I am a comparative immunologist engaged in research focussed on unravelling the biological mechanisms that enable invertebrates (e.g. crustaceans and insects) to combat pathogenic assault and survive environmental trauma. Current interests include:

  • The roles of oxygen transport/binding proteins in innate immunity (haemocyanin and phenoloxidase)
  • Health status indicators of commercially important shellfish pre-mortem (e.g. Limulus polyphemus), and food quality issues post-mortem (e.g. Nephrops norvegicus) 
  • Developing insect larvae (Galleria mellonella) as an alternative in vivo model system to reduce the need for murine and simian experimentation

I am also a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Areas of Expertise

  • Invertebrate immunology
  • Protein biochemistry: Haemocyanin and Phenoloxidase
  • Cellular Biology: Apoptosis and Phagocytosis
  • Horseshoe crab health/disease
  • Antimicrobial peptides and cryptides
  • Hyperpigmentation and commercial shellfish

Publications

  1. & The antagonistic effect of Banana bunchy top virus multifunctional protein B4 against Fusarium oxysporum. Molecular Plant Pathology 17(5), 669-679.
  2. & Entomopathogenic Fungi: New Insights into Host-Pathogen Interaction. Advances in Genetics 94, 307-364.
  3. & Immunological properties of Oxygen-Transport Proteins: Hemoglobin, Hemocyanin and Hemerythrin. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences 74, 293-317.
  4. & Physiological Condition, Short-Term Survival, and Predator Avoidance Behavior of Discarded Norway Lobsters (Nephrops norvegicus). Journal of Shellfish Research 35(4), 1053-1065.
  5. & Re-evaluation of insect melanogenesis research: Views from the dark side. Pigment Cell & Melanoma Research 30(4), 386-401.

See more...

Teaching

  • BIO104 Cellular & Microbial Biology

  • BIO340 Professional Laboratory Skills

    Professional Laboratory Skills is a module that provides students with the opportunity to gain practical experience of fundamental and advanced laboratory techniques in the broad area of biomolecular sciences. BIO340 consists of 4 intense laboratory sessions: two conducted in the wet-lab and two conducted in the computer lab. This blend of in vitro and in silico experimentation reflects the skills needed by modern biology graduates. Each session will have a theme: (1) protein biochemistry, (2) in silico structural manipulations, (3) PCR-techniques and gel electrophoresis, (4) Bioinformatics. Students will examine the structure-function relationship of a conserved, yet functionally diverse, family of proteins. Such proteins are found in plants, animals (including invertebrates) and microorganisms. [It should be noted that this module runs out of term time, in a similar manner to residential field courses]

Supervision

  • Sub-functionalisation of insect haemocyte populations when exposed to microbial and viral ligands (current)

    Student name:
    MRes
    Other supervisor: Prof Catherine Thornton
  • Determining the bioenergetic capacity of insect (Galleria mellonella) haemocytes (current)

    Student name:
    MRes
    Other supervisor: Prof Catherine Thornton
  • Interrogating the potential immune-modulating properties of Cordyceps sinensis (caterpillar mushroom) using the insect model, Galleria mellonella, for gut-related pathobiology (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Prof Tariq Butt
  • Untitled (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Prof Andrew Rowley

Administrative Responsibilities

  • Health and Safety Officer - Department of Biosciences, Swansea University

    2016 - Present

  • Deputy Biological Hazards Officer - Swansea University

    2016 - Present

  • Head of Laboratory - Comparative Immunology and Aquatic Pathobiology

    2015 - Present

  • Lead Academic - Royal Society of Biology Degree Accreditation

    2015 - 2017

Key Grants and Projects

Career History

Start Date End Date Position Held Location
January 2017 Present Senior Lecturer Swansea University
April 2015 December 2016 Lecturer Swansea University
February 2014 April 2015 PDRA, Molecular Microbiology University of Stirling

Collaborative Partners

Partner Name Description
Dr Amaya Albalat, University of Stirling (Scotland UK) https://www.stir.ac.uk/people/22473
Dr Wananit (May) Wimuttisuk, BIOTEC (Thailand) https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Wananit_Wimuttisuk
Dr Anastasia Komarova, Institut Pasteur (France) https://research.pasteur.fr/en/member/anastasia-komarova/
Dr Jenson Lim, University of Stirling (Scotland UK) https://www.stir.ac.uk/people/27463