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Meet some of us!

Find about more about some of our students, alumni and staff....

 
 
 
Dani Groves

Dani Groves

I always enjoyed science at school but I wasn't sure how to take it further until I was lucky enough to attend the UNIQ summer school at the University of Oxford, an access programme for state school students from WP backgrounds. I didn't have a lot of support from school in terms of pursuing science or getting into university, so UNIQ really gave me the opportunity to try out biomedical science and feel confident enough to tackle the application process! I discovered I loved everything infection and immunity during my undergraduate degree and my project supervisor Prof Sarah Rowland-Jones encouraged me to stay in science by offering me the opportunity to work as a research assistant in an infectious disease lab! I was really excited about the MRC-DTP programme at Warwick because of the opportunity to integrate different disciplines, and here I am now starting my PhD in Dr Nicole Robb's lab using biophysics to image viruses! I feel really lucky to be able to work on something I am passionate about and also make the most of the community and sports opportunities that come with university life!

Stella Zhan

Stella Zhan

Growing up in Italy, I had the opportunity to study different subjects at high school, including Philosophy, Latin, Sciences and Maths. My higher education journey started with me being undecided as to whether to study Maths or Medicine. It might sound surprising, but when I was watching a drama, I came across the role of a medical statistician. This position has immediately attracted me because it would allow me to combine my two interests. Therefore, I decided to do a BSc in Mathematics with Statistics with a Year in Employment, working as a non-clinical statistician at GSK. Thanks to this practical experience, I was much more informed about what I wanted to do after graduation. I enjoyed doing research and was not keen on working on routine projects, as well as I wasn’t sure if I want to work in Statistics for the rest of my life. This programme was such an exciting opportunity for me to learn more about disciplines other than Statistics and to continue doing research while conserving the industrial contribution. I am currently doing my PhD, in collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim, focused on innovative statistical methods for clinical trial pathways supporting regulatory drug approval.

Richard Allen

Richard Allen

Growing up in the valleys of South Wales in a family with little academic links, we couldn’t have predicted I’d become a scientist. I’ve never been set on a specific career other than doing what I enjoyed, and thanks to a truly brilliant secondary school teacher, biology became the subject I enjoyed the most. It wasn’t until my second year of a biology undergraduate degree that I found my passion within biology for infection and immunity, and biosecurity. As we know all too well recently, pathogens cause a lot of suffering but how they infect and our bodies' ability to fight back is what I find truly fascinating! During my undergraduate final year, after attending a careers talk I was fully convinced against postgraduate study or research but a few months later and a pandemic in hand, I stumbled across this DTP which changed my mind about it all. Now I’m at the beginning of a PhD in Dr Meera Unnikrishnan’s lab investigating how bacterial pathogens manipulate the immune system! Being a part of this DTP I feel I have joined a friendly community that shares a drive for biomedical research and gives a sense of belonging. I now can’t imagine starting in academic research without the support, skills, and opportunities this DTP has provided me.

JJ Awodipe

JJ Awodipe

As a child I never settled on what I wanted to do as a career. One day I would want to be a pilot because my grandmother wanted to travel; the next day I would want to be a teacher because I really liked my teachers. I realise now each career choice was made because of what I experienced and the people I saw in those roles. As a result, research was a career that never crossed my mind. No one I knew needed a research break-through and I had never come across a researcher. I also could not see many people who were young, female or people of colour in this career. However, I have always loved science and this led me to study Biomedical Science at the University of Birmingham. It wasn’t until my final year mini-project when I worked under the supervision of a young, female scientist that I began to see research as a potential career choice for me. I was also privileged to have an amazing personal tutor during my undergraduate degree and he encouraged me to see my age, gender and race as an advantage when applying for PhD programmes like this. Now I work with bacteria to understand how they interact with our cells and I love every second of it!

