GW4 Crucible brings together 30 talented future research leaders from different backgrounds and disciplines and develops each of them as a researcher and leader. Through a series of workshops, talks, and activities participants are given the opportunity to engage with a variety of research-related ideas. Participants will hear from and socialise with expert guest speakers from GW4 and beyond on each aspect of Crucible. In this way, their research can benefit from new approaches to impact and reach. Meet this year’s cohort:
Angela completed a BSc in Psychology and a PhD in Psychopharmacology at the University of Birmingham. After completing her PhD she took a research position in the School of Experimental Psychology at the University of Bristol, where she co-founded the Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group (TARG). She continues to work in this group as a Research Fellow and Lecturer. TARG works within the wider MRC-funded Integrative Epidemiology Unit, which investigates causal associations between health behaviours and health outcomes across the life course. Angela is a laboratory based scientist and her key areas include drug use (particularly alcohol and tobacco) and mental health (particularly anxiety). Her work explores the mechanisms underlying the relationships between health behaviours and health outcomes in order to inform intervention. Her recent areas of research include; using laboratory models of acute anxiety (7.5% carbon dioxide inhalation) to investigate emotional processing in anxiety, testing the effects of alcohol on risk behaviour and social cognition and exploring the potential of alcohol product labelling in health communication. Angela is a strong advocate of open science. She has been involved in large collaborative initiatives to investigate the reproducibility of published research and has written commentaries on her own open science practices.
Victoria is a Lecturer in Modern History at the University of Bristol. She completed her BA in History at the University of Nottingham, where she specialised in the histories of childhood and sexuality. After two years of teaching English as a Foreign Language in Bournemouth, Ireland and Japan, she returned to postgraduate study at the University of Exeter. She kept her research interest in age and sexuality, but moved further into the field of medical history during these years. The research conducted during her PhD resulted recently in her first monograph: Sexual Forensics in Victorian and Edwardian Britain (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016). Throughout her PhD and since, Victoria has also been interested in the ‘medical humanities’ more broadly including collaborating with medical educators, artists and interdisciplinary scholars. In Exeter she co-organised a seminar series and art exhibition, for example, which led to the co-edited collection Medicine, Health and the Arts: Approaches to the Medical Humanities (Routledge, 2014). This interest has formed the basis of her more recent research, which focuses on how the idea of ‘humanistic’ medicine developed in the 20th century – including in medical education, practice and design. She has worked with Southmead hospital in Bristol on walking tours and hospital ‘soundscapes’. She is also interested in how the arts operate as a communications tool in health, both historically and in the present day – she has worked extensively with cinemas, for example, in organising film screenings and discussions around health and other historical issues. Overall, she is keen to work in interdisciplinary and public-facing work around medicine, health and the arts.
Dr Matteo Bonotti, Cardiff University
After obtaining a Laurea in philosophy at the Sapienza University of Rome, Matteo went on to complete an MSc in International and European Politics and a PhD in Politics at the University of Edinburgh. He is now working as a Lecturer in Political Theory at the School of Law and Politics at Cardiff University, having previously taught at Queen’s University Belfast, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Stirling, and the University of the West of Scotland. Matteo’s research is concerned with ethical pluralism and cultural diversity in contemporary societies, and the question of how the state should respond to it. At present, he is focusing on the normative issues that arise when states have to design health-promoting food policies in a way that is respectful of the diverse understandings of health and the different eating practices that characterize contemporary multicultural societies. Matteo is very keen to engage in interdisciplinary research, to participate in collaborative projects, and to explore ways in which political theory can have an impact on the real world.
Melanie is currently a Research Fellow in the School of Social and Community Medicine at the University of Bristol. Specialising in mixed methods approaches, she designs and manages studies which seek to explore some of the most topical challenges in healthcare such as mental well-being, respiratory disease, behaviour change and emergency hospital admission. She has also been awarded Medical Research Council (MRC) funding to develop a cross-sector research partnership focusing on the clinical, social, community and commercial aspects of positive ageing.
Melanie holds a PhD in psychiatry from the University of Bristol, an MSc in research methods from the University of Surrey and a degree in law from the University of Leicester.
