Directory of College Associates

Levin A
Dr Aviad Levin
College Research Associate
Natural Science (Biological)
Biophysical Chemistry, Peptide Self-Assembly, Protein Aggregation, Biotechnology.
In nature, sophisticated materials and structures are formed through self-assembly, a process where chemically simple building blocks form complex arrays of biomolecules functioning cooperatively to underpin biological activity in living systems. This phenomenon has inspired a sustained research effort to elucidate the basic physical principles which govern self-assembly and the nature of the structures that emerge from this process, in contexts ranging from artificial materials to understanding human disease. My research interests lie in developing microfluidic approaches for the study of the fundamental driving forces involved in the self-assembly of peptides and proteins into ordered structures on the very small scale at which such processes occur inside living cells. By harnessing small volume confinement achieved by microfluidics, I specifically focus on the early molecular level interactions that trigger protein aggregation and deposition in aberrant protein disorders. I will further focus on elucidating the mechanism by which misfolded protein species can propagate in tissues. I thus aim to extend current biophysical approaches and gain fundamental understanding of the behaviour of biomolecules in systems with spatial inhomogeneities, thus bridging length scales from the atomic through nano to the microscale.
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Leonie Luginbuehl
Leonie Luginbuehl
Natural Science (Biological)
Multicellularity has evolved repeatedly across the tree of life and allowed the elaboration of fundamental biological processes ranging from organ development and reproduction to specialised metabolisms compartmented into specific cell types. One particularly striking example of this phenomenon is associated with photosynthesis, the process by which inorganic carbon is fixed into sugars. In plants that use the C4 photosynthesis pathway, two cell types in the leaf, the mesophyll and bundle sheath cells, co-operate to separate the metabolic reactions of photosynthesis into two different spatial compartments. This compartmentalisation drastically increases photosynthetic efficiency. As a consequence, many of the world’s most productive crops, such as maize, are C4 plants. A key step in C4 evolution was to restrict the expression of photosynthesis genes, which are expressed in all cell types in leaves of ancestral C3 plants, to either mesophyll or bundle sheath cells. Using photosynthesis as a model, my research aims to understand the genetic basis of cell type specific gene expression in leaves. I am using a combination of experimental, computational, and synthetic biology approaches to identify the gene regulatory mechanisms underlying cell type specific gene expression in C3 and C4 species.
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Mackereth photo
Kerry A Mackereth
College Research Associate
Human, Social and Political Sciences (HSPS)
In her role as a postdoctoral researcher with the University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies and the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, she examines the relationship between gender and technology. In particular, she is interested in how artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies problematise our concept of what it means to be human, approaching this question from a feminist and anti-racist perspective. Her broad research interests include artificial intelligence, science fiction, posthumanism, gender theory, critical race theory, critical prison studies, and theories of political violence. She undertook her MPhil and doctorate degree in Multi-Disciplinary Gender Studies at the University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies, and completed her undergraduate degree in Human, Social, and Political Sciences at Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge.
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Clara Manco
Dr Clara Manco
French Lectrice
History and Modern Languages
French
I am the College French Lectrice, which means I give St John's students supervisions in French grammar, oral and audio-visual media, but you might see me teaching teaching Use of French at the Faculty as well. I am also a doctoral student, finishing a thesis at the Sorbonne on Restoration Comedy and its political interpretations. My research interests gravitate around the Restoration period (drama, poetry, history), but also more generally around the use of laughter as a political tool or the evolution and social role of stereotypes
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Hilary Martin
Dr Hilary C Martin
College Research Associate
Natural Science (Biological)
Genetics
Basis of common and rare genetic diseases; population and evolutionary genetics; using genetics to find new drug targets
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Lauren McHugh
Dr Lauren McHugh
College Research Associate
Natural Sciences (Physical)
Dr Lauren McHugh completed both her MChem (2010-2015) and PhD (2015-2019) in Chemistry at the University of St Andrews, where her PhD was completed under the supervision of Prof. Russell Morris FRS. Her research project was conducted in collaboration with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and focused on improving the water-stability, gas adsorption and processability of porous materials, such as metal-organic frameworks and activated carbons. During her PhD, Lauren showed that these materials could successfully be used in the purification of contaminated airstreams.