Meera Unnikrishnan

Meera Unnikrishnan

I grew up in India and from very early on I was keen to study Medicine. However, due to the competition, I had to settle for a Microbiology degree. Although the plan was to apply for Medicine again, I ended up falling in love with Microbiology and also realised that doing research and discovering new things was more exciting. After my Masters, I moved to the UK to do a PhD in Microbiology, studying bacterial pathogenesis, and here I became fascinated by how pathogens interact with the host. I went on to do my postdoctoral training at Harvard University, Boston, where I studied different pathogens, and how mammalian cells respond to them. I also tried doing science in an international vaccine company in Italy, which was great experience, but then eventually decided that academia is more fun. More recently I have been working across disciplines, applying novel chemistry and engineering solutions to biological questions. I think that there are some very clever pathogens around us, and there is a lot that we do not understand about them. My group now focuses on understanding medically important pathogens, how they establish infections and how we could best target them.

 
Robert Dallmann

Robert Dallmann

I grew up in the basement of a secondary school with a great library and biology tract with everything from newts to 2 headed piglets; my father was the janitor and I had full access after-hours, enabling me to learn new things about people and all kinds of (once) living organisms. Studying circadian clocks in many different systems allows me to discover more diverse and fascinating facets of the living world. In fact, I wanted to be a school janitor myself, but then was fortunate enough to be supported by my parents to be the first in my family to go to university. I studied Maths and Biology with a plan to come back back "home" as a teacher. During my thesis work, however, the research bug bit me when analysing recordings of silvery gibbons from Java. After discovering that analysis of gibbon vocalisations involves much less hardship then actually recording those songs in the field and being bitten by various actual bugs and leeches, I switched to lab-based research on circadian clocks for my PhD. Clocks are in virtually all living things from bacteria to plants and people, and are involved in most biological processes from the single cell biochemistry to organismal level physiology and behaviour.

Randa Elsayed

Randa Elsayed

I have always wanted to help people and make a difference, and so was keen to study medicine. However, having worked as a hospital volunteer for a few years, I realised that I did not enjoy seeing patients suffer. I knew that I enjoyed studying chemistry and biology at school so studied biochemistry at Queen Mary University of London. In my 2nd year I became fascinated by prion disease and by research that is ongoing to combat the disease. This led me to pursue an MSc in Neuroscience where l gained valuable laboratory experience, and I then knew that I wanted to be a scientist. I worked as a researcher at King's College London where I learnt about diseases that affect early development, and became excited about doing a PhD in this field. This led me to apply to the MRC DTP. I particularly enjoyed the bioinformatics courses which was not only useful during my PhD where I used this skill to analyse Omics data, but is also an attractive skill to have on your CV. I am currently working as a post-doc at the University of Sheffield, where I study tissue morphogenesis.

Elena Carter

Elena Carter

I’d always had a plan to be a teacher, I was extremely fortunate throughout school to come across wonderful teachers who were passionate about education and making school a great place to be. It was only during my A Levels that my teachers started to suggest pursuing academia further, and alongside my parents they helped me apply to university to study Medical Microbiology. Science wasn’t something I’d say I’d always considered or saw myself in, but I was good at it and enjoyed it enough. It was only when I studied Biology at A Level and we were introduced to infectious diseases and the tiny organisms that caused them that I became invested. Every day I get to learn something new about how these miniscule, living things can cause us harm, and how we can tackle the fiendish methods they’ve evolved to do so. I feel very fortunate to be able to work on and learn about something I love, whilst hopefully uncovering something that will help future budding scientists with how they look at these microorganisms too!

Will Scott

Will Scott

Living in a rural West Country village (primarily populated by pensioners) can be pretty isolating for kids, so my brothers and I would spend a lot of our time reading. My favourite was the ‘Horrible Science’ series by Nick Arnold, which my Uncle gave me one Christmas. I remember becoming enthralled, even thinking I’d make new discoveries, such as the secret to time travel, if I read enough. As I grew older I wanted a career that could help people and involved my interest in science, so I pursued a biochemistry degree and now a PhD to train in biomedical research. My two long-term goals are to contribute to medical tools/knowledge and advocate for LGBTQIA+ representation and equity across all levels of academia. I’m realising that scientific research is an unrestricted outlet for exploration of your interests and expression of your point of view - I love it!

Sam Dean

Sam Dean

I never really had a big plan to be a scientist, I always just did the thing that interested me most at the time. At A-levels this was Biology, Chemistry and English Literature, and this took me to the University of Edinburgh where I studied Biological Sciences, gravitating towards Molecular Biology by my final year.

