and microscope I’m using, I could spend my time following fluorescent proteins throughout cells as they undergo mitosis, comparing damaged DNA or even taking super resolution images of different structures within cells. I’ll then spend time performing data analysis based on these experiments before putting my results together to present to colleagues and collaborators.
What is something positive that happened to you in 2023?
I published my first research paper! We identified a novel protein called UMAD1 which helps cells divide! You can read more about it here: https://doi.org/10.1242/jcs.261097
What are you most looking forward to this year?
Throughout my PhD I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with labs in US on an exciting project. I’m looking forward to sending this paper off so that we can share some exciting results with the rest of the field!
Who inspires you most and why?
My grandmother. She is, without a doubt, the most altruistic person I know. There is no challenge she has faced that she hasn’t overcome. Everyday I strive to be more like her.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
In the near future, I will be writing my thesis to finish up my PhD. Then I will be looking for a lab to transition into postdoctoral research. So in five years, I’ll hopefully be looking down a microscope with another paper under my belt!
Favourite season: The 2004-05 season featuring the greatest Champions League final I’ve ever seen (it can be a football season, right?)
Favourite London restaurant: Byron
Favourite book: Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
Favourite movie: Hot Fuzz