Meet the Team
At school I was keen on running and watching tv. I wondered about becoming a designer, but ended up scraping into university, running some more, and having it gradually dawn on me that I wanted to be a scientist. The little flame of my enthusiasm was ignited by working in the lab as a final year undergraduate, doing my own experiments in pursuit of my own, in retrospect ill-conceived, scientific questions. My now-self profoundly agrees with my then-self, that doing good experiments is at the very heart of science.
I studied double maths, physics and history for A-levels. This reflects my generalist approach to my work that continues today. As an undergraduate, I studied maths and physics, before going on to a PhD in theoretical physics. Towards the end of my PhD, I began looking for new directions and was very excited by the emerging field of quantitative biology. I began my own lab in 2013 in Singapore, where I grew an interdisciplinary team studying how complex organ shape emerges during development. In 2021 I moved back to the UK, to join Warwick Medical School. My lab focuses on how our organs form, in particular the heart and skeletal muscle. My lab contains mathematicians, computer scientists, developmental biologists and microscopists, facilitating an interdisciplinary research environment.
My early years were spent near Manchester, mostly playing football and riding bikes whilst quietly wondering how the universe works. School science just didn’t seem to focus on the big science questions, but once at university and seeing what was possible with molecular biology, I realised that this was all I wanted to do. From there I have worked with amazing people in amazing places and now have the privilege of spending my days discovering how the machinery inside a cell works (whilst still riding my bike). It’s clear we'll need to combine the powers of molecular biology, physics and chemistry to really figure out how life works. This course will set you on the path to do just that.
When I was young, I secretly wanted to be a librarian (the possibility of having endless books to read was tremendously appealing), while my family wanted me to be a doctor. But when I was at high school, my aunt who is a biochemist, introduced me to biological research and as much as I loved reading, I found research much more exciting. When I started out I was not really sure whether I wanted to do this for the rest of my life, but now I can’t really see myself doing anything else. On an average day I switch between doing experiments and reading or bits of writing, so while it can get stressful, it never gets boring. My primary research interest is in understanding how cells migrate. One of the things that I find especially fascinating about cell migration is that cells continually communicate with each other and their surroundings while they are busy moving about, and I am currently studying cell migration in fruit fly embryos to understand this complex behaviour further.
I wanted to be everything from an engineer, and a cricket player, to a classical music singer. I didn't make it into engineering in the brutally competitive entrance tests and got admission to college through my cricket skills. Once in college, I knew I wanted an academic career, in chemistry I thought then. I loved the way that the same molecule could be synthesised in a number of ways, if you thought hard and experimented fearlessly. My research interests evolved gradually from organic chemistry to biotechnology to microbiology to cell and synthetic biology now. Research is a lot of fun, gripping, exciting, and I am amazed we get paid to do what we really enjoy doing!
From a young age I was a dedicated geek. I had no particular preference for any subject and just enjoyed learning about anything and everything. My first ambition was to be a fighter pilot in the RAF, but began to gravitate towards the sciences as my father was a pharmacist and I was interested in the challenges of studying the mechanism of action of drugs. However, it was undertaking and planning practical science for the first time during a final year undergraduate lab project that really convinced me that a career in research was for me. The evolution of genuine interdisciplinarity to solve important biological problems has allowed me to engage in learning on many fronts, from computation, to biophysics, to molecular biology. How cool is it to have all these areas of learning in one course?!
I grew up one of five kids in a tiny council house in Ipswich. My parents were devout Christians, but they were generally supportive of my interest in science, although any talk of evolution at the dinner table was, and still is, frowned upon. I didn't really have any plans to be a scientist. I chose Biology as an A-level because I had a friend doing it. However, by the time I finished my A-levels I was pretty much gripped: even before I started my undergraduate degree I knew I wanted to do a PhD and work in a research lab. My one bugbear with current science degrees is too much emphasis on memory and regurgitation and not enough real-world problem solving. Why play for fun when you can play for keeps?
I grew up in a small town in the Italian alps and, despite always being very curious, I was mostly preoccupied with having fun with my friends. Things changed in high-school. I was lucky to have a superlative literature teacher, who worked his magic and managed to show me how rich and beautiful is the world of ideas that the great minds of the past left us in their writings. I was totally sold. From art to science is a short step, and I decided to try my luck with a Physics MSc. It was a tough and exhilarating four years, but the effort paid off and I made it through and into graduate school in the US (serendipitously, but that’s another story), where I moved from theoretical particle physics, to mathematical physics, to experimental soft condensed matter. After some time, though, I had enough of squidgy and inanimate. That’s when I (re)discovered biology. Looking at biology from a quantitative physics background one can really start to appreciate that the elegant and fantastically complex world of living matter in fact “makes sense”, physically speaking. I really believe that an integrated point of view on biology is the correct way to advance our understanding of life, and that’s precisely what our course aims to provide. I’m really excited to be part of it!
