Get to know… your WRDTP reps – Karolina Pyrzanowska

Karolina did her undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences at the University of the West of England. In between her 2nd and 3rd year she spent 12 months working in a research laboratory at Virginia Commonwealth University in the USA, where she investigated an in vivo cleavage assay for a phage-related ribosomal cysteine protease. By the time she returned to the UK she was very keen to continue exploring the world of phages and so chose a 3rd year project characterising a giant Acinetobacter phage.

Read moreGet to know… your WRDTP reps – Karolina Pyrzanowska

Get to know… your WRDTP student reps – Victoria Hill


Victoria Hill is a 2nd year PhD student at the University of Sheffield in Tim Craggs lab – she is also one of your fantastic student reps! We had a Q&A with Victoria to get to know her a little better. See below for Victoria’s interview covering a range of topics from her hobbies to her PhD research and her experience of starting a PhD in the middle of a global pandemic, which many of you will be able to relate to!!

Read moreGet to know… your WRDTP student reps – Victoria Hill

Get to know … your WRDTP Comms Team: Rhianna Rowland

Hi, my name is Rhianna and I’m a 4th year PhD student at the University of York. I work at YSBL focussing on human lysosomal enzymes which breakdown various glycoconjugates within our bodies. Inherited deficiencies in these enzymes leads to range of metabolic diseases called lysosomal storage disorders. My project aims to structurally characterise these enzymes and aid in the development of chemical probes, inhibitors and chaperones for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. Coming from a Masters year in analytical chemistry, this project has been a real challenge. Working with membrane-associated proteins, delving into insect-baculoviral expression systems and the dark art of protein crystallography has all been new to me, but I chose this project because I felt it would allow me to explore protein chemistry/structural biology with real-life applications in human health and disease.

Why did you join the DTP Communications team?

I enjoy scientific writing and saw this as a great opportunity to improve my writing skills whilst further engaging with the White Rose DTP and its students. I hope to learn more about the exceptional research conducted by White Rose students and to share/showcase this with other students in the DTP through blogs and the use of social media. I also see this is a chance to share non-scientific content which I hope students (including myself!) will find helpful in coping with PhD life and maintaining a healthy wellbeing.

Read moreGet to know … your WRDTP Comms Team: Rhianna Rowland

Get to know… your WRDTP student reps: Alex Scott

It’s time to meet our second rep from the University of York – Alex Scott. He also did his undergraduate degree in York – however, that was an integrated masters in physics, not biology! With only 10 weeks of wet lab experience before starting his PhD, every day has come with new challenges and an awful lot of learning.

Alex Scott

Alex has just now, in October, entered third year – how time flies!

Get to know… your WRDTP comms team – Rachel Greenhill

I’m Rachel, a PhD student at Sheffield and one of your 2020 comms committee members for the BBSRC White Rose DTP. I joined the committee primarily to help gain more experience in social media management and develop my writing skills but I have really enjoyed the insights I’ve gained into other people’s work and really enjoy highlighting all your achievements!

Rachel Greenhill

Prior to joining UoS, I worked for 5 years as a Genomics Scientist at Tun Abdul Razak Research Centre (TARRC), developing molecular markers for Hevea brasiliensis (natural rubber) clonal variety confirmation to aid in field misidentification in Malaysia. This role really highlighted to me the fundamental necessity for global crop improvement efforts to meet food security targets, and directed me down my career path.

The focus of my PhD project is primarily to look into what underpins the virulence of Striga asiatica, a parasitic plant which devastates cereal crop yields in Central and Eastern Africa. I’ve found my research focus in the crop improvement/food sustainability field, and is something I’m very passionate about!

Alongside working with plants in my academic life, I also have an allotment which keeps me very busy on the weekends. I also enjoy running and somehow completed my 4th half marathon in the brilliant Sheffield half in 2019.

I’m looking forward to bringing lots of plant-focused content to the DTP blog, twitter and more in the future!