Lauren moved to the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy at the University of Cambridge in January 2020 as a Leverhulme Trust Postdoctoral Research Associate. Her current research is conducted under the supervision of Dr. Thomas Bennett and focuses on the synthesis and characterisation of non-crystalline and glassy metal-organic frameworks and hybrid ceramic materials.
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Dr Alex McLaughlin
Dr Alex McLaughlin
College Research Associate
Human, Social and Political Sciences (HSPS)
Political Philosophy
Alex’s research is in political philosophy, and he currently holds a British Academy Fellowship at the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk. He is interested in questions of global distributive justice, particularly in relation to climate change. His British Academy Project aims to provide a normative framework for thinking about claims to a scarce global carbon budget, taking into account both widespread noncompliance with obligations towards climate change mitigation and the existential risks associated with severe climate impacts. He is also interested in the ethics of political resistance and in debates about methodology in political theory and philosophy.
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Elizabeth Michael
Dr Elizabeth Michael
College Research Associate, Director of Studies in Psychology
Psychological and Behavioural Sciences (PBS)
Cognitive Neuroscience/Visual Perception
My research focuses on the brain-wide interactions that allow us to make difficult perceptual judgements, like discriminating between very similar objects, or finding a target in a cluttered environment.

It is often assumed that brain regions play a fixed or continuous role in perception, but an emerging view suggests that this is not the case - the role played by any given brain region is strongly influenced by our level of experience with a particular task. In my future research, I will study how the contribution of different brain regions to making these kinds of difficult judgement change as we become more experienced with the task. For example, when we are trying to detect a target in a cluttered environment, we might first heavily rely on brain regions that help us to ignore distracting information, until our visual system becomes robust enough to withstand this interference.
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ben-murton
Dr Ben L Murton
College Teaching Associate, External Director of Studies in Biochemistry
Medical Science
Biochemistry and Cell Biology/Learning and Development
My research career has been based around using biophysical methods to ask and answer the questions that other techniques could not address. I have worked on chromatin modification in cancer, innate immune system contributions to allergy and the regulation of T-cell activation. This diverse background is critical when teaching the broad first-year courses at St John’s.

I have long had an interest in teaching and learning and have been supervising for the college since 2003. I moved to work for the University’s Researcher Development Programme in 2015 and then to The Alan Turing Institute as Head of Researcher Development and Training in 2018. I am now able to combine training skills (especially communication skills and personal effectiveness) with work on the national strategy for data science and AI training.

