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PEOPLE

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TIM BLOWER

Professor

Tim did his undergraduate degrees and PhD at Cambridge University, supervised by Prof George Salmond, winning the Sir Howard Dalton Young Microbiologist of the Year Award in 2009 (Microbiology Society) and the Nat L. Sternberg Thesis Prize in 2011 (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories, Phage Meeting). He then obtained an EMBO Long-Term Fellowship to join Prof James Berger's lab at the University of California-Berkeley before moving across to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Arriving at Durham University in 2015, Tim won a Springboard Award in 2017 (Academy of Medical Sciences) and a Lister Institute Prize Fellowship in 2019 (Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine). He was made an Associate Professor in 2019, and a Full Professor in 2022.

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SAM WENT

Post-doctoral Research Assistant

Sam has joined the BBSRC sLoLa team investigating interactions between phage defence systems. Sam was a MoSMed funded PhD student. He graduated in Biotechnology at Northumbria University and then completed an MSc in Industrial and Commercial Biotechnology at Newcastle University, where he was part of the 2018 Newcastle team which took part in the international IGEM competition in Boston, USA. He then took up a research position in industry at CPI working on cell-free expression systems before joining the Blower lab to study the BREX bacteriophage-resistance system. Having come from industry, Sam is still getting used to not being able to spend loads of money on whatever equipment he needs.

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MARIA PUIU

Post-doctoral Research Assistant

Maria joined the lab as a post-doc investigating the BREX phage defence system. Maria previously obtained an MRes in Molecular Microbiology (2018) followed by a PhD (2022) from Newcastle University. Maria's PhD focused on structure-function studies of RNA polymerase in cyanobacteria and the effect of phage infection in Mycobacterium smegmatis transcription apparatus. After her PhD Maria took on a research role in industry for 1.5 years working on biochemical assay development for characterising the mode of action and potency of various classes of herbicides. Now back in academia Maria is excited to contribute to solving the mechanism of BREX phage defence. Outside work I enjoy running, swimming, hiking and baking.

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LIAM SHAW

Visiting Fellow

Liam is a computational biologist and is currently a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow also affiliated with the University of Oxford. His research uses genomic data to explore the evolution of mobile genetic elements, with application to the spread of antibiotic resistance genes. In particular, he is interested in the changes that elements undergo over time as they spread between different bacteria and their interplay with bacterial defence systems.

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JENNY READSHAW

PhD Student

Jenny is a first-year PhD student funded by the BBSRC Newcastle-Liverpool-Durham Doctoral Training Partnership. Jenny graduated from Durham University in 2021 with an MBiol in Bioscience, then worked for a year as an intermediate technician developing spider venom toxin-based biopesticides. Working in collaboration with New England Biolabs, Jenny's project aims to characterise the highly promiscuous type IV restriction enzyme involved in bacterial phage defence, BrxU. Jenny will also explore the biotechnological potential of BrxU, with a focus on mapping epigenetic modifications during disease development.

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MATTHEW GROBBELAAR

PhD Student

Matthew is a PhD student funded by MoSMed. He graduated from Stellenbosch University in South Africa in 2019 with a BSc in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology and in 2020 with a BSc Honours degree in Microbiology. He then spent a year furthering his honours research by characterising a novel mosquitocidal compound and two years working closely with a medical consulting company. Matthew’s PhD project focuses on synthesising antimicrobials derived from the natural toxins of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. This project aims to generate atomic resolution models of toxin activity, so we can synthesise antimicrobial mimics for treating infections. Matthew’s hobbies include running, cooking and painting South Africa in a good light abroad.

CO-SUPERVISED STUDENTS

Léo Debaene (2022-) Hinton Lab, Liverpool University

Andrew Higginson (2022-) Palmer Lab, Newcastle University

Rachel Ridgway (2022-) Evans Lab, Liverpool University

Tanya Horne (2020-) Hall Lab, Liverpool University

 

BLOWER LAB ALUMNI

Myriam Belmahi - Visiting MSc student (2024)

Izaak Beck - MSc by Research and PhD student (2017-2023)

Abbie Kelly - PDRA (2020-2023)

Sam Duffner - MSc by Research student (2021-2023)

Sophia Valabhji - BSc student (2022-23)

Megan Guest - BSc student (2022-23)

Ethan Slevin - BSc student (2022-23)

Becky Bennett - Co-supervised PhD student (2018-22, Baker Lab, Liverpool University)

Elise Ling - Co-supervised PhD student (2018-22, Austin Lab, Newcastle University)

David Picton - PhD student and PDRA (2016-22)

Julia Gordeeva - Visiting PhD student (2022)

Alena Drobiazko - Visiting PhD student (2022)

András Dervenkár - NatSci student (2021-22)

Ben Usher - PhD student (2017-21)

Ben Baker - NatSci student (2020-21)

Daniel Sin - BSc student (2020-21)

Anna Bailey - MBiol student (2019-20)

Shannon Richardson - NatSci student (2019-20)

Alex Cook - NatSci Student (2019-20)

Arran Hinch-Sisley - BSc student (2019-20)

Soufiane Taleb - MBiol student (2018-19)

Jonny Burnett - NatSci student (2018-19)

Katie Lister - BSc student (2018-19)

Josh Harling-Lee - MBiol student (2017-18)

Alex Kingdon - NatSci student (2017-18)

Charlotte Alton - BSc student (2017-18)

Ryan Herdman-Grant - BSc student (2017-18)

Lucy Henderson - Summer student (2017-18)

Julia Carleton - Summer student (2017)

Jacob Dykes - MBiol student (2016-17)

Sophie Forster - BSc student (2016-17)

George Aldridge - BSc student (2016-17)

Giorgio Bowler - BSc student (2015-16)

Alumni Photos

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