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Herchel Smith Fund

 

Postdoctoral Fellows


Steve Pates, 2020
 
Steve is a palaeobiologist interested in the diversity and ecology of some of the Earth's oldest animals. During his PhD at the University of Oxford he studied the diversity and palaeobiology of some of the largest animals in the Cambrian oceans, the radiodonts - relatives of modern arthropods like spiders, crustaceans, and insects. As a Herchel Smith Postdoctoral Fellow he will combine statistical, engineering, and palaeontological methods to explore the interaction between form and function in fossil arthropods, with a view to better understanding how environmental controls may have shaped the evolution of animals in deep time.
 
Website: Department of Zoology
 
Email: sp587@cam.ac.uk


Adrien Hallou, 2020
 
Originally from Montpellier in South of France, Adrien was trained as a physicist and a chemist at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, prior to develop his interest for quantitative approaches of biological systems during his MPhil and PhD in Biophysics under the supervision of Dr. A Kabla (University of Cambridge) and Prof. J-M. Di Meglio (University of Paris). His doctoral work, using both theory and experiments, aimed at understanding the mechanobiology of collective cell behaviours observed in cancer metastasis and early embryonic development. Subsequently, he moved in the group of Prof. B. Simons (Wellcome Trust / CRUK Gurdon Institute) as a Wellcome Trust Interdisciplinary Research Fellow where he worked on mechanochemical pattern formation and on the role of mechanics in oesophagus postnatal development. As an Herchel Smith Postdoctoral Research Fellow, he will pursue his interdisciplinary work, combining methods from statistical physics, biomechanics and machine learning with wet lab biology experiments to understand the role of cellular heterogeneity and mechanochemical interactions in cell fate decisions during tissue homeostasis and regeneration.
 
Website: Wellcome Trust / CRUK Gurdon Institute & Cavendish Laboratory
 
Email: ah691@cam.ac.uk


Camille Scalliet, 2020
 
Camille is a French theoretical physicist interested in non-equilibrium statistical physics. She studied physics at the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, before moving to Montpellier, where she completed her PhD in 2019. During her PhD, she combined numerical and analytical efforts to investigate the nature and formation mechanism of amorphous materials, such as glasses. She was awarded a l’Oreal-UNESCO Fellowship For Women in Science in 2018. In 2019, she joined Cambridge as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Professor Michael Cates’s Soft Matter Theory group. Her current research investigates various aspects of non-equilibrium soft materials, either active or driven. Camille is currently Ramon Jenkins Research Fellow of Sidney Sussex College.
 
Website: Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics
 
Email: cs2057@cam.ac.uk


Daniel Congrave, 2020
 
Daniel grew up on Anglesey in North Wales. His background is primarily in the design, synthesis and investigation of organic polycyclic materials for optoelectronics. He obtained an MChem at Bangor University, carrying out research with Prof. Igor Perepichka. Daniel then went on to do a PhD at Durham University with Prof. Martin Bryce, where he developed organoiridium complexes and all-organic thermally activated delayed fluorescent materials for light emitting diodes. He next worked as a postdoc at the University of Cambridge in Dr Hugo Bronstein’s group, shifting emphasis toward organic solar cells and conjugated polymers. His research interests encompass anything where the interaction of organic molecules and light is key, and he believes that solving the underlying research problems in these fields will start with original structural chemistry and molecular design. As a Herchel Smith research fellow in organic chemistry at the Department of Chemistry, Daniel will focus on the near-infrared, where any significant advance in luminescent organic dyes should bridge optoelectronic and biological research.
 
Website: Department of Chemistry
 
Email: dc704@cam.ac.uk


Girish Beedessee, 2020
 
Girish was born in Mauritius and completed his PhD in the field of marine genomics at Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, Japan. He continued as a JSPS fellow exploring long read sequencing platforms to understand transcriptomic events. He is interested in investigating the role of biosynthetic enzymes in metabolite combinatorial chemistry. During his time at Cambridge in the Waller lab, Girish will combine biophysics, biochemistry and computational reconstruction of microscopy data to solve an evolutionary novel mode of re-engineering DNA condensation. Outside the lab, Girish loves playing football and travelling.
 