Jo obtained her BSc in Psychology at Nottingham Trent University before completing a multidisciplinary PhD in Psychology and Human-Computer-Interaction at the University of Nottingham. Her PhD focused on testing if self-control could be strengthened using smartphone technology, using ecological momentary assessment/intervention methods.
She then worked as postdoctoral research fellow at the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies (UKCTAS, University of Nottingham, Epidemiology & Public Health) leading research on adolescent exposure to smoking and alcohol in the media. Her recent research has focused on the behavioural effects of adolescent exposure to tobacco and alcohol in computer games and UK population exposure to similar content in YouTube music videos. Jo now works as Assistant Professor in Public Health at the University of Bath whilst continuing her research with UKCTAS. She is keen to develop her work to include junk food.
Rebecca is a medical sociologist at Cardiff University School of Social Sciences. Her research interests include patient experiences and the social implications of genetic technologies. She is currently funded by an ESRC Future Research Leaders award to explore the development of a novel reproductive technology known as mitochondrial donation. The techniques are controversial (involving the creation of “three parent babies”) and have just been legalised in the UK following extensive safety reviews and public consultations. Rebecca is a qualitative researcher, and her project involves interviewing patients, clinicians and stakeholders, and observing public meetings. Rebecca co-organises the Medicine, Science and Culture research group at Cardiff and is a volunteer proof reader for the journal Sociology of Health and Illness.
Jo obtained a BSc in Zoology (University of Wales, Swansea) and an MSc in Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare (University of Edinburgh) before going on to complete a PhD (University of Bristol) in which she studied maternal behaviour in domestic chickens. After working as a postdoc for 2.5 years, Jo began a BBSRC-funded Future Leader Fellowship to apply the study of fundamental maternal behaviour to develop tools that can be used to improve animal welfare. In domestic chickens, maternal care has strong and beneficial effects on chick behavioural development, but despite this, farmed domestic chickens are hatched and reared artificially. Jo is working to identify effective features of natural maternal care which can be artificially simulated in a commercial environment, working towards improved welfare and production for farmed laying hens. Additionally, Jo retains a broad interest in the study of emotion, cognition and social behaviour in domestic animals.
Des is a sociologist of science, interested in the social implications of the neurobiological and psychiatric sciences. He gained a BA at University College Cork in Ireland, and completed his graduate training at Cambridge University and the London School of Economics. He has been a lecturer in sociology at Cardiff University since September 2015. His research is focused on sites of intersection between ‘the social’ and ‘the biological’ (especially the neurobiological) – a topic he has explored substantively (he has a book forthcoming with the University of Washington Press, on the social and emotional world of autism neuroscience) and theoretically (he has co-authored a critical volume on interdisciplinarity across the social sciences and neurosciences). He is currently co-writing a book about urban neuroscience for Princeton University Press, and remains broadly interested in connections between the social and life sciences – where he is interested in exploring dangers as well as opportunities.
Eilis graduated with a degree in Mathematics in 2010 and went on to complete a PhD in the department of Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics at Cardiff University. As a student of both the School of Medicine and the School of Computer Science, she developed a knowledge of genetics (particularly that of psychiatric disorders), and bioinformatics skills when investigating spatial and temporal expression patterns of genes associated with schizophrenia. After completing her PhD, she joined the University of Exeter at the end of 2013 as a Bioinformatician and works across projects and phenotypes.
Agatha completed her PhD in Human Geography at the University of Exeter in 2010 and, following a series of short post-doctoral positions, held lectureships at Plymouth University and the University of Reading. In 2016 she moved to her current position as a lecturer in human geography at Cardiff University. She is also a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow (2014-17) with this research focusing on the capability of Fairtrade to promote resilient and capacity-building development within and beyond its producer communities. This involves extended overseas fieldwork to investigate the multi-scalar power relations and social practices involved in Fairtrade’s operations. More broadly she is interested in food ethics and politics, social resilience, experiences of transition and change, governance, practices and power.
