Cohort Champions

Meet the Cohort Champions for the Black STEMM Futures Programme

Fran Gale

I am the Education and Learning Manager for Wellcome Connecting Science at the Wellcome Genome Campus in Cambridgeshire. I gained a BSc Hons in Biological Sciences from the University of Exeter and after that I worked as Education Officer at Colchester Zoo. Here I ran the education programme and taught children of all ages about animals and conservation.  I studied part time to get a MSc in Science communication and then joined the Public Engagement team at the Wellcome Genome Campus where I lead the education programme working with scientists to support the teaching of genomics in schools.  I love working with young people and talking about science!

Fran’s favourite science fact: wombats are the only animal on earth that produce cube-shaped poo!

Em Dixon

I am a science communicator and educator with a background in cell biology. At school and uni I really loved science, but worked out I was better at talking about it than doing it myself. Now I work with scientists to help them share their science with school groups, and I organise webinars and events to help make science more accessible to school students and teachers. I love developing hands-on activities to bring science to life. 

Em’s favourite science fact: Pluto’s year (the time it takes to orbit the sun) is so long that it has been discovered, categorised as a planet and then de-categorised as a planet all in the same year!

Kate Mellor Wright

 I am a genomic epidemiologist with a background in clinical veterinary medicine. I work within a team of scientists to investigate a type of bacteria which is a major cause of pneumonia and meningitis in worldwide. We use genomic data to understand how the bacteria (Streptococcus pneumoniae) vary between countries and over time which helps with designing effective vaccinations and monitoring their impact. I am passionate about answering questions which can have a positive impact on human and/or animal health.

Kate’s favourite science fact: Tardigrades (aka water bears) are microscopic creatures are which can survive extreme conditions including 30-years without food or water and even the vacuum of outer space! 

Chloe Pacyna

I’m a second year PhD student at the Wellcome Sanger Institute.  I’m from the US, where I attended Johns Hopkins University for undergraduate degrees in biophysics and the history of science.  In my PhD, I use genomics and informatics to study how human cells change in development and in diseases like cancer.  After my PhD, I plan to become a physician-scientist who treats children with cancer.

Chloe’s favourite science fact: if you stretched out all the DNA from each of the cells in the human body, it’d be about 46 billion miles long.  That’s enough to go to the Sun and back 250 times! 

Nathaniel Anderson

I am a postdoctoral researcher at the Wellcome Sanger Institute in Cambridgeshire. I completed my Honours Bachelors of Science (HBSc) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at the University of Toronto in the field of ‘Cancer Genomics’. I study the DNA changes that occur in bone and muscle cancers to understand how they arise. I use computational approaches, or ‘bioinformatics’, for my research.

Nathaniel’s favourite science fact: the human genome contains three billion base pairs of DNA. If unwound and linked together, the strands of DNA in each of your cells would be 6 feet long!

Anne Bishop

I’m a biology researcher, working partly in a lab and partly with data on the computer to understand and try to prevent bacterial gut infections, such as cholera.  Education and a research career have enabled me to discover exciting things and meet amazing people worldwide.  I was the first student from a Tertiary College in Derby to get into Oxford, where I was awarded a degree in Biochemistry. At University College, London, I then gained a PhD in cancer cell biology, then switched to infectious diseases working at Imperial College, then in Boston, USA, and for a month in Bangladesh.  I took nine years out of research to focus on my kids, whilst also lecturing in Biology at the University of Nottingham.  Now at The Wellcome Sanger Institute, Cambridge I have a special grant for people who took a research career break.  Outside of work, I love to run, read and sing.

Anne’s favourite science fact: The average human body contains ten times more bacterial cells than human cells and most of them do us no harm or are helping us.

Jacqui Brown

Before joining the Sanger Centre I worked in various institutes such as Guy’s Hospital in the oral pathology department, and Murex Diagnostics, producing and testing Enzyme linked Immuno-Assay (EIA) kits. I joined the Sanger Centre in 1998, and have worked on various projects, in different teams.  Prior to my current position I worked in the Bespoke Team in DNA pipelines, where work predominantly involved Sanger Sequencing and Next generation sequencing.

Jacqui’s favourite science fact: in some conditions hot water freezes faster than cold water – this is known as the Mpemba effect, named after Erasto Mpemba who was born in Tanzania. It is still not fully understood why this happens! 

Kathryn Murie

In 2019 I graduated from Edinburgh with a Masters in Physics. Since then I have worked in the Pathogen Informatics team at Sanger. We work to support the scientific research being carried out in the Parasites and Microbes teams. Throughout my degree I was interested in Biology so pursued projects which crossed the two disciplines. I realised the skills I had learned in my Physics degree, such as computing and statistics, leant themselves nicely to this. I love that there are a huge range of people with different skills that contribute to the science being carried out on campus.

Kathryn’s favourite science fact: if you removed the empty space from the atoms that make up all the humans on the planet, we could all fit inside an apple

Florent Lassalle

I’m a postdoctoral researcher at the Sanger Institute, using bioinformatics to study the evolution of microbes and in particular the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, which is the cause of the epidemic disease cholera. I studied biology in France at the University of Lyon, where I started to be interested in microbiology during my Master’s and PhD degrees, then working on Agrobacterium tumefaciens, a bacterium that causes disease on plants and trees. During my PhD, I mostly self-trained in informatics – but with a very favourable environment of great statisticians and bioinformaticians around me who could spare the time showing me the tricks – so I hope to pay back the favour now! After that, I worked at University College London and Imperial College London, studying the evolution of many different microbes, including human herpesviruses and arsenic-eating bacteria.

Florent’s favourite science fact: Bacteria live  within every one of our cells! Mitochondria are microscopic powerhouses located within each of our cells that allow us – and every animal, plant or fungus – to breath, through the process of respiration of oxygen. These mitochondria used to be bacteria! Billion years ago they got engulfed and trapped into a bigger organism, the ancestor of all Eukaryotes.

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