It wasn’t until I was working as a research assistant in biotech and applying for PhDs that I realised that I was all about the parasites. I really like the fact they have these complex lives that are elaborately intertwined with our own biology. In fact, although parasites cause some of the most terrible diseases known to humanity, you will find that most parasitologists are really rather fond of them! Since I have joined WMS I have started to leverage them as a fantastic model system for understanding core eukaryotic biology and human genetic diseases.

 
Rebecca Mackley

Rebecca Mackley

Growing up I always wanted to be a teacher, my goal was set and I had planned out my route to becoming one. That was until I did a one-week work experience at a local primary school and that was enough to tell me that I never wanted to be a teacher. So I had to search for a new career path. I had always loved science and maths but growing up on a council estate in the north east of England, I never realised that you could actually have a career as a scientist. My GCSE physics teacher was very passionate about science and further education and he helped me go through the options that were available. So I studied physics at university, initially wanting to go into astrophysics or particle physics research. However, the field felt too narrow and I wanted to be able to study in more than one area of STEMM. I ultimately did my undergraduate and masters theses in the area of medical physics which led me down the route of interdisciplinary work. Now for my PhD, I find myself working with surgeons, chemists, material scientists and people from all areas of STEMM who are keen and willing to collaborate.

Outside of my PhD, I love to read and watch TV and I have a love/hate relationship with running.

Mahir Taher

Mahir Taher

I come from a fairly large yet not diverse town down south in Hampshire. My parents migrated over before I was born, and growing up in a predominantly Asian Muslim household, I wasn’t encouraged to do much bar blindly pursue religion and education. Although I rebelled against the former, I ended up doing alright with school and took maths, physics and biology for college. I was fortunate enough to go to a college that explained the process of going to uni and be surrounded by peers who were all considering higher education and had guidance to offer, especially as I had no other personal role models in higher education. As soon as I found out I’d be getting student loans and bursaries to go to uni, I was effectively sold. I settled for a biomedical engineering degree, which was ultimately pretty enjoyable as I like the combination of physics and biology. I additionally got a taste of academia in my undergrad project, making me realise that I greatly value the flexibility of an academic research environment and the nature of learning and applying knowledge in research (particularly in interesting topics like Alzhiemer’s). Whilst applying for the funded MRC DTP was in part motivated by my desire for ‘job security’ during Corona, I am feeling happy with how the past year has gone and look forward to working on my PhD, grateful for the community and guidance of this DTP and past to get me to such a fortunate position I hadn’t envisioned even a year prior.

 
A Godfrey

Amy Godfrey

I never knew what I wanted to be, and considered everything from teacher to artist to vet, but I always knew that it had to be something practical. With no other members of my family having attended higher education, I wasn't sure if I could even make it to studying at university level. It was English teachers, Miss Malik and Mr Flack who took the time to go through the application processes, and explain how anyone can go to university, regardless of their background. After enjoying science at GCSE, at A-level I took Chemistry, Physics and Maths, and continued the chemistry here at Warwick, finding that I loved the practical side of biology after a simple protein-based experiment, and some medicinal chemistry modules. My MChem project evolved from these interests, and where I realised a future in research was for me. When I joined the MRC DTP, I was unsure how I would get on with limited biology experience, but after meeting my year group, and having the invaluable MSc year, I was ready to dive head first into a Biomedical Research PhD, engineering a naturally occurring protein nanosyringe.

Alongside my PhD, I have been able to try out science communication and teaching, hosting a work experience student from a local school, leading revision classes, and demonstrating experiments at Open Days and Outreach events. When I’m not in the lab, I like to keep occupied with cooking, badminton and running. In a moment of madness, I also found myself training for the London Marathon, where the MRC DTP has been incredible helping with my fundraising events.