Francoise obtained her MSc in Biochemistry and Microbiology at the University of Sofia (Bulgaria). She then went on to complete a PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology at the University of Grenoble 1 (France). After several postdoctoral positions she is now a Research Fellow in the Department for Health at the University of Bath. Her current research investigates the cellular mechanisms linking insulin resistance, obesity and chronic inflammation, ultimately leading to development of type 2 diabetes. She was recently awarded a New Investigator research grant from the MRC to investigate further this topic. Francoise is particularly interested in developing multidisciplinary projects related to the understanding and prevention of obesity and type 2 diabetes, two chronic conditions which are major burdens to the healthcare systems worldwide.
Glenda obtained her Masters in Clinical Psychology and Psychobiology at the University of Padova, Italy and went on to complete a PhD between the University of Siena, Italy and MIT, USA. She then became a psychotherapist in the UK and lectured Cognitive Psychology for the Open University. She held her first postdoctoral position in the Neurobehavioural Genetics Group at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia in Genova, focusing on sleep and cognition in murine models. She is now a Research Fellow at the School of Experimental Psychology, University of Bristol, and a postdoctoral scientist at the Clinical Discovery Unit, Early Clinical Development, AstraZeneca, in Cambridge. Her current focus is on smoking behaviour in humans; she is validating a genetic target to develop therapeutic strategies and she is planning experiments to explore causality in the relationship between a personality trait, locus of control, and tobacco consumption.
Hantao Liu received his PhD from the Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands, in 2011. He is currently an Assistant Professor with the School of Computer Science and Informatics, Cardiff University. His research interests include visual media quality assessment, visual attention modelling and applications, visual scene understanding, and medical image perception. He is currently serving for the IEEE MMTC, as the Chair of the Interest Group on Quality of Experience for Multimedia Communications, and he is an Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Human-Machine Systems.
Despina Moschou has an M. Eng. in Electrical and Computer Engineering and a PhD in Microelectronic Technology. Since 2010, her main research focus has been to apply her microfabrication and microelectronic device expertise in the development of disposable Lab-On-a-Chip systems for bioanalytical applications (molecular and immunoassay-based Point-of-Care diagnostic devices). For the past 6 years she has been pursuing the Lab-on-Printed Circuit Board approach, in an effort to realize disposable, mass-manufacturable Lab-on-Chip microsystems. Her interests also include inkjet printing technologies, adding further functionality to biomedical diagnostic systems. Despina Moschou accepted the 50th Anniversary Prize Fellowship in Bioelectronics in September 2016, within the Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering at the University of Bath.
Therese graduated with an Honours Degree in Genetics from Trinity College Dublin in 2005 and subsequently completed a Health Research Board PhD scholarship in Molecular Medicine in 2009. In 2010, Therese was awarded a Craig Dobbins Newman Postdoctoral Fellowship in Mental Health Research by University College Dublin based on her scientific proposal to examine how epigenetic mechanisms may contribute to suicide risk. In May 2013, Therese joined the Complex Disease Epigenetics Group in the University of Exeter as a Research Fellow investigating epigenetic changes in depression and other complex diseases. In September 2015, Therese was appointed Lecturer in the Complex Disease Epigenetics Group. She has successfully obtained a number of internationally competitive fellowships/grants and most recently was awarded a prestigious 2014 NARSAD Young Investigator Award ($65,000) by the Brain and Behaviour Research Foundation (USA).
Fabio obtained his degree in Biotechnology at the University of Bologna, Italy, and his PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. After a postdoctoral position in Seattle, USA, working on protein modelling and design, he is now a research fellow and group leader at the University of Bristol, within the Research Center for Synthetic Biology (BrisSynBio). His research focuses on custom design of proteins to study interactions of cells with their environment and how these interactions affect the decision making process of cells and ultimately their development and fate. At the same time Fabio develops new biological tools with low production and storage costs for broad applications in material science, diagnostics and therapeutics.
Hannah is a social scientist based at Cardiff University’s Sustainable Places Research Institute, a centre of inter-disciplinary research. Current work investigates community use of blue-greenspaces, its benefits and what prevents people accessing them. She completed her PhD and Masters at Cardiff’s School of Geography. She has several years’ experience as a policy and campaigns specialist for environmental NGOs, and continues to work closely with third sector organisations. She is committed to research involving communities which can directly benefit them, with a focus on use of shared public spaces and their role in the wellbeing of individuals and communities.
