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Herchel Smith Fund

 

Postdoctoral Fellows


Anke Aretsen, 2022
 
Anke is an astronomer working in the field of Galactic Archaeology. During her time as a Herchel Smith fellow, she will further develop her research on ancient stars and what they can teach us about the early formation and evolution of our home galaxy, the Milky Way. She will use spectroscopic observations to derive the chemical and dynamical properties of stars, with a focus on the inner regions of the Milky Way. Anke grew up in the Netherlands and studied at the University of Groningen, after which she moved to Germany for her PhD at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics in Potsdam. Before coming to Cambridge she spent two years as postdoctoral researcher at the Astronomical Observatory in Strasbourg, France. Anke is currently also a Research Fellow at Fitzwilliam College.
 
Website: Institute of Astronomy
 
Email: aa2437@cam.ac.uk


Ben Jenkins, 2022
 
Ben is molecular biologist interested in the mechanisms of endosymbiosis. Born in Cornwall, UK, he completed his Ph.D. at the University of Exeter, and moved to the University of Oxford in 2019 to work with Prof. Thomas Richards. Later, he spent three-months as an EMBO Exchange fellow at Heidelberg University with Prof. Annika Guse. As a Herchel Smith fellow, Ben will be working with Prof. Ross Waller and Prof. Kathryn Lilley. He will use spatial proteomics and comparative genomics to identify the core cellular machinery that underpins endosymbiosis in the emerging model for corals, Exaiptasia, with a view to better understand the cellular changes that occur when endosymbiosis breaks down (e.g. during coral bleaching). Ben is also a postdoctoral research associate at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.
 
Website: Department of Biochemistry
 
Email: bjj25@cam.ac.uk


Carmina Santa Cruz Mateos, 2022
 
A biologist trained at the University of Malaga (Spain), where she became fascinated by developmental biology, Carmina joined the Andalusian Center of Developmental Biology in Seville for her PhD. There she used genetics and imaging to investigate mechanisms involved in the formation and maintenance of epithelia. Currently, Carmina is a postdoc in Sarah Bray’s lab in the Physiology, Development and Neuroscience Department, where she is focused on understanding how cells read signals to generate accurate gene expression responses in the context of developmental processes. To do so Carmina is using live imaging methods to measure transcription in real time and collaborating with mathematicians to analyse and model the response mechanisms
 
Website: Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience (PDN)
 
Email: cs2122@cam.ac.uk


Craig Yu, 2022
 
Craig was born and raised in China and spent his teenage years in Canada. He received his BSc in chemistry at University of Toronto, and MSc in materials chemistry at University of Ottawa. He then moved to Japan to carry out his PhD studies as a JSPS fellow on the development of novel organic semiconductors under the supervision of Prof. Toshihiro Okamoto and Prof. Jun Takeya at the University of Tokyo. His current research at the University of Cambridge with Prof. Hugo Bronstein and Prof. Henning Sirringhaus explores the interplay between charge transport and luminescence of π-conjugated polymers for organic laser applications. Craig enjoys traveling, cooking, and lifting weights in his free time.
 
Website: Department of Chemistry
 
Email: cy352@cam.ac.uk


Isobel Romero-Shaw, 2022
 
Isobel grew up in Bath, UK, and did her Physics MSci at the University of Birmingham. She then headed to Monash University in Melbourne, Australia for her PhD. Isobel works in the exciting and rapidly-evolving field of gravitational wave astrophysics, and is a member of the LIGO collaboration. She is interested in things that go bump in the night: specifically, how and where black holes crash into each other, producing ripples in space-time that we sense here on Earth with giant antennae made of light.Isobel enjoys creativity in all forms, including creative coding for data analysis and black-hole binary progenitor simulations. Recently, she wrote and illustrated a book about the planets and their names (Planetymology: Why Uranus is not called George and other facts about space and words - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08JKVMX3Y), and co-produced a colouring book (Women in Physics - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Women-Physics-Colouring-Isobel-Romero-Shaw/dp/0645041122/). Isobel is also a keen runner and has completed several half and full marathons.
 