 

 
Jonathan MIllar

Jonathan Millar

I studied natural sciences at university and something life changing happened at my very first year biology practical. We were asked to count the number of male and female flies, which could be distinguished by their eye colour and the length of their wings. I identified a fly, through the microscope, with one red eye and one white eye and one long wing and one short one - so it was genetically half male and half female. I thought that was just amazing. I later found out this phenotype, called bilateral gynandromorphism, was caused by a mistake in chromosome segregation during the first cell division of life. Ironically, I was taught at university by Tim Hunt, a brilliant and enthusiastic lecturer, who later got the Nobel Prize in 2001 for his discoveries of how the cell cycle worked. I was hooked so went on to do a PhD at the Cancer Research UK Laboratories in London and then a post-doc at The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego. I started my own laboratory at the National Institute for Medical Research in London and moved to the University of Warwick in 2006 as a Professor of Cell Biology. Now, as Director of Warwick’s MRC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) in Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research, I really enjoy advising, encouraging and supporting enthusiastic students at the beginning of their careers in science and medicine. Come and join us!

Chelsea Brown

Chelsea Brown

Growing up in a house in Sunderland with my mam (an art graduate) and my dad (a police officer), science wasn’t a huge part of my life. My teachers told me that I could go in to medicine, so I took biology, chemistry and maths at A-level. My twin did the same so there was always someone to talk though science with. I had a fantastic chemistry teacher who took the time to explain the world around us using chemistry. When I just missed my grades to get into medical school, I decided to do chemistry at Newcastle University. Here I first experienced medicinal chemistry and interdisciplinary science, it made so much sense to tackle issues in this way.

Before I started my PhD I worked as a science communicator for 2 years in Birmingham’s Thinktank museum (so much fun!). But I realised that just teaching science wasn’t quite enough for me, I really wanted to get back into research.

Now in my research I’m using all my skills learned in my degree and more! When I’m not doing research, I subject myself to misery supporting Newcastle United. You can also find me indoor bouldering whenever I get chance.

K Stokes

Katy Stokess

Studying science has always been a no-brainer for me, who wouldn’t want to make discoveries that could improve people’s lives?! This translated into a sense that I didn’t mind ‘what’ I was doing, provided I was working towards this goal. Studying Natural Sciences offered lots of variety, including an industry year improving solar cell efficiency and a final year project applying game theory to amoeba spore allocation. Although I had always felt drawn to a PhD, after five years of study, I wanted a different research experience (and £!). I secured a 3-year research associate post at Warwick, investigating genomic stability, which was both challenging and rewarding. Although the knowledge and commitment of my colleagues was very inspiring, my interests were steering more towards applied biomedical research. The MRC DTP offered the perfect opportunity to expand my computational skills and pursue a PhD. Having joined the ABSPIE lab, working on applying AI to health problems, I have had the opportunity to meet and work with amazing scientists from across the world. My experiences with the DTP and in the lab have been overwhelmingly positive and I have felt a real commitment to improving culture and inclusivity in science.

Nicole Robb

Nicole Robb

I grew up in South Africa where I had big plans to be a wildlife vet (working at Johannesburg Zoo during my teens) but by the time I reached university my interests had moved on to much, much smaller things and I ended up studying ‘Biology with Microbiology’ at Imperial College London. One of my final year courses was virology which I absolutely loved, and so I was really happy to get a PhD place at the University of Oxford, to work on influenza viruses with Prof. Ervin Fodor. My next step was a jump into biophysics, with a post-doc in the lab of Prof. Achilles Kapanidis in the physics department. Here I was introduced to the fascinating world of single-molecule fluorescence and microscopy, which are great tools for studying and observing small things – especially viruses! I was really lucky to get a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship (this is a flexible fellowship for scientists with caring responsibilities – I balance lab time with looking after three small daughters!) to start my own group in 2017. I got my first two PhD students shortly afterwards (both absolute super stars) and in 2020 moved my new lab to the Medical School at the University of Warwick.

 
Martin McAndrew

Martin McAndrew

For most of my life I had few intentions of doing academic research and I certainly did not think it would have suited me. In all honesty, it took until my undergrad to take my study seriously with sports being a higher priority throughout my adolescent years! I did really enjoy chemistry in my Leaving Certificate (A levels in Ireland) and that helped me choose a BSc course which focused on chemistry along with aspects of biochemistry and molecular biology. I loved the challenge of the increased difficulty and in particular enjoyed protein biochemistry and structural biology. After graduating I worked for a year in Quality Control testing for a biotech company and while I enjoyed my time there, I missed the excitement I got from learning and research. This led me to applying for the MRC DTP in IBR in Warwick where I felt the MSc year could prepare me for an interdisciplinary PhD. I knew I liked proteins and had grown an appreciation for the scale of the problems posed by AMR so putting together a project to study the biochemistry and structural biology of membrane proteins involved in AMR was a no brainer!