Richard obtained a BSc in Sport and Exercise Sciences (2005) and a Masters in Exercise Physiology (2006) from Loughborough University before spending two years as a Research Associate at the UCL Institute of Child Health, working on a strand of the Millennium Cohort Study examining physical activity patterns in UK children. After a brief spell in the private sector as a physiologist with Nuffield hospitals, Richard moved to the University of Exeter to undertake a PhD examining associations of sedentary behaviour and health, after which he was appointed Lecturer in Physical Activity and Health. Richard’s ongoing research interests focus on physical activity behaviours, their social and environmental determinants, their associations with health outcomes and issues surrounding their effective measurement. He is particularly interested in factors that determine the patterns in which physical activity is accumulated, and how this may influence health.
Karen graduated with a BSc in Applied Biology from the University of Bath in 1996 and then went on to complete her PhD within the laboratory of Prof Wolf Reik at the Babraham Institute, Cambridge, graduating from Cambridge University in 2000. Karen is now a senior postdoctoral research associate at the European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute, Cardiff University. Here Karen’s research utilises a number of clinically relevant, transgenic mouse models of cancer (principally intestinal and liver cancer) with the aim of clarifying or establishing some of the critical molecular events that contribute to the initiation, establishment and progression of cancer. As a passionate STEM ambassador, Karen has developed and delivered numerous outreach activities to communicate the principles and findings of her research.
Lauren has an MSci in Mathematics and Statistics from the University of St Andrews and a PhD in Medical Statistics from Newcastle University. Following her PhD she spent three years working in the Forensic Science Service developing models for the evaluation and analysis of crime scene DNA evidence. She returned to academia and is now a Research Fellow in Medical Statistics in the University of Exeter Medical School. Lauren has worked on a variety of projects related to quality of life and health research and is currently working on an MRC funded project modelling stratification in diabetes therapy using routine clinical data. This work will develop innovative methods to analyse big data from a clinical source and has potential for application in new areas and data sets. Lauren has an interest in statistical literacy and effective communication skills.
Peter obtained a BSc in Psychology at the University of York before specialising in exercise psychology with an MSc at Loughborough University and PhD at the University of Birmingham. Subsequently, Peter was a research fellow for a MRC funded multidisciplinary randomised control trial comparing two exercise interventions for rheumatoid arthritis patients. Recently he was awarded a Prize Fellowship at the University of Bath to pursue his research. Specifically, his research investigates theory grounded psychosocial and motivational processes that underpin the initiation and maintenance of physical activity. Frameworks such as Self-determination Theory are used to inform the development of multi-disciplinary interventions that support the preventive, treatment and wellbeing benefits of regular physical activity in clinical populations. User centred interventions aim to enhance patient outcomes, increase quality of care, encourage self-management and improve cost-effectiveness.
Victoria (Tori) obtained a BSc at the University of Bristol, before undertaking an MSc in Physiotherapy at King’s College, London. She worked as a clinical physiotherapist for eight years specialising in musculoskeletal rehabilitation. Before completing her PhD, Tori worked at the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy supporting physiotherapists in clinical practice and promoting the role of physiotherapists and allied health professionals. Her research focusses on development and implementation of interventions to facilitate participation and support maintenance of health enhancing behaviours. She is particularly interested in physical activity and therapeutic exercise to support self-management and improve healthy living for people with long term health conditions. Tori is now working as a research fellow at the University of Exeter Medical School. Tori is keen to explore innovative ideas beyond traditional health settings to tackle issues related to healthy living.
Diana is an Analytical Chemist with a PhD in Chemometrics. She ventured into Epidemiological research led by a strong interest in population health. In Metabolomics she found a fulfilling way of combining her skills from the three previous fields to address key research questions in relation to women’s reproductive and cardiometabolic health. Her work took her to Imperial College of London and she is now a Senior Research Associate at the University of Bristol in Metabolomics and Epidemiology. She has lived in three different countries, six different cities and is now based in Bristol, UK.
Lucy originally studied Philosophy (BA, University of Nottingham; MPhil, Birkbeck College, University of London), specialising in epistemology and philosophy of science. She then moved into social science research in end of life care, completing her PhD in Palliative Care at King’s College London in 2011. Lucy left London in December 2015 and now works as a Research Fellow at the University of Bristol, specialising in the integration of qualitative methods in trials. Her research focuses on staff-patient communication (particularly around end of life issues), the education and support of staff in this area, psychosocial and spiritual aspects of care, and patient empowerment. Lucy is keen to make a positive difference to patients, families and staff by influencing a diverse audience and conducting collaborative interdisciplinary research, especially with those working within the humanities and education.