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Dr Navid Nabijou
Dr Navid Nabijou
College Research Associate
Mathematics
Algebraic geometry
Dr Navid Nabijou is a pure mathematician, specialising in algebraic geometry. This means that he spends most of his time thinking about shapes which can be defined using polynomial equations. He is interested in studying the inherent properties of these shapes, in classifying them and understanding how they relate to one another. His research centres on Gromov-Witten invariants, which are "counts" of curves lying inside such shapes. Though intuitively appealing, these counts are extremely difficult to calculate, and have been a source of fascination for mathematicians since the 19th century. Over the past 30 years, deep connections to theoretical physics have been unearthed, leading to a revitalisation of the field and the discovery of many deep and unexpected results. The common theme in his work is the exploitation of hidden combinatorial structures inherent to parameter spaces of curves, in order to produce new computations and uncover new structures governing the Gromov-Witten invariants. This has required the development of novel combinatorial techniques for probing the geometry of these spaces. He grew up in London, obtaining his undergraduate and doctoral degrees from Imperial College. After that, he spent two years in Glasgow as a postdoctoral researcher, before moving to Cambridge in September 2020 as a Herchel Smith Fellow.
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Nangalia J
Dr Jyoti Nangalia
College Research Associate
Natural Science (Biological)
Cancer genomics
Jyoti Nangalia a CRUK funded clinician scientist and consultant haematologist with a passion for cancer genomics. During her PhD, she discovered mutations in the gene CALR in the vast majority of patients with a certain type of blood cancer, called the myeloproliferative neoplasms (Nangalia et al, NEJM, Dec 2013). Testing for CALR mutations in clinical practice to diagnose patients is now routine internationally. More recently, together with other researchers, she studied the DNA of over 2000 patients with these blood cancers to build an accurate online personalised predictor of outcome for patients by integrating clinical and genomic information (Grinfeld, Nangalia et al, NEJM 2018). This tool is being increasingly used by clinicians to assess the future outlook of their patients. She believes that using cancer genetics to support clinical decision-making is a critical application of new genetic sequencing technologies, and her future aspiration is to provide clinicians with patient personalised decision-making tools that incorporate clinical and genomic information across all blood cancers. Her research also focuses on using sequencing technologies to understand exactly when these blood cancers originate in patients during their lifetime and how this relates to normal blood cell development and ageing.
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Jonathon Nixon-Abell
Dr Jonathon Nixon-Abell
College Research Associate
Natural Science (Biological)
After completing a BSc in Neuroscience at University College London in 2012, Jonathon began his research career with a joint PhD program in the labs of Prof. Kirsten Harvey (UCL - SOP) and Dr. Craig Blackstone (National Institutes of Health - NINDS) where he studied the structural and functional alterations of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) in Parkinson’s disease. While at the National Institutes of Health, the focus of Jonathon's work shifted towards developing novel superresolution microscopy techniques to reveal never-before seen dynamic and structural features of subcellular organelles. Following the completion of his PhD in 2016, Jonathon was awarded an ORISE and HHMI visiting fellowship to undertake postdoctoral work in the lab of Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz (HHMI Janelia Research Campus), where his research continued to focus on the development of imaging technologies in order to study protein dynamics in the ER with single molecule resolution. As of September 2018, Jonathon has moved back to the UK as a back to the UK as a Sir Henry Wellcome Fellow in the lab of Peter St George-Hyslop (Cambridge - CIMR) where he is exploring mechanisms of protein recruitment to specific organelle subdomains in the context of health and neurodegenerative disease.

Jonathon can be contacted on jjn36@cam.ac.uk.
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Dr Jacob Olley
Dr Jacob Olley
College Research Associate
Music
Dr Jacob Olley is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the Faculty of Music. His current research project, ‘Debating Music in the Ottoman Press, 1876–1928’, focuses on discussions of music in Turkish-language periodicals during the final decades of the Ottoman Empire. The project seeks to understand how debates about music became a site for historical and social critique amongst Muslim intellectuals, and how they relate to broader global entanglements between Europe and Asia during the long 19th century. Before joining Cambridge, he was a research associate (2015–2020) on the digital publication project Corpus Musicae Ottomanicae: Critical Editions of Near Eastern Music Manuscripts, based at the University of Muenster in Germany. His PhD thesis (King’s College London, 2017) is a cultural history of notation systems in Ottoman music, focusing on the invention of modern Armenian (‘Hampartsum’) notation in the early 19th century. Before this, he did a BA and Masters in Ethnomusicology at SOAS. He has taught at King’s College London and the University of Kassel, as well as giving lectures and invited talks at various institutions. He has also spent extended periods in Istanbul, where he studied the Turkish language and the ney (reed flute).
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Carmen Olmedilla Herrero
Dr Carmen Olmedilla Herrero
College Teaching Associate, Director of Studies in Spanish , Acting Director of Studies in Portuguese
History and Modern Languages
Spanish; translation
I teach Spanish language and translation into Spanish in the Spanish and Portuguese Department, and I supervise on Spanish language, translation, Text and culture, and linguistics. My research focuses in translation.

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Dr Ruby Peters
Dr Ruby Peters
College Research Associate
Natural Science (Biological)

Super-resolution microscopy, mechanobiology, biophysics
After completing a PhD in Physics at King’s College London in 2019, Dr Ruby Peters joined the lab of Professor Ewa Paluch at the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience. Her doctoral research, whilst formally granted in the discipline of Physics, was highly interdisciplinary spanning the fields of cell biology, optics, computational biology and biophysics. She is a specialist in super-resolution microscopy: a family of closely related techniques that bypass the classical diffraction limit of light and allows for the visualisation of single molecules within cells. Specifically, during her PhD she developed a number of algorithms for the analysis of super-resolution datasets of the actin cytoskeleton during the human immune response. At the Paluch lab, she studies cell-shape control in the context of the nanoscale organisation and dynamics of the actomyosin cortex. Despite its importance, our understanding of cell-shape regulation remains limited, owing to the across-scales and across-disciplines nature of morphogenesis studies. By using state of the art microscopy and computational approaches, She aims to connect the nanoscale interactions that occur within the actomyosin cortex to the mechanical properties of the entire cell during fundamental cell-shape changes, thereby bridging the length scales gap from the nanoscopic to the microscopic.

