I became interested in science during a GCSE history project on the history of medicine. I was fascinated by how some historical scientific discoveries, such as Lister’s discovery of germs and Jenner’s invention of the vaccine, had such a massive impact on our lives. For my undergraduate degree, I studied Chemistry at Warwick University, and I became interested in some of the natural chemicals produced by micro-organisms during an internship at the John Innes Centre in the second year of my degree. During my Masters project at Warwick, I researched natural chemicals produced by a bacteria called Streptomyces sclerotialus as potential new antibiotics. I then began my PhD at the University of Oxford, completing two short projects in microbiology labs, before beginning my PhD project.
When I’m not in the lab, I like to help inspiring future generations of scientists as part of the Oxford Hands-On Science team (http://oxhos.org/), and as part of the Oxford Scientist Magazine (www.oxsci.org), where I set up a science writing competition for school students. I am also interested in science policy, and recently took a break from my PhD research to research Children and Young Peoples’ Mental Health Services at the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology. You can read a short collection of blog posts about my experience in Parliament here, and see my published POSTnote here.
My research interests surround antibiotics; from how they are produced at the chemical level, to how bacterial infections evolve resistance to them. My PhD research focusses on a bacteria called MRSA, which can cause infections in hospital patients that can be difficult to treat due to its resistance to almost all known antibiotics.
Through experimental and computational approaches, I study one of the major types of MRSA, called the Brazilian strain, which has become one of the most prevalent global strains of MRSA. This is despite an unusual genetic origin, caused by the natural splicing together of two existing “parent” MRSA strains, leading to one “super” MRSA.
The questions I am trying to answer in my PhD are:
- How did the Brazillian strain evolve to be so successful, despite its unusual and potentially limiting origin?
- What are the negative effects of the Brazillian strain’s origin, on fitness and growth?
- Jul - present: The stabilisation of genetic elements carrying antibiotic resistance genes. Craig MacLean Group, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford.
- Apr - Jul 2016: Cytotoxicity in Staphylococcus aureus isolates. David Wylie Group, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford.
- Jan - Apr 2016: Fitness costs and maintenance of antibiotic resistance plasmids in E. coli. Craig MacLean Group. Department of Zoology, University of Oxford.
- Jun - Jul 2015: Expression of the avermectin biosynthetic gene cluster in heterologous hosts. Christophe Corre Group, Department of Microbial Biology, University of Warwick.
- Sep 2014: UK Residential Chemistry Training Experience, Medicines Research Centre, GlaxoSmithKline.
- Jul - Aug 2014: Study of enzymes involved in glycogen synthesis in Mycobacterium tuberculosis as potential targets for anti-TB therapies. Stephen Bornemann Group, Department of Biological Chemistry, John Innes Centre.
- Jul - Aug 2013: Lipid analysis of migratory diatoms in mudflat sediments. Kevin Purdy Group, Department of Microbial Biology, University of Warwick.
May 2018 DTC Public Engagement Award
May 2018 Society for Applied Microbiology Public Engagement Grant
Sep 2015 BBSRC Scholarship
Jul 2014 RSC Undergraduate Research Bursary
Jul 2013 Warwick Monash Alliance Bursary
Dec 2012 NMTF Harry Cross Grant