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Dr Miranda Walker (neeWhitten)

Dr Miranda Walker (neeWhitten)

Senior Lecturer, Biomedical Sciences

Telephone number

+44 (0) 1792 606148

Research Links

Academic Office - 503
Fifth Floor
Institute of Life Science 1
Singleton Campus
Available For Postgraduate Supervision

About

Dr Miranda Walker is a Senior Lecturer in the Institute of Life Science, Swansea University Medical School. She publishes all academic work under her maiden name: Miranda M. A. Whitten. 

Dr Walker trained in insect immunology and in medical entomology.  Her research goals are to improve health, livelihoods and food security by developing a safe technology to (i) prevent the spead of disease by insects, and (ii) control outbreaks of insect pests.  Miranda's work focuses primarily on insect-vectored neglected tropical diseases such as Chagas disease, and major agricultural pests such as thrips and the Cororado potato beetle.  Dr Walker is also interested in the parasites and microbes of insects in mass-rearing programmes, including those destined for human consumption.

Miranda is a Welsh Crucible alumnus and an elected life Fellow of The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. Her work is applied and inter-disciplinary, and she welcomes new collaborations.

Areas Of Expertise

  • Applied & Medical Entomology
  • RNA interference (RNAi)
  • Symbiosis
  • Microbiology
  • Parasitology
  • Insect Immunology
  • Pest Control & Agriculture
  • Molecular Biology

Career Highlights

Teaching Interests

Miranda is a Fellow of The Higher Education Academy and lectures on the Genetics, Biochemistry and Applied Medical Sciences degree programmes.  She teaches / coordinates teaching on a range of topics, most notably infectious diseases, parasitology and skills for geneticists (modules PM-004, PM-120, PM-250, PM304).  She supervises postgraduate student research project in insect RNA interference and parasitology.

 

Research

A technology called ‘Symbiont-Mediated RNAi’ (SMR) was pioneered at Swansea University by Dr Miranda Walker (née Whitten) and Prof Paul Dyson. SMR is based on the use of naturally-occurring symbiotic bacteria to silence insect genes from within an insect’s gut, with high precision and without the need for pesticides. SMR has hundreds of potential applications in research, pest control and in preventing the transmission of disease by insects. 

A short animation explaining the principles of SMR can be viewed on YouTube: Adapting friendly bacteria to control pest insects. 

Collaborations

Dr Walker and the Swansea SMR team collaborate with many researchers worldwide, including groups at the Oswaldo Cruz Institute in Brazil, the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and Liverpool University’s Tick Cell Biobank in the UK, Ghent University in Belgium, and Novosibirsk State Agrarian University in Russia. The work is supported by the BBSRC, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, TechAccel LLC, and the Russian Science Foundation.