Website: Department of Biochemistry
 
Email: gb629@cam.ac.uk


Megan Hill, 2020
 
Megan grew up in the midwestern United States. After obtaining a bachelor's in materials science from Cornell University she moved back to the Midwest to pursue her PhD in materials science from Northwestern University in the group of Professor Lincoln Lauhon. Her PhD focused on the study of III-V nanowire lasers, particularly imaging nanowire composition using atom probe tomography and imaging nanowire strain using coherent X-ray imaging. During her PhD, Megan gained a passion for synchrotron science. She aims to utilize synchrotron spectroscopy during her fellowship to investigate the switching mechanisms of oxide memristors under the mentorship of Professor Judith Driscoll. Outside of lab, Megan enjoys cooking, intricately decorating cakes, and anything crafty!
 
Website: Department of Materials Science & Metallurgy
 
Email: moh30@cam.ac.uk


Navid Nabijou, 2020
 
Navid grew up in London, receiving his undergraduate and doctoral degrees from Imperial College, before spending two years as a research associate at the University of Glasgow. He is a pure mathematician, specialising in algebraic geometry - the study of shapes defined by polynomial equations. He is interested in studying the inherent properties of these shapes; in classifying them and understanding how they relate to one another. The common theme running through his work is the exploitation of hidden combinatorial structures, to probe the geometry of complicated moduli spaces. Beyond the mathematical realm, he enjoys rock climbing, political activism and exploring new places.
 
Website: DPMMS
 
Email: nn333@cam.ac.uk


Tamsin Samuels, 2020
 
Tamsin grew up in Singapore and moved to the UK for her undergraduate degree in Biochemistry. She completed her DPhil at the University of Oxford under the supervision of Professor Ilan Davis, studying the regulation of neural stem cells in the fruit fly larva. In 2020, Tamsin joined the group of Dr Felipe Karam Teixeira in the Department of Genetics using the model system of the fruit fly germline. As a Herchel Smith Postdoctoral Fellow, Tamsin will use single molecule imaging of RNA molecules in the fruit fly ovary to examine the molecular regulation of rapid fate transitions during stem cell differentiation. Outside the lab, Tamsin enjoys running and baking.
 
Website: Department of Genetics
 
Email: tjs73@cam.ac.uk


Zoe Wyatt, 2020
 
Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Zoe is a mathematician working on general relativity. After undergraduate studies in mathematics at the University of Cambridge, she completed her PhD under the supervision of Pieter Blue at the University of Edinburgh. Her research lies at the intersection of general relativity, nonlinear partial differential equations and mathematical physics. She is particularly interested in using the analysis of partial differential equations to understand the validity of theories of quantum gravity and also to study properties of matter in cosmological models. Zoe is also a Junior Research Fellow at Darwin College.
 
Website: DPMMS
 
Email: zoe.wyatt@maths.cam.ac.uk


Alexander Nestor-Bergmann, 2019
 
Mathematician by training and biologist by aspiration, Alex’s main interests lie in biomechanics. During his PhD, Alex developed mechanical models of tissues to study how external forces can influence cell division. In 2018, he joined Cambridge as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Benedicte Sanson’s group. His current research focuses on understanding how the active mechanical properties of cells can lead to coordinated and unintuitive tissue-level behaviour. A fundamental aspect of this work is extensive interaction between “wet” and “dry” biologists.
 
Website: Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience
 
Email: an529@cam.ac.uk


Georg Krainer, 2019
 
Georg was born in Austria and has a background in the Molecular Biosciences, with a first-class honours degree in Biochemistry and a doctoral degree sum cum laude in Biophysics. Georg’s research activities lie at the interface of biology, chemistry, and physics with a particular focus on understanding the fundamental principles of biomolecular self-assembly and their implications for physiological function and malfunction. As a Herchel Smith Research Fellow in the group of Prof. Tuomas Knowles at the Department of Chemistry and the Centre for Misfolding Diseases, Georg will leverage the combined power of microfluidics and single-molecule detection to explore self-assembly processes in the context of biomolecular condensate formation and protein aggregation involved in neurodegeneration, and their modulation by chaperones and drugs. Outside the lab, Georg enjoys tennis, skiing, classical music, and travelling.
 
Website: Department of Chemistry
 
Email: gk422@cam.ac.uk


Hayley Macpherson, 2019
 
Hayley was born in Melbourne, Australia, where she completed her PhD at Monash University in 2019. She is interested in investigating the role of Einstein's theory of General Relativity (GR) in the formation of the large-scale galaxy structure of the Universe. During her PhD, she performed cosmological simulations that solve Einstein's equations directly to measure the curvature of spacetime that arises due to inhomogeneous, giga-parsec scale structures. During her time at Cambridge, she will be extending this research to analyse GR effects on our cosmological observations by studying the propagation of light rays through her simulations. Aside from the entire Universe, Hayley loves running, surfing, swimming, and live music.
 