I was all set on a career in music technology until my sixth form college abruptly pulled the A-level just before I started. This fortuitously led me to study Physics instead, which showed me how beautiful and connected the laws that govern our world are, and to appreciate that biological systems must also play by these “rules” in spite of their astounding complexity. After initially studying the biophysics of immune cell activation, I have now begun to use engineering approaches that rely on chemical and optical control over cellular function to understand how intracellular signalling networks are capable of decoding information. This has allowed me to combine my childhood interest in computing with the lab; maybe someday I’ll even get my cells to make music…
At school I always enjoyed science especially Biology and Chemistry. I didn’t like Physics which I blame my teachers for who, I believe, lacked true interest and passion in the subject. After secondary school I followed my interests and enrolled at university to study Biotechnology. It was a BIG step into my adulthood and at the same time one of the best periods in my life. Away from my home town (and parents) I could experience freedom as well as full responsibility for my own life.
My studies and later research career let me realise how world is wonderfully made and how diverse and complex it is. There is no doubt that discovering its wonders can become a great passion for one’s life and allow humanity to understand it a bit more.
One of my greatest joys is reading books. I prefer non-fiction and most of my favourite books relate to medicine and psychology but, as a teenager, I used to read horror and love stories too.
I can confess that apart from my career path I have always dreamt about having my own family which currently is my biggest source of happiness and fulfilment.
When I was growing up, my first passion was dance, especially Tap dance. Starting from the age of five, I enrolled for a weekly dance school where I was trained in Ballet, Jazz and Tap dance, and I adored Tap for its combination of physical movement and rhythm. But towards the end of high-school, I found a second passion in physics and loved how much insight one can gain about the inner workings of this world by breaking down a complex process into its parts that can be analysed one by one. This is in fact not very different from the process in dance as well, and, I guess, my fascination of the complexities that can arise from a combination of simple processes that arise to one big choreography is what keeps me going.
In my first year of university, I took an optional module that combined lectures about cell division and the experiments at the marine biology station using sea urchins. The cleavage of the sea urchin embryos in real time under the microscope was so beautiful - it fascinated me. The module was led by Dr. Issei Mabuchi, who had discovered ~10 years previously that the cleavage of the animal cell at cell division is driven by a similar mechanism to muscle contraction. He told me that I was watching the real scientific problem, i.e., regardless of accumulating anatomical knowledge such as which part of the mitotic spindle positions the site of cleavage, almost nothing was known about the mechanisms at a molecular level. I somehow believed that this is something worth spending many years of my life trying to solve. I hope you, in this course, find something that might keep you inspired through your life, or at least learn the skills that will help you to do so in the future.
I grew up in East Germany as a daughter of a theoretical physicist and a microbiologist, so science was somehow pre-programmed. I went to a grammar school with a focus on natural sciences, maths and technology. In the meantime, the wall came down and my world became quite a bit larger. I went to Hamburg to study biochemistry and molecular biology, a course with an intake of 20 students with a lot of time spent in various labs from analytical and physical chemistry to virology, plant genetics and protein biochemistry. When looking for a PhD position, I figured out that one can study transport inside cells. So off I went to the other side of Germany to study molecular motors and microtubules - and got hooked. My lab is still studying motors and microtubules with a wide range of techniques from imaging live cells to biochemistry and biophysics.
I grew up in South Africa where I wanted to be a wildlife vet, but by the time I reached university my interests had moved on to much, much smaller things and I ended up studying microbiology. One of my final year courses was virology which I absolutely loved, and so I was really happy to carry this on during my PhD where I worked on influenza viruses. My research group now focuses on using microscopy and other biophysical methods to study a range of different viruses, as well as developing new ways to diagnose viral pathogens. It’s fascinating to work at the interface of biology and physics, and this degree offers a fantastic opportunity to learn how interdisciplinary research works.
Over the last 12 years, I have enjoyed working in a variety of roles in the education sector, before joining Warwick Medical School in 2020. As Undergraduate Coordinator, I will be your first point of contact for providing help, information and administrative assistance on all aspects of your course. I am looking forward to meeting you all and supporting you throughout the duration of your studies at WMS!
I have a mainly customer service based background, previously working in hospitality. My first role at Warwick Medical School was as a secretary within the postgraduate education team.
In my current role, I am one of the first points of contact for our undergraduate students, providing information, advice and administrative support on all aspects of our undergraduate courses.