Get to know… your WRDTP Comms Team: Zoe Ingold

Hiya! My name is Zoe and I’m a new member of the comms team from York. I work across YSBL and CNAP studying C-C bond forming enzymes derived from plants. I’m using x-ray crystallography to determine their structures and trying to elucidate their mechanisms in order to modify them to use substrates of industrial importance. Long term this will hopefully lead to greener processes for fine chemicals production.

Why did you join the DTP comms team?

I’ve been doing SciComm since first year of undergrad when I volunteered at the RSC stand for the York Festival of Ideas however, due to corona, all in-person SciComm has been cancelled for the foreseeable future. I saw this time as a good opportunity to develop my writing skills, so I’ve been using twitter to post about the chemistry and cultural importance of a new plant each day (who doesn’t love plants!). Writing for the White Rose blog allows me to explore this in more depth as well as write about other areas of the PhD experience.

Tell us some non-work related things about you!

I love food! York has an amazing food scene and whenever some place new opens up I try to visit. During lockdown I’ve learned how to make pastel de nata from scratch and I’m trying to grow some of my own fruit and veg too. At the start of my PhD some of my friends took my bouldering and I’m really looking forward to the climbing gym re-opening. I also train horses and go out to explore the Yorkshire area whenever I can.

Get to know… your WRDTP Comms Team: Maria Nikolova

My name’s Maria Nikolova and I’m a second year PhD student at the University of Leeds. I am the Comms Team group lead and most of the Tweets you see will be from me. Who knew a lifetime of endless scrolling through social media and subsconsciously absorbing what content gets the most attention will be useful!

Maria Nikolova intro
Like Ioannis, I also prefer spending my holidays by the beach because of where I come from (in my case, that’s a city called Burgas in Bulgaria).

My research focuses on the structural and functional investigation of PACE transporters. They are a family of multidrug efflux pumps that can transport a number of biocides out of bacteria and facilitate resistance. I chose this project because protein biochemistry was my favourite part of the integrated masters I did at the University of York (I just need a post-doc in Sheffield to complete my White Rose collection) and I think antimicrobial resistance is the most urgent global health threat we are facing. I also wanted a challenging project and membrane proteins fit neatly into that category so I can’t complain when it’s hard now (although I still do). It has been a steep learning curve but a rewarding experience and I feel like I have already learned a lot. Now I just need my structure!

I have recently got into cycling as it’s such a great way to get active and explore the green spaces around my plain old terraced house (I have not enjoyed spending a lot of time indoors…) and I get some satisfaction out of getting there all on my own. I may have got a little too into tracking my rides on Strava… Just another social media obsession to add to my list. I also love meeting up with friends in my spare time and getting involved in science communication projects. It’s no surprise then that I’m involved in organising Pint of Science for the second year running as it combines two of my favourite activities! I joined the DTP Comms Team because I see great potential in using our social media and website to showcase and amplify all the great achievements of our students and also provide a platform for students to share what they’re passionate about. I’m also quite excited about connecting with and sharing ideas with our cohort so it’s been great fun for me really. I hope everyone enjoys our posts and our DMs and emails are always open for new suggestions!

Get to know… your WRDTP student reps: Evie Farnham

It’s time to introduce our first student rep from the University of York! Evie is currently in the second year of her PhD. She also did her undergraduate at York, with a year working in the agriculture industry in Gloucestershire. Her PhD allows her to combine her interests in crop protection, microbial evolution and genetics into one project. Evie thinks time has really flown by and she can’t believe she’s already halfway through her PhD!

Evie Farnham

Read on to find out how Evie’s interest in crop protection has evolved to bring her to her current project and what it entails, what she loves doing in her spare time and one of the misfortunes she’s had during a late night in the lab (don’t worry, it has a happy ending)!

Read moreGet to know… your WRDTP student reps: Evie Farnham

Get to know… your WRDTP Comms Team: Ioannis Tsagakis

Mandatory photo by my (fabric!) poster at #EESNoncoding 2019 in Heidelberg, Germany!

