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Personal profile

Biography

I'm deeply fascinated by the aspects of adaptation inherent  to evolutionary biology, as well as the effects of toxicant exposure at various levels of biological organisation.

My PhD from Cardiff University was in the field of ecotoxicology, whereby I focussed on a systems biology overview of the effects of arsenic exposure on invertebrate populations. Specialisation in population genetics allowed me to focus on adaptation and gene flow in an agricultural pest species while at CSIRO in Canberra, under a prestigious OCE fellowship.  

During these roles, I cultivated an interest in the variability of mutation rate across the genome and as such am using cancer as a model to define novel insights into mutational heterogeneity and its role in adaptation.

Qualifications

First (Hons) BSc Biological Sciences, Plymouth University, UK

PhD, Cardiff University and Centre of Ecology and Hydrology Wallingford, UK. Title: Mechanistic Bases of Metal Tolerance: Linking Phenotype to Genotype

Current Research Interests

I come from a deeply varied evolutionary biology background and most recently played a key role in a body of work titled “Pervasive lesion segregation shapes cancer genome evolution”. My co-authors and I discovered that DNA damage from mutagenic processes, such as UV irradiation and tobacco smoke, is heritable.

I designed and performed bioinformatic analyses able to demonstrate that repeated replication over unrepaired DNA adducts leads not only to allelic diversity, but also combinations of alleles. These patterns are consistent across a murine phylogeny and encouragingly, exploration of the molecular mechanisms underlying this previously unfounded source of cancer heterogeneity is providing a glut of fundamental insights into somatic evolutionary processes.

My current work within the MRC HGU is to understand the sources and effects of genetic diversity as I begin to unravel the effects of DNA damage retention in various contexts, including during development and tumouregensis. My work within Martin Taylor's lab and with our collaborators is already beginning to foster wide-reaching and impactful results on the role of exogenous exposure to mutagens.

Media

Meet the Scientist - for Boughton High School Careers Fair: https://media.ed.ac.uk/media/1_sipxu9wl

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