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.
Dr Diarmuid Seosamh Ó'Maoiléidigh, University of Liverpool
Evolution, development, and mechanisms of floral organ photosynthesis
Diarmuid is a plant developmental biologist with interests in photosynthesis, functional genomics, and flower development. Currently, he is interested in understanding how non-leaf organs become established photosynthetic organs. Energy derived from the photosynthesis of floral organs is instrumental during fruit and seed development. However, our understanding of how these organs become photosynthetically active is vastly incomplete. To understand this process more clearly, a combination of comparative development, physiology, functional genomics, and gene-editing will be used. Diarmuid’s team will unravel the transcriptional mechanisms controlling photosynthesis in the fruits of model organisms, which may be conserved in crop plants such as oilseed rape. Using the knowledge created through these approaches, a better our understanding of flower development, floral evolution, and photosynthesis will be generated. In addition, novel strategies to improve crop performance will be formulated.
Dr Christopher Proctor, University of Cambridge
The microfluidic ion pump: a new tool for understanding the brain
Christopher is a bioengineer in the Engineering Department at the University of Cambridge. The aim of his BBSRC fellowship is to develop tools to help understand the brain. Our ability to understand our most complex organ is currently constrained by the absence of minimally invasive tools for controlled chemical delivery in the brain. Christopher proposes a new solution to this problem: a tiny implant with neuron-like features that neuroscientists can use to safely deliver a wide range of chemicals in the brain with precise control of when, where, and how much chemical is delivered. The realization of this tool will enable new discoveries concerning how the brain works and what we can be done when it goes wrong. As chemical signalling is fundamental to all living systems from animals to plants to bacteria, these same research tools may eventually be adapted to other systems to enable fundamental discoveries impacting all manners of life from agriculture to healthcare.
Dr Elizabeth Williams, University of Exeter
Unravelling the neuroendocrine signalling pathways guiding the developmental transition of marine invertebrate larval settlement
After spending some time in the plankton, the larvae of many marine invertebrates have to settle down to the ocean floor and find an ideal location to undergo metamorphosis into their adult form. This process is guided by a combination of external cues from the environment and internal neuroendocrine signalling. Elizabeth’s research aims to establish the network of molecular and cellular signalling that takes place when larvae are induced to settle by specific environmental cues. Using molecular biology, genetics and neuronal activity imaging, Elizabeth will explore the conservation of neuroendocrine signalling pathways deployed at larval settlement in different invertebrates, such as worms, shellfish and crustaceans. This research will provide insights into improving marine invertebrate aquaculture productivity, developing novel antifouling strategies, and the protection and restoration of key marine habitats.