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Dr Shannon Philip
Dr Shannon Philip
College Research Associate
Human, Social and Political Sciences (HSPS)
Social anthropology, sociology
Shannon is a sociologist and social anthropologist currently researching gender and urban transformations in post-apartheid South Africa. He is interested in the intersections of race, gender, sexualities, masculinities, class and development in the urban context of Johannesburg. Before coming to Cambridge, Shannon completed his PhD at the University of Oxford where he used a combination of longitudinal ethnographic methods and visual analysis to study urban youth, masculinities, gender, development and the policing of public bodies in neoliberal India. His post-doctoral research on South Africa builds and expands several themes of his doctoral research and looks at India and South Africa comparatively.
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Serena Povia
College Teaching Associate
Natural Sciences (Physical)
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Christopher Proctor
Dr Christopher Proctor
College Research Associate
Engineering
Electronic materials and devices
My research is focused on engineering devices and developing materials to enable a seamless connection between electronics and living tissue in order to address intractable disorders. On going project themes include:
Electrophoretic drug delivery: Targeted drug delivery can focus treatment on the region of the body affected by a given pathology thereby enhancing the effectiveness of the treatment while reducing side effects inherent in systemic treatments. Towards that end, we are leveraging the ion conductivity of polymers to develop implantable devices that can deliver drugs precisely when and where they are needed. We showed this to be a promising method for managing epileptic seizures. We are currently testing the efficacy of this approach for treating pathologies such as brain tumours and Parkinson’s disease.
Flexible devices for neural interfaces: We explore the application of organic electronic materials patterned onto flexible polymeric substrates in neural interfacing aiming to understand how the brain works and to develop new tools to address neurological disorders.
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Dr Motiar Rahaman
Dr Motiar Rahaman
College Research Associate
Natural Sciences (Physical)
Chemistry
Dr Motiar Rahaman obtained his B.Sc. (Bachelor of Science) with honours in Chemistry from Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India, and his M.Sc. (Master of Science) in Chemistry from Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai, India. He received a Swiss Government Excellence Scholarship (ESKAS) and moved to Switzerland for his Ph.D. in 2013. He obtained his PhD from University of Bern (Supervisor: Prof Peter Broekmann) in 2018 with Summa Cum Laude (final assessment: 6/6). The title of his PhD thesis was ‘Power to Value: Electrochemical Conversion of CO2 into Value-added Products’. He was then awarded a Swiss National Science Foundation Early Postdoc Mobility Fellowship (SNSF-EPM) and moved to the United Kingdom in 2019 to start his postdoctoral research at the Yusuf Hamied Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge (Supervisor: Prof Erwin Reisner). He also received a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual European Fellowship and currently, he is pursuing research in the Reisner Lab as a Marie-Curie fellow. His current research interests focus on photoelectrochemical (PEC) conversion of CO2 into multicarbon fuels using sunlight as well as combining some interesting substrate oxidation processes with solar-driven CO2 reduction which would direct us towards a sustainable and circular economy.
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Joao Rodrigues
Dr Joao Rodrigues
College Teaching Associate
Natural Sciences (Physical)
Physics - Arctic sea ice
After many years working in Quantum Chromodynamics, I changed my field of research to the very different topic of Arctic sea ice. I have processed submarine sonar records and satellite altimetry measurements in order to quantify and understand the recent changes in the thickness of the sea ice layer in the Arctic Ocean and their possible link to climate change. Currently I supervise several courses in the Maths and NST tripos.
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Rusterholz C
Dr Caroline Rusterholz
College Research Associate
History
My research interests include the fields of comparative gender history, historical demography and social history of medicine and sexuality. My current research project supported by the Wellcome Trust 'Youth, gender and teenage sexual counselling in Britain: The making of the Brook Advisory Centre, 1964-2000' uses the history of Brook Advisory Centres (BAC) as a case study through which to reassess the history of teenage sexuality and of the anxieties it caused in postwar Britain. From the first Centre opened in 1964 in London to the present, BAC has been an important provider of contraceptive advice and sexual counselling for unmarried people and teenagers. Although the centres have provoked fierce opposition and triggered recurrent public debates on teenage sexuality, little is known of their history. As a non-governmental organisation which however had clear connections with the Family Planning Association and the National Health Service, BAC provides an insightful locus to explore the way teenage sexuality was handled and debated publicly.

