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Herchel Smith Fund


In October we have the pleasure of welcoming a new cohort of the Herchel Smith Phd Students to the University of Cambridge!

The 2019/20 academic year will mark the 10th anniversary of the Herchel Smith Studentships, which are considered ones of the most prestigious at the University. Bequeathed to both Harvard University and University of Cambridge by the distinguished chemist Dr Herchel Smith, the scholarships give an opportunity for early-career scientists to work on their PhD in life sciences.

We warmly welcome Charlotte, Josh and Alberto and we hope they have a great time at Cambridge!

Read more about the Herchel Smith Studentships here.

Charlotte Dawson

Department of Biochemistry

Charlotte completed her undergraduate studies in Biochemistry and Chemistry

in 2018 at La Trobe University, Australia. She discovered her passion for proteomics during a summer internship in Professor Michelle Colgrave’s lab at CSIRO where she performed targeted analyses of oat peptides. Following this, Charlotte commenced her Honours year with Professor Marilyn Anderson in the Biochemistry department at La Trobe. Her project involved defining protein markers for extracellular vesicles isolated from the pathogenic fungus Candida albicans. For her PhD Charlotte will join the Cambridge Centre for Proteomics under the supervision of Professor Kathryn Lilley. Using quantitative mass spectrometry, she will investigate the RNA-protein interactions involved in the formation of stress granules; specifically how these interactions change in response to cellular insult or during disease pathogenesis. Outside of the lab, Charlotte enjoys playing basketball and has a keen interest in archaeology and ancient history.


Josh Dickerson

MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology

I studied for an undergraduate Master’s degree in Biochemistry at the University of Oxford, where I became interested in structural biology. I did my 4th year Part II project in the group of Professor Elspeth Garman, where I was studying the effects of radiation damage to proteins during data collection at various structural biology sources. I wrote simulations to track how X-rays and electrons lose energy as they move through protein samples, and used them to suggest how data collection parameters can be optimised to minimise the extent to which radiation damage manifests. For my PhD, I will continue to work on developing structural biology methods joining the group of Dr. Chris Russo at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology. Here I will study the physical phenomena that are currently limiting electron cryomicroscopy and develop methods to improve the resolving power of the electron microscope.


Alberto Echevarría-Poza

Department of Biochemistry

I was born in Spain and, as I was always intrigued by science, I decided to take a BSc in Biotechnology at the University of the Basque Country. During my undergraduate degree, I had the fantastic chance to take part in several summer projects on Plant Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. After being kindly invited to Dupree’s Lab in the Department of Biochemistry to work for a summer on the plant cell wall, I realised that this was a great place where to keep learning. Now I am starting a PhD on the synthesis and degradation of xylan, a polymer forming the plant cell wall and a source of biofuels and biomaterials. During these years, I will try to learn as much as possible so that one day I can also encourage more people to work altogether for the greater good.