Sarah obtained her BSc in Psychology from the University of Manchester and went on to complete an MSc in Health Psychology from Plymouth University some years later. Sarah joined the Centre for Academic Mental Health at the School of Social and Community Medicine in 2002 and completed her PhD in Psychiatric Epidemiology in 2012. Sarah has spent the majority of her research career investigating risk factors and outcomes of psychotic disorders. She specialises in complex statistical models in large datasets and in causal inference from observational data. She is particularly interested in the association between childhood social and language development and later mental health outcomes. She is also a co-Director of a Psychosis Health Integration team, which is a multi-disciplinary team of academics, clinicians, commissioners, patients and carers whose overall aim is to improve services for people with psychosis in Bristol.
Caroline obtained her BSc in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Surrey and went on to gain a PhD in trace element metabolism from Robert Gordon University whilst based at the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen. She then held postdoctoral research posts at the University of York and the University of Sheffield. After spending several years working in medical publishing, Caroline was awarded a Daphne Jackson Fellowship at the University of Bristol and now holds a Wellcome Trust Career Re-entry Fellowship. Her current research themes are focused on enabling children to have the very best start in life. These include: (1) exposures in pregnancy (environmental and nutritional) and child development – particularly lead, cadmium and mercury; (2) diet in early childhood – diets of picky eaters and effects on health outcomes, and diets of children in the Isle of Man.
Esther is a lecturer in Epidemiology of Primary Care Infectious Diseases, and joined the School of Social and Community Medicine and the Centre of Academic Primary Care (CAPC) in January 2015. She obtained her PhD from Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands (2006), and subsequently worked as an epidemiologist at University of Medical Centre Utrecht and University of Applied Sciences Leiden, before coming to Bristol. Her work to date relates to primary care, urology, quality of life, health promotion and alternative treatment to antibiotics. Her current research has a strong focus on 1) improving the use of antibiotics to reduce antimicrobial resistance and antibiotic consumption whilst maintaining symptom control in common primary care infection, and 2) the effect of antibiotics on the human microbiome and strategies to keep our good bugs happy and healthy.
Angharad completed her undergraduate Masters at Oxford University, where a project on stem cell migration led her to a PhD at the University of Manchester, examining the role of complex sugars in stem cell transplants for the treatment of inherited metabolic diseases. After completing her PhD, she worked with a small biotech company in Newcastle to develop a novel sugar-binding technology. After this, she refocused her research to the homing and migration of T cells in the immune system, with a particular emphasis on modifying the homing ability of transplanted T cells in tumour immunotherapy. She has been carrying out this research at Cardiff University since 2011. Alongside her research, she has taken an active role in public engagement, including developing a new interschool quiz for 14-15 year olds that has been taking place annually across Wales since 2013.
After completing undergraduate and Master’s degrees at Loughborough University, Oli joined Leicester University’s Department of Sociology in 2010. He graduated in July 2015 at which point he was already working at the University of Abertay Dundee as a Lecturer in Physical Activity and Public Health. He has since been successful in securing a NIHR CLAHRC West Dan Hill Fellowship in Health Equity and is now based at the University of Bath.
His research focuses on health inequalities. He engages with the disparity in opportunity and possibility presented to people throughout British society. He is particularly interested in the experiences of those living in deprived areas and is critical of the current conceptualisation of a ‘healthy lifestyle’ and its promotion as a set of individual choices. He is committed to using research for social change which promotes equitable outcomes.
Yu-Hsuan obtained his BSc at National Taiwan University, MSc at ETH Zurich and Dr. rer. nat. at Freie Universität Berlin/Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces. He went on to perform postdoctoral research at MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology before becoming a Lecturer in Cardiff University’s School of Chemistry in 2015. His most current research focuses on development of chemical biology tools to investigate cellular function of proteins. Yu-Hsuan is also keen to communicate and explore different approaches to disseminate scientific research to general public.