Beyond my interest in youth sexuality, I have published on the history of reproductive politics in Switzerland and on the role played by women doctors in the medicalization of birth control in twentieth century Britain and France.

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Dr Timothy Sadler
College Teaching Associate
Medical Science
Anatomy
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Jat Singh
Dr Jat Singh
College Research Associate
Computer Science

Security, privacy, transparency and accountability regarding ICT
Jat is an EPSRC Research Fellow working at the intersection of technology and law/regulation. Much of his work concerns issues of security, privacy, transparency and accountability regarding ICT. He leads the newly formed “Compliant and Accountable Systems” research group, which takes an interdisciplinary (tech-legal) approach to tackling issues of governance, control, agency, accountability and trust regarding emerging technology. Jat is also a Fellow at the Alan Turing Institute, the UK’s national centre for data science and AI, and co-chairs the Cambridge Trust & Technology Initiative (SRI), which drives research exploring the dynamics of trust and distrust in relation to internet technologies, society and power. He is also active in the tech-policy space, serving on advisory councils for the UK Government and Financial Conduct Authority.
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Paul Sweeney
Dr Paul Sweeney
College Research Associate
Mathematics

Mathematical Oncology
Low oxygenation, or hypoxia, is associated with cancer evolution, resistance to therapy and metastatic spread. Currently, the spatio-temporal relationship between vascular function and oxygen delivery in solid tumours is poorly understood, thereby hampering previous efforts to alleviate hypoxia or exploit it for therapeutic benefit. Paul’s research applies machine learning to photoacoustic imaging to facilitate the extraction of high-quality vascular features from living subjects. He applies the resulting data to advanced biophysical models which predict blood and interstitial flow, and transient oxygenation in whole tumours, in order to advance our fundamental knowledge of the mechanisms underpinning hypoxia fluctuations for improved therapeutic outcomes.

He is currently a Wellcome Trust Junior Interdisciplinary Fellow based in the Bohndiek Lab at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute. He received his doctorate in Applied Mathematics from University College London, where he also completed a MRes in Mathematical Modelling in Healthcare Engineering. He completed my MSc in Applied Mathematics at Imperial College London and received a BSc in Mathematics from the University of Southampton.
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Dr Sebastian Timmler
Dr Sebastian Timmler
College Research Associate
Natural Science (Biological)
Biochemistry
Dr Timmler is a neuroscientist with a background in biochemistry and molecular biology. His research focusses on myelin, the cellular structure that wraps around axons, the “cables” of the brain. He wants to understand how neuronal activity regulates myelin formation and how myelin influences the function of neuronal circuits. 

He studied biochemistry at the Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg and Christian-Albrechts-University Kiel in Germany, supported by a Cusanuswerk fellowship. During his PhD in the lab of Mikael Simons in Göttingen (Georg-August-University, MPI for Experimental Medicine) and Munich (Technical University, DZNE), he discovered that complexes of adhesion molecules cooperatively regulate myelin sheath growth. As a postdoc in the lab of Ragnhildur Thóra Káradóttir at the Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, he is now studying how neuronal activity changes patterns of membrane adhesion molecules to determine myelination. Recently, he secured generous funding through the Walter-Benjamin fellowship of the German Research Foundation (DFG). His main methods are light and electron microscopy, primary cell culture, optogenetics and proteomics. When he is not in the lab, he enjoys cycling through the English countryside, firing up the barbecue and gardening. You can follow him on twitter @MyelinScientist or researchgate.
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