John Deering

John Deering

When I was at school I was good at two things: art and biology. I really wanted to be an artist, but I also wanted a job, so I ended up choosing general science in university. I quickly gravitated towards organic chemistry in my first year because I felt it offered a satisfying balance between creativity and logic and in my third year I transferred into medicinal chemistry. I decided to join the MRC-DTP at Warwick because the course offered a unique chance to train in both the chemical and biological areas of drug discovery, as well as offering industry experience through the iCASE stream.

 
Ben Lanza

Ben Lanza

I’m Ben Lanza and I’m a final year PhD student on the MRC DTP in IBR. My project focuses on the identification and validation of patient subgroups in confirmatory clinical trials defined by continuous biomarker values. My background is in mathematics and statistics, with my route through education gradually taking me to medical statistics. In particular I am interested in the application of statistical methodology within clinical trials and throughout healthcare more generally. I chose to do a PhD on the MRC DTP in IBR as the PhD project itself appealed to me and allowed me to work closely with industry also. I found the MSc year extremely beneficial as I experienced topics outside of my comfort zone and got to learn alongside people from a variety of backgrounds. I live in Leamington Spa with my fiancée Philippa, who is studying medicine at Warwick, and our cat Kevin.

 

 
Sam Garforth

Sam Garforth

I've always had an interest in science but for a while struggled to find my real focus. After unsuccessfully applying for medicine and a year working in the NHS, I found myself really wanting to understand how and why biology works rather than just what happens when it goes wrong. After an undergraduate degree in Biochemistry, I was drawn to the Warwick IBR program for the supportive DTP community and the flexibility it offered to widen your skills before getting stuck into a PhD project. I’m now studying the cell biology of the adaptive immune system and despite the expected and unexpected PhD challenges, I’m still excited every time I to go into a lab, put on a lab coat and try to make something new. When I’m not looking after my cell lines, I’m usually training for a marathon or training with the uni judo club.

Sally Blakeman

Sally Blakeman

I was the first person in my family to go to university, studying literature and sociology, and then later studying part-time for an MA whilst working. I spent many years working with lifelong learning students at Warwick, and have been working at Warwick Medical School for five years. I am now used to spending much of my time being a non-scientist in a world of scientists! I am the admin lead for the DTP and love the supportive and friendly community atmosphere that we have on the programme. All of the students and staff work exceptionally hard but try to have fun together too whenever possible at our regular cohort events and annual DTP conference. Outside of work I am an avid reader and clubberciser, and proud owner of Martha, honorary canine member of the course and amateur wellbeing dog.
 

Claire Mitchell

From a young age, I loved animals and dreamt of becoming a vet, but I realised early on I didn’t have the stomach for it. I still wanted to continue in a (less messy) scientific vein and pursued astrophysics at university - I loved understanding how the universe worked. I discovered, however, that astrophysics research was not for me, mostly spending a small amount of time at a telescope, followed by the rest of the year sat in front of a computer analysing the collected data. I took an elective in photonics and was enamoured by the beauty of non-linear optics and decided I would have more fun looking down microscopes than telescopes. Now I manage the microscopes in Warwick Medical School, it’s my job to make sure that ~£5M worth of advanced equipment used by over 100 researchers is all running smoothly.

Matt Gibson

Matt Gibson

I grew up in a family of builders and decorators and my mother (a language teacher) was the only other person to have any higher education so university and academic career was a bit of an unknown. Inspiration in my childhood came from involvement with the Scout organisation; being outside and ‘actually doing something’ was always important. I decided to pursue chemistry due to an A-Level teacher (Mrs Roche) who made it really engaging. After doing a Degree and PhD in chemistry I learnt to embrace how chemistry really is central to biological and medical questions and I now lead a team who ‘poke at biology’ with new chemical tools. Coming from a practical background really helps me have a healthy disregard for traditional disciplinary boundaries.