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David Phillips fellows

Interested in becoming a fellow? Go to the David Phillips Fellowships page (in Funding section).

For details of all current David Phillips fellows, please use the links below.

2018 cohort
2017 cohort
2016 cohort
2015 cohort
2014 cohort
2013 cohort
2012 cohort


2018 cohort

Dr Ryan MacDonald, University College London

Support for synapses: the role of cell adhesion molecules in glial morphogenesis

Ryan is a developmental neuroscientist in the Institute of Ophthalmology at University College London. The aim of his BBSRC fellowship is to understand how a healthy nervous system is built and maintained throughout life. The nervous system, which includes the brain and retina, contains specialised cells that carry out numerous support functions called glia. Glia have elaborate projections that enable them to make precise contacts with neurons and ensure their proper function. These close relationships break down with increasing age and may significantly contribute to disease. Ryan will use high resolution time-lapse microscopy, molecular biology and genetics in the zebrafish retina to determine cellular and molecular mechanisms controlling glial cell development. This research will allow us to better understand how glia and neurons establish their close relationship, with the ultimate goal of promoting the maintenance of these contacts to improve the healthy ageing of the nervous system.


Dr Patrick Moynihan, University of Birmingham

Peptidoglycan release and recycling in pathogenic mycobacteria

Most bacteria wrap themselves in a cell wall which protects them from a wide range of stresses. Textbooks often present this wall as a static, un-changing structure. This is completely false. To grow, divide and carry out metabolic operations the cell wall must be dynamic and plastic. This is true of all walled bacteria but represents a unique challenge to Mycobacterium tuberculosis which has a complex cell wall. The peptidoglycan (PG) layer of the mycobacterial cell wall is essential for its survival and is known to be heavily modified during growth. This process generates a diverse array of small molecules including fragments of PG, which are important for immune stimulation and we have recently shown are recycled by the bacterium. As a BBSRC David Phillips Fellow I will be determining the molecular basis for peptidoglycan synthesis, degradation and recycling in this important human pathogen.


Dr Vivek Nityananda, Newcastle University

Attention-like processes in insects: applications to pollinator biology and health

Vivek is a neuroethologist working at Newcastle University to discover the sensory and cognitive solutions of insects. Insect brains are orders of magnitude smaller than primate brains. Yet they solve several of the same visual problems that primates do - often with smart efficient solutions. One of the most important of these problems is that of selective attention - choosing one target and ignoring the distractors, something that is vital for foraging or avoiding predators. Vivek’s project will investigate how insects manage to do so by combining insights from neuroscience, psychology and ecology. The research will also investigate the role these attention-like processes play in pollination and in particular how pesticides might affect the sensory systems of pollinators. The aims are thus to further advance the rapid recent progress of research into insect visual processing and enhance our understanding of the effect of pesticides on pollinator health.


Dr Sharon Zytynska, University of Liverpool

Unravelling beneficial multi-species interactions in a cereal crop system

Sharon is an evolutionary ecologist who works to understand how the growth of crop plants can be influenced by the different species that exist in agroecosystems. Currently we are tackling the global problem of sustainably feeding a growing population. Sharon’s research investigates how we can use beneficial soil bacteria and earthworms to increase plant yield while simultaneously defending against insect pests - essentially using beneficial species interactions to mitigate the loss of yield we see when we reduce chemical pesticide and synthetic fertilizer inputs (for example in organic farming). Using a combination of greenhouse/field experiments and molecular analyses, she will characterise these interactions from the ‘genome to the field’. A fuller understanding of how beneficial species work together to improve plant health can lead to identification of important molecular pathways involved in biocontrol for future plant breeding, and provide advice for exploiting beneficial interactions in our agricultural systems..


2017 cohort

Dr Matthew Apps, University of Oxford

A Biological Framework of Reduced Physical and Social Activity across the Lifespan

Dr Marco Di Antonio, Imperial College London

Disrupting DNA G-quadruplex secondary structures to revert premature ageing

Dr Sebastian Eves-van den Akker, University of Cambridge

The regulation of plant-nematode parasitism

Dr Teresa Thurston, Imperial College London

Analysing antibacterial immunity from two sides: host versus pathogen

Dr Jenny Zhang, University of Cambridge

3D-Printed Platforms to Study and Utilise the Photoelectrochemistry of Photosynthetic Biofilms


2016 cohort

Dr Myriam Charpentier, John Innes Centre

Nuclear calcium regulation of plant development

Dr Alex Hayward, University of Exeter

Architects of genomic change: the evolutionary dynamics of transposable elements

Dr Glyn Hemsworth, University of Leeds

Discovery and Exploitation of Novel Lytic Polysaccharide Monooxygenase Redox Partners

Dr Aarti Jagannath, University of Oxford

Talking to the Clock: Understanding How The Molecular Circadian Clock Is Regulated By The Cellular Environment

Dr Johnathan Labbadia, University College London

Investigating the relationship between mitochondrial activity, programmed repression of the heat shock response, protein homeostasis and ageing

Dr Paula MacGregor, University of Cambridge

The molecular basis and evolution of host-parasite interactions in African trypanosomes

Dr Rogier Mars, University of Oxford

The comparative connectome

Dr Christine Schmidt, The University of Manchester

Ubiquitylation within and beyond the DNA damage response


2015 cohort

Dr Jessica Blair, University of Birmingham

Targeting periplasmic adaptor proteins to improve antibiotic efficacy

Dr Anthony Green, The University of Manchester

Designer enzymes with organocatalytic functionality

Dr Joanne Konkel, The University of Manchester

Oral barrier immuno-surviellance; alterations across the life-course

Dr Marc van der Kamp, University of Bristol

Multi-scale enzyme modelling for SynBio: optimizing biocatalysts for selective synthesis of bioactive compounds

Dr Katie Field (Translational Fellow), University of Leeds

Interactions between crops, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and atmospheric CO2


2014 cohort

Dr Franciska de Vries, The University of Manchester

The root to stability – the role of plant roots in ecosystem response to climate change

Dr Yiliang Ding, John Innes Centre

The role of RNA structures in plant response to temperature

Dr Xiaoqi Feng, John Innes Centre

Epigenetic regulation of sexual lineage development in plants

Dr Joe Swift, The University of Manchester

Response to mechanical stress in ageing tissue


2013 cohort

Dr Neil Dixon, The University of Manchester

Development and Application of Next Generation Synthetic Biology Tools

Dr Stuart Wigby, University of Oxford

Male ageing and the ejaculate: composition, competition and conflict


2012 cohort

Dr Claire Spottiswoode, University of Cambridge

Species interactions and the evolution of biological diversity: visual signalling in antagonistic and mutualistic coevolution