Website: Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics
 
Email: h.macpherson@damtp.cam.ac.uk


James Matthews, 2019
 
James grew up in North-East Somerset before studying Physics at the University of Southampton, where he also did his PhD conducting research into the outflowing material around supermassive black holes. This PhD work was under the supervision of Christian Knigge. Since then, he has been a postdoc at the University of Oxford, working with Tony Bell and Katherine Blundell. His research interests relate to particle acceleration, cosmic rays, astrophysical jets and the interaction between supermassive black holes and their host galaxies. He is a mostly theoretical astrophysicist, and uses aspects of plasma physics, radiative transfer and hydrodynamics in his research. Outside of work, James is a keen musician and pubgoer who also enjoys running or a game of football.
 
Website: Institute of Astronomy
 
Email: matthews@ast.cam.ac.uk


John Chu, 2019
 
John was born and grew up in Hong Kong. After undergraduate study at the University of Hong Kong, he moved to Colorado State University and pursued a Ph.D in Chemistry under the supervision of Professor Tomislav Rovis. His Ph.D research focused on the synthesis of small nitrogen-containing organic molecules. He is currently developing novel chemical reactions for protein modification in the Gaunt Group at the Department of Chemistry.
 
Website: Department of Chemistry
 
Email: ckc30@cam.ac.uk


Leonie Luginbuehl, 2019
 
Leonie did her PhD at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, where she investigated the transcriptional reprogramming of plant roots during the establishment of the symbiotic relationship with mycorrhizal fungi. Her work identified a lipid biosynthesis pathway that is upregulated in root cells during the symbiosis and provides mycorrhizal fungi with fatty acids as a major carbon source. In November 2017, Leonie joined the Hibberd group at the University of Cambridge as a postdoctoral scientist. Using photosynthesis as a model, she will combine experimental approaches with mathematical modelling to understand the genetic basis of cell type specific gene expression in rice leaves.
 
Website: Department of Plant Sciences
 
Email: lhl28@cam.ac.uk


Liisa Loog, 2019
 
Liisa’s research is focussed the evolution of complex human traits. She is a broadly trained evolutionary geneticist, with her first degree in Biological Anthropology (U. Kent), an MSc in Human Evolution from UCL, and doctoral studies at the Research Laboratory for Archaeological Science at U. Oxford. During her postgraduate studies Liisa developed several analytical methods to quantify past levels of mobility and infer past genetic selection and other evolutionary processes using genetic data from archaeological and fossil specimens (also known as ancient DNA). In her current position as a Herchel Smith Research Fellow at the Department of Genetics, Liisa will combine ancient DNA and archaeological data with statistical modelling to study the evolution of human height and how it has changed over time in Europe in response to genetic, cultural and environmental factors such as diet and pathogen exposure.
 
Website: Department of Genetics
 
Email: ll438@cam.ac.uk


Nicolaus Heuer, 2019
 
Nicolaus is a pure mathematician working in Geometric Group Theory. He grew up in Frankfurt and did his undergraduate studies at ETH Zurich. He completed his PhD from Oxford in Spring 2019. One question Nicolaus is interested in is: How efficiently can you bound a loop? This seemingly basic question relates to surprisingly many subfields of Mathematics such as Topology, Geometry, Dynamics and Informatics.
 
Website: Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics
 
Email: nh441@maths.cam.ac.uk


Wolfram Pönisch, 2019
 
Wolfram grew up in Germany and obtained his M.Sc. in Physics from the University of Leipzig. In 2013, he moved to the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems in Dresden to obtain his Ph.D. degree under the supervision of Vasily Zaburdaev and Frank Jülicher and supported by the IMPRS CellDevoSys. In Dresden, his research focused on the investigation of bacterial aggregate dynamics with the help of theoretical and numerical models. In summer 2018, Wolfram joined the group of Ewa Paluch at the University College London. In 2019, the lab moved to the University of Cambridge, where he investigates the crosstalk between cell shape and cell fate from a theoreticians point of view.
 
Website: Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience
 
Email: wp269@cam.ac.uk


Andrea Dimitracopoulos, 2018
 
After training as a Biomedical Engineer at the Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa, Andrea started his PhD in Theoretical Physics and Cell Biology at University College London, on the CoMPLEX programme. Under the supervision of Buzz Baum, Tom Duke, and Thomas Surrey, he studied the role of the physical properties of the cell (such as geometry and stiffness) in the context of cancer cell division. Andrea is now following his passion for research at the interface between physical and life sciences in the Franze Lab at the University of Cambridge, where he is studying the role of the physical properties of neurons and their environment on axon formation during neuronal development. Outside the lab, Andrea enjoys coming up with new cooking recipes, playing and designing video games, and spending time with people close to him.
 
