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Olivia Nippe

I am a PhD Applicant at University of Warwick, and will be working in Dr. Vardis Ntoukakis' lab in the School of Life Sciences, aiming to elucidate pathogenic manipulation of circadian regulation in the Arabipdosis immune system.

I obtained my BSc in Biochemistry from the University of York in 2014, and then continued on to pursue a Masters between Dr. Chris Elliott and Dr. Sangeeta Chawla's labs. My masters project involved the study of circadian rhythmicity in the visual contrast response of clock gene mutant fruit flies. The results of this work support the emerging hypothesis of an alternative circadian clock that is independent of the so-called clock genes, such as a highly conserved metabolilc oscillator. The work afforded me the oppurtunity to give an oral presentation at the European Biological Rhythms Conference and World Congress of Chronobiology in August 2015.

I am currently undertaking my first year in the MIBTP programme.


I chose to do my 3 month research placement in George Bassel's lab at the University of Birmingham. This dry project made use of the open source image manipulation software MorphoGraphX to create and examine 3D meshes of developing Arabidopsis primordial cell topology for evidence of association with the auxin expression gradient. By way of a computational morphodynamic approach we were able to identify differentiating patterns in primordium cell topology and geometery that likely govern subsequent lateral root morphogenetic events prior to cell type-specific gene expression. This may improve our ability to predict the onset of local expresion patterns in response to local growth-promoting hormones. It was great to expand upon the programming and statistics taught modules in our first year by choosing a dry short-term research project that touched upon manipulating python scripts and in-depth computational analysis of large data sets, as well as learning to the use the *incredibly* cool, if sometimes infuriating MorphoGraphX software.

For my PIPS placement I undertook a proffesional internship placement at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, during which time I acted as a Volunteer Herbarium Curator as well as an Education and Outreach Assitant. This involved the mass curation of herb specimens collected by RBGE botanists (cataloguing specimen identities from Family taxonomy level downwards, checking our archive for any duplicates, prepping new specimens to be mounted, and then sending on duplicates to other herbaria to help complete their own collections). I also spent a few days a week in the Education department assisting the running of science outreach workshops for local school children (ages 5 through to secondary school ages) and adults (Science technicians). These workshops covered a wide range of topics and catered to many abilities, with simpler activities enthusing younger children about nature, gardening, and where their food comes from, up to running Continued Professional Development (PCD) courses for Science technicians in micropropogation and aseptic technique for use in teaching secondary students. It was a fantastic oppurtunity to get a feel for computational organisation of large quantities of data as well as how to organise, run and improve public engagement programmes for the general public.