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People and their Stories

Read what staff and students have to say about the department, how they got here and what they like most about their jobs.


I started work at HRI Wellesbourne in 1994 after completing a BSc in Biology at Exeter and a PhD in plant-microbe interactions at Sheffield. HRI became part of Warwick in 2004, and my group moved to Gibbet Hill in 2011 just after SLS was formed. Transitioning from a research institute to a university department has involved massive changes in research focus, working culture and management style/complexity. But it has also opened exciting new research and teaching possibilities, and opportunities for personal development and training. While my funding sources have changed over the years, from Defra initially, to BBSRC and currently predominantly NERC, I’ve been able to maintain a research focus around plant-microbe-soil interactions and pollutant behaviour in the environment, while broadening from an applied agricultural context. Collaborative research has always been important to me, and working in a university has provided fantastic opportunities to develop interdisciplinary research networks and to consider my research in a much broader context. Working culture and environment has an enormous impact on the well-being of us all, and is vital for supporting outstanding research. I’ve been very pleased to contribute to SLS activities in this area over the last 4 years through the Athena SWAN committee, and by participating in wider University initiatives. There is still much we can do to promote a supportive, collegiate and inclusive culture in SLS and I hope the results of this year’s PULSE staff survey will provide key pointers to guide the work of the Athena SWAN committee, which will be led by Professor Johannes Boltze from January 2020.

Professor Gary Bending


I completed my PhD studies in 2012, in Human Cell Biology/Molecular Medicine in Oslo. I was then awarded an EMBO long-term postdoctoral fellowship with Warwick Medical School (2013-2015). I started working in the School of Life Sciences in 2015 as a Research Fellow. I was subsequently awarded a BBSRC Future Leader Fellowship. Since then, I set up my own lab and my own research on Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms of phage therapy. Since 2017, I have had a fixed-term Assistant Professor position, which has enabled me to expand my lab and my research even more. The School offers a very friendly environment for all the employees, students and staff and I have received great support from senior colleagues. In my job, I really like the combination of teaching, training and research. I very much enjoy teaching and training students, seeing them doing well and achieving their goals. As part of the Athena Swan Committee, I have pleasure organising beacon events with colleagues each summer - in 2019 this was Raising Awareness on Bullying and Harassment. These events have been very successful and enabled me to meet even more people in different disciplines to mine, which makes my job even more fascinating.

Dr Antonia Sagona, BBSRC Future Leader Fellow


I joined the School of Life Sciences in 2018 following postdocs at Colorado State University and Oregon State University. As a quantitative disease ecologist, my work combines mathematical models and data to understand how diseases spread and how they affect host populations. Warwick's Zeeman Institute for mathematical modelling and focus on interdisciplinary ecology has provided an exciting research and teaching environment.

Dr Erin Gorsich, Assistant Professor


I joined SLS for my undergraduate degree in Biomedical Sciences with an integrated Masters. I was instantly amazed by the support and welcoming environment in the Life Sciences department, so much so that I am continuing at Warwick to do my PhD. The opportunities that SLS have opened for me have been incredible, including being the Chair of the UG Student Staff Liaison Committee (SSLC) for 2 years, starting the BioCafe peer support programme, and being involved in the Athena SWAN committee to represent students. I look forward to my coming years at Warwick.

Raksha Gohel, Undergraduate Student (fourth year)


I joined the School of Life Sciences in 2012 as a Teaching Fellow straight from completing a short post doc position and PhD in reproductive physiology at the University of Nottingham. Before I embarked on my PhD I taught Biology in an inner city FE college for five years and prior to this I worked as a research technician at the Sanger Institute. My passion for biology is only rivalled by my passion for teaching and my experiences have led me to recognise the importance of understanding transitional barriers to education and the importance of practical skills. I’m fortunate to be part of an energetic and talented team and I enjoy the daily challenges of my role.

Dr Leanne Williams, Senior Teaching Fellow