Website: Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience (PDN)
 
Email: ad865@cam.ac.uk


Ariel Rapaport, 2018
 
Ariel grew up in Jerusalem, Israel. He carried out his studies at the Einstein Institute of Mathematics at the Hebrew University. His research interests are Fractal geometry, Probability and Ergodic theory. In particular, he is interested in the dimension properties of self-similar and self-affine sets and measures.
 
Website: Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics (DPMMS)
 
Email: ar977@cam.ac.uk


David Furman, 2018
 
David was born in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. He was 4 years old when his family moved to Israel. When not in front of the computer, he enjoys observing nature and contemplating its essence. David obtained a BSc in Chemistry (magna cum laude) from Ben-Gurion University-Israel and a PhD in Physical and Theoretical Chemistry from Hebrew University of Jerusalem-Israel. His research efforts focused on the development and use of efficient computer models to deepen our understanding of chemical reactivity in condensed-phase energetic systems at extreme conditions. He was a visiting scholar in the department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering at Penn. State University-USA. Before moving to Cambridge, he served as the head of an independent research group in the Chemistry Division at NRCN-Israel. His current research is motivated by one of the major mysteries of our time; the chemical origins of life on Earth. He recently discovered that, under appropriate conditions, amino acids and other central biogenic molecules could form inside cavitating primordial water streams with dissolved inorganic gases. At present, he aims to take his study one step further by tracing a favorable chemical route towards life’s earliest biopolymers. For that, he plans to develop novel computer models to circumvent experimental difficulties and directly observe the mechanisms of peptide-bond formation on early Earth.
 
Website: Department of Chemistry
 
Email: df398@cam.ac.uk


Eelco Tromer, 2018
 
Eelco is an evolutionary cell biologist, with a background in molecular cell biology and evolutionary bioinformatics, who enjoyed his primary research training at Utrecht University in The Netherlands. His main interest lies in understanding how eukaryotic cells evolved highly divergent molecular mechanisms to execute chromosome segregation during cell division, a process that is central to the propagation and maintenance of life as we known it. He is particularly fascinated by kinetochores, small cellular structures that couple chromosomes to microtubules of the main cell division machine called the spindle. In the group of Dr Ross Waller at the Department of Biochemistry, Eelco will leverage the combined power of comparative genomics, proteomics and super resolution microscopy to interrogate the molecular function and evolution of highly divergent kinetochores of the apicomplexan Toxoplasma gondii and dinoflagellate Perkinsus marinus; parasitic species that pose a global threat to human and animal health. When he is not in the lab, Eelco likes to explore the countryside and mountain ranges on foot together with his wife Gertine.
 
Website: Department of Biochemistry
 
Email: ecet2@cam.ac.uk


Lemonia Chatzeli, 2018
 
Lemonia is a developmental biologist interested at how epithelial organs are formed and how developmental signals re-activated in the adult tissue contribute to regeneration and cancer. She obtained her PhD at King’s College London where she investigated the role of epithelial-mesenchymal interactions in branching morphogenesis and regeneration of salivary glands in Prof Abigail Tucker’s lab. She then moved to Cambridge as a postdoc in the group of Prof Benjamin Simons and Dr Bon-Kyoung Koo to study how the activation of common developmental signals in the adult stomach could initiate tumour formation. Her interest in organ development led her to undertake a new project in the lab of Prof Benjamin Simons as a Herschel Smith postdoctoral fellow where she would combine statistical and experimental approaches to trace the cellular dynamics driving salivary gland branching morphogenesis and tumour initiation.
 
Website: MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute
 
Email: lc717@cam.ac.uk


Stephen Dolan, 2018
 
Stephen completed his PhD in Molecular Microbiology at Maynooth University, Ireland, unravelling the biosynthesis of toxic secondary metabolites produced by the human fungal pathogen, Aspergillus fumigatus (2012-2015). He then joined the Welch group at the Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, to investigate the link between central carbon metabolism and virulence in the bacterial pathogen, Pseudomonas aeruginosa. As a Herchel Smith Fellow, Stephen’s research focus is to examine the molecular mechanisms that govern interkingdom interactions during polymicrobial infection. Outside of the laboratory, Stephen enjoys judo, cycling and travelling.
 
Website: Department of Biochemistry
 
Email: skd41@cam.ac.uk