Website: Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP)
 
Email: ir346@cam.ac.uk


Jan Huertas, 2022
 
Jan comes from a very small village in the catalan Pyrenees, named La Seu d’Urgell, but he studied in Barcelona. After a BSc in Human Biology, and an MSc in Bioinformatics, he moved to the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine, in Münster, Germany, where he did a PhD in Theoretical Chemistry. He has recently joined the group of Professor Rosana Collepardo-Guevara, where, using multiscale molecular dynamics, he is studying how transcription factors alter chromatin behavior, with special focus on the liquid-liquid phase separation behaviors that control gene expression.
 
Website: Departments of Genetics and Chemistry
 
Email: jh2366@cam.ac.uk


Leonardo Mancini, 2022
 
Leonardo studied biology in Perugia and Cambridge and bacterial biophysics in Edinburgh with Teuta Pilizota. He then returned to Cambridge for a postdoc with Pietro Cicuta studying the systems effects of antibiotics on microbes at the single cell level. As a Herchel Smith Fellow Leonardo will use microscopy, microfluidics and genetic manipulations to observe and probe poly-microbial communities such as those that infect the lung, in collaboration with the labs of Martin Welch and Pietro Cicuta. If he is not in the lab, chances are he may be playing basketball or coaching the Panthers (http://www.cuwbbc.org.uk/the-panthers.html).
 
Website: Departments of Biochemistry and Physics
 
Email: lm653@cam.ac.uk


Yann Chaubet, 2022
 
Yann is a French mathematician working on hyperbolic dynamical systems. Born in Montpellier, he is a former student of the École Normale Supérieure and obtained his PhD from the Université Paris-Saclay in 2022, under the supervision of Prof. Colin Guillarmou. In his research, Yann uses functional and micro-local analysis techniques to study certain dynamical series associated with chaotic systems and their link with the underlying topology. He is also interested in counting problems for periodic orbits subject to geometric constraints.
 
Website: Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics (DPMMS)
 
Email: yann.chaubet@dpmms.cam.ac.uk


Alexander Fawcett, 2021
 
Alex is from Southampton, and he completed his undergraduate degree in chemistry at the University of Birmingham and his Ph.D. in synthetic organic chemistry at the University of Bristol with Professor Varinder K. Aggarwal FRS. After this, he moved to the University of California, Berkeley, where he worked with Professor John F. Hartwig, and then returned to the UK to come to the Yusuf Hamied Department of Chemistry. As a Herchel Smith research fellow, Alex is working with Professor Matthew J. Gaunt to develop new methods to functionalise DNA and oligonucleotides, reactions which could have applications in the development of new antiviral drugs and antisense oligonucleotide therapeutics.
 
Website: Department of Chemistry
 
Email: af746@cam.ac.uk


Casey Platnich, 2021
 
Hailing from Calgary, Canada, Casey is a materials scientist working at the interface of chemistry and physics. She received her PhD in Chemistry from McGill University in 2021, where she developed single-molecule fluorescence methodologies to probe the self-assembly pathways of DNA nanomaterials. These materials can then be used as personalised drug delivery vehicles or in biosensing devices. As a Herchel Smith Postdoctoral Fellow at the Cavendish Laboratory, Casey will expand on the use of DNA as a nanoscale building material, capitalising on the information storage density of DNA to build molecular ‘hard drives’ for digital data storage. Working with the group of Prof. Ulrich Keyser, these unique DNA data strings will be analysed using solid state nanopore technologies, enabling single-molecule readout. Casey is also a postdoctoral research associate at Jesus College, Cambridge.
 
Website: Cavendish Laboratory
 
Email: cp769@cam.ac.uk


Hanneke Wiersema, 2021
 
Hanneke is a pure mathematician working in Algebraic Number Theory. She studied at the University of Amsterdam before moving to King's College London for her PhD. In her research she focuses on generalisations of Serre's modularity conjecture, but she is also interested in the Langlands program and in the arithmetic of elliptic curves.
 