Hi there, my name is Ioannis and I am a 3rd year PhD student working across FBS and FMH on RNA Biology. More specifically, my project aims to understand how long non-protein coding RNAs can co-evolve with their protein binding partners across placental mammals with divergent early pregnancy events. To this end, I use biochemical pull-down methods and primary cell culture to identify the protein interactome of the XIST RNA in humans, cows and pigs.

Why did you join the DTP Communications team?

Joining the DTP Communications team made sense because I am interested in scientific communication and have realised social media provides a new platform to interact with wider networks of scientists. Being an active Twitter user, I frequently post cutting-edge scientific research, conference meeting opportunities as well as my thoughts about all things science. I am also keen to learn about all the latest research which makes me the person having a lot of questions in seminars (not always asking them though).

Enough about work, tell us something about you!

In my spare time, I like to play basketball, cook or explore new places in Leeds for food and/or music. It was clear from the beginning of my PhD, I was pro-pun and would get every chance to come up with science-themed jokes (even if they weren’t that good – groan!). Being native Greek but having spent 10 years in the UK, I now more than ever prefer my holidays by a sandy beach over a mountain hike. A saying that has stuck with me is that…

“There is no such thing as I can’t do, there is only I don’t want to”.

Get to know.. your WRDTP student reps – Sarah Gratton

Our next WRDTP student rep profile is here.. This week we are introducing you to Sarah Gratton, a long-standing DTP rep with a passion for wildlife conservation!

Sarah Gratton

Sarah joined the DTP in 2017 coming from Durham University. Based at the University of Sheffield, she continues to pursue challenging work within the field of microscopy with a couple of papers already under her belt. Sarah wants to tell the wider world that PhD students matter and wants to chat to YOU if you’re interested in becoming a rep too!

Check out our question and answer session in full!

Read moreGet to know.. your WRDTP student reps – Sarah Gratton

Get to know… your WRDTP student reps: Roz Latham

Rosalind Latham

First in our new blog series ‘Get to know… your WRDTP student reps’ is Rosalind Latham! Roz did her BSc in Biology at the University of York, with a year in Industry in Pharmaceutical research. Highlights of her degree were learning about biotechnology and how to genetically engineer plants/microbes for human benefit.

After gaining industrial experience in a Fast-Moving-Consumer-Goods Graduate Scheme, Roz decided to go back to science and plant biotechnology, which she specialised in as an undergraduate. She’s now 8 months into her PhD and loving it!

We asked Roz a few more questions about her life in and outside of the lab – keep reading to find out how DNA origami can help us get better crops, Roz’s favourite Yorkshire spots and what you should (not) do when growing archaea!

Read moreGet to know… your WRDTP student reps: Roz Latham

Lewis White – Student Rep

Being a DTP Student Rep can provide much fun and valuable skills development.  Read Lewis White’s journey here:

Lewis began his PhD in 2016.  Supported by his supervisor, Dr Kanchon Dasmahapatra of The University of York, Lewis is researching: Life in extreme environments: adaptation and evolution of African soda lake fishes. 

He volunteered to take on the role of a Student Representative for the White Rose BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) in his first year and enjoyed the role so much that he plans to continue the role into his fourth and final year, from October 2019.  His contribution to the work of the DTP has proved invaluable.  In particular, planning and running an annual Symposium for just under 300 PhD students across the partnership is a huge responsibility that has been capably handled by Lewis, leading the current team of Student Reps (five reps in total).  This has had the advantage of ensuring the Symposium is student-friendly, whilst retaining the highest academic standards.  The detailed project planning has been exemplary, with the added benefit of allowing the DTP Co-ordinator to have an oversight and freeing up her time for other DTP tasks.  The student feedback on DTP training courses presented to the Management Board has positively influenced the development of the training programme for the new academic year.  Lewis’s leadership skills, teamwork, communication skills, commitment and his enthusiastic approach are much appreciated by the DTP Management Board.

Read moreLewis White – Student Rep