Website: Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics
 
Email: hw600@cam.ac.uk


James Dunce, 2021
 
James is investigating how African trypanosomes interact with their mammalian host, focusing on how the movement of receptor molecules on their cell surface alters upon the binding of macromolecular nutrients and components of the innate immune system found in serum. He will utilise a combination of super-resolution microscopy and computational modelling and is guided by biochemical and structural experiments. He completed his PhD at Newcastle University, UK, where he performed crystallographic and biophysical experiments on coiled-coil proteins involved in the assembly of the meiosis-specific chromosome-associated structure known as the synaptonemal complex.
 
Website: Department of Biochemistry
 
Email: jmd209@cam.ac.uk


Lakshmi Balasubramaniam, 2021
 
Lakshmi trained in Mechanical Engineering at the National University of Singapore. She completed her PhD in Biophysics at the Institut Jacques Monod, Paris studying the role of mechanical forces during cell migration, tissue homeostasis and boundary formation. In 2021 she moved to Cambridge as an EMBO Postdoctoral Fellow and Herchel Smith Fellow. She then and joined the lab of Dr. Fengzhu Xiong at the Wellcome Trust / CRUK Gurdon Institute to study the migratory role of avian embryos during development under the influence of mechanical forces. This would involve a combination of biophysical and biomolecular tools to study the role of mechanical forces in regulating the feedback between physical forces and embryonic development.
 
Website: Wellcome Trust / CRUK Gurdon Institute
 
Email: lb935@cam.ac.uk


Lucie Riglet, 2021
 
Lucie is a plant biologist interested in development and reproduction. After a Master’s degree in life sciences specialising in agriculture, agronomy and forestry, she completed her PhD at the Plant Reproduction and Development lab at the ENS Lyon (France) in 2018. She investigated the early interactions between stigma (female) and pollen (male) during reproduction, specifically the involvement of stigmatic cell mechanics in pollen tube guidance in Arabidopsis thaliana. She then joined the Moyroud lab at the Sainsbury Laboratory (SLCU) in 2019 as a Research Associate. She is investigating the developmental processes used by flowering plants to pattern their petals and their role in pollinators attraction using imaging, genetics, computational modelling and pollinators behaviour assays.
 
Website: Sainsbury Lab
 
Email: lr498@cam.ac.uk


Pepen Supendi, 2021
 
Pepen is a seismologist interested in seismic tomography and seismicity. She studied Geophysical Engineering at Institut Teknologi Bandung, Indonesia, where he completed his Ph.D. in 2020. During his Ph.D., he investigated body-wave velocity structure in the Sunda-Banda Arc Transition Zone based on the travel time tomography and analysis of seismicity in the eastern part of Indonesia and shed light on the 2018 Lombok and Palu earthquake sequences. From 2008 he joined to Agency for Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics (BMKG) Indonesia. He joined Cambridge as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the group of Professor Nicholas Rawlinson at Bullard Laboratories, Department of Earth Sciences. His current research is to design and develop research procedures for imaging the 3D seismic velocity structure beneath Sulawesi (Indonesia) and its surroundings by applying local earthquake body wave travel-time tomography and analyzing Indonesia's seismicity.
 
Website: Department of Earth Sciences
 
Email: ps900@cam.ac.uk


Sarab Sethi, 2021
 
Sarab explores how the sounds of an ecosystem can be used to monitor biodiversity and ecological health on large scales. Following an Engineering degree at the University of Oxford, he did his PhD at Imperial College London across the departments of Mathematics, Life Sciences, and Engineering. Sarab has developed custom monitoring devices which transmit real-time data from remote field sites, as well as machine learning based analyses which provide insight into the community level dynamics of ecosystems. During his Herchel Smith fellowship, he will investigate whether soundscape dynamics can predict ecological tipping points. Additionally, he will explore how long term acoustic monitoring networks can best deliver real-world conservation impact, with case studies spread across the globe.
 
Website: Conservation Research Institute
 
Email: sss70@cam.ac.uk


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. Adrien is currently a Research Fellow at Darwin College.
 
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


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


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


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


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