Our Ambassadors

Our ambassadors are researchers who give up their time to help raise awareness and grow the community because they share the vision of a global research community. If you would like to represent your University or region then please get in touch.
Become an ambassador

Ken Dutton-Regester

 

Dr Ken Dutton-Regester is an active cancer researcher exploring new ways to treat late-stage melanoma. Completing his PhD at the Queensland University of Technology in 2012, Ken also did a postdoc at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Broad Institute in Boston, Massachusetts before pursuing an independent research program back in Australia. Ken is also the founding director of Excite Science, a scicomm start-up explaining complex science in creative ways. Their first product was Makings of a Malignancy, a cancer biology-themed escape room and has been exposed to 10,000+ people across Australia. Having served on a number of leadership bodies including the National Postdoctoral Association and the Associate Member Council for the American Association for Cancer Research, Ken founded Stemventurist as a community resource helping scientists in their careers, inside or outside of academia.

 

 

Helena Hartmann

 

 

Helena Hartmann's research is all about feeling other people's pain in your own brain, also known as empathy! She finished her Master of Science in Clinical and Biological Psychology in 2017, where she investigated empathic abilities and evidence for emotional egocentricity in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Directly after that, she started her PhD at the Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Unit led by Claus Lamm at the University of Vienna. In her dissertation, she is investigating why and how we understand and share the pain of other individuals around us. More specifically, Helena is interested what role our own pain processing plays in empathy for other people's suffering and the showing of prosocial behavior, specifically focusing on somatosensory pain processing in the human brain. She is enthusiastic about conducting transparent research through open science principles and loves transmitting her research to the public via science communication.

 

 

 Sofia Bariami

 

 

 

Sofia Bariami is a computational chemistry PhD student, at the University of Edinburgh. With a diverse background in applied mathematics and physics, and having experience working in a pharmaceutical company, she is using her expertise to develop and use theoretical models to understand small active molecules, that can be used as drugs (Computer Aided Drug Design). Her research focuses on two important aspects of computational chemistry: the development of forcefield parameters, focusing on host-guest systems that can be used as molecular carriers; and the modification of existing Molecular Dynamics frameworks using programming to incorporate new features, using as a test-case the HIV reverse-transcriptase. Apart from her research, she is part of the “Scientist next door” community, a group of scientists that share with children their passion for science, hoping more of them will find it as exciting. At her free time, she participates in public engagement activities, and she enjoys sketching. She is also always up for travelling and meeting new people.

 

 

Alexander Thom

 

 

Alexander (Ali) Thom is a 3rd year chemistry PhD student at the University of Glasgow. His initial research project focused on novel methods to alter the surface chemistry of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) for biomedical applications. MOFs are porous materials with a wide range of potential applications including use in biomedicine as well as gas storage for carbon capture and hydrogen storage and transport. His PhD focuses on synthesising and characterising novel MOFs for future use in gas storage applications. Apart from his research, Ali was the president of the University of Glasgow chemical society (aka Alchemists’ club) in 2018-19. In his spare time he volunteers with Glasgow City Mission at their main project in helping to combat homelessness in Glasgow as well as being involved in their winter night shelter. He is an avid rugby fan, even though that means being under the perpetual curse of being a passionate supporter of Scotland rugby.

 

 

Beth Eyre

 

Beth's PhD research at University of Sheffield investigates a mechanism called neurovascular coupling. When neurons in the brain fire, there should be a large increase in blood flow to that same region, to redeliver oxygen and glucose that have been used up, this relationship is termed neurovascular coupling. This relationship is really important because it ensures that cells in the brain get the oxygen and glucose they need to survive.

When she is not studying the brain, Beth likes to take part in public outreach and widening participation activities. She has recently become a Brilliant Club tutor, whereby she goes into schools and delivers university-style tutorials. The scheme is aimed at getting more young people from underrepresented backgrounds into highly selective universities- something that she is really passionate about because university should be for everyone and should not depend on your background. In her spare time you’ll most likely find her watching documentaries (about whales) or eating pizza.

 

Thiru Somasundaram

 

Thiru (Thiruchenduran Somasundaram) is a PhD researcher developing seaweed supplements for dairy cows in Australia under Deakin University Postgraduate Scholarship grants. Thiru is one of the past postharvest scientist at National Aquatic Resources Research and Development agency (NARA) in Sri Lanka. As one of the cruise “Food Safety and Nutrition-Scientist”, Thiru cruised with R/V Dr Fridjtof Nansen sampling Sri Lankan territorial waters. He has contributed in expert scientific panels for FAO’s EAF-Nansen Programme at Institute of Marine Research, Bergen and at FAO headquarters Rome.

He currently explores the potentials of seaweed as a supplement for dairy cattle in several platforms including, source of essential nutrients for cattle, natural way of fortifying milk and milk product and improving quality, mitigating health cow’s health issues like bloating and subacute rumen acidosis and reducing greenhouse gas emission through altering gut microbiota. Thiru believes networking is the most important quality of growing early career scientist.

 

Pauline Oustric

 

Pauline is a third-year PhD researcher at the University of Leeds. As an Engineer in Nutrition from AgroParisTech (Paris), her background covers multidisciplinary challenges in life science from the field (agriculture) to the fork (food science and nutrition). She then wanted to understand why we eat and created her PhD on food reward (our pleasure and motivation to eat) in weight management. Her PhD is investigating the biopsychology of food reward to improve weight management outcomes such as food intake in adult.

She is passionate about communication, cooking and coding. She is PGR-rep and Mental health & Wellbeing Champion at the School of Psychology and member of the Research & Scientific Advisory Committee for the Association of Study of Obesity (ASO). She loves organizing workshops and conferences for early career researchers and she delivers workshops on networking, communication, and data visualization. She aims at bringing people together to create a strong community of researchers.

 

 

 

Elpida Vounzoulaki

 

Elpida Vounzoulaki is a PhD Student in Diabetes Epidemiology at the University of Leicester, UK. Her research focuses on preventing type 2 diabetes in women who had gestational diabetes by understanding uptake to screening, progression rates and healthcare costs, using evidence synthesis methodologies.

Elpida has a strong interest in communicating science to the public and making it accessible. She is an active STEM Ambassador for the WISE campaign and STEM UK aiming to inspire young people to follow a career in science and research. Elpida also enjoys organising workshops and conferences for PhD students and early career researchers and is a Postgraduate Student Representative for Health Sciences for this academic year. In her spare time, she enjoys playing music and singing, while she is also a member of the Leicester University Theatre society.

 

 

Eleanor Sheekey

 

Eleanor Sheekey is a 1st year PhD student at the Cancer Research UK – Cambridge Institute (CRUK-CI). This follows from her MSci in Biochemistry achieved at Peterhouse, University of Cambridge. Her research interests lie in the most frequently mutated gene in cancer, TP53, which encodes the protein p53, and cellular senescence, a cell fate linked with both cancer and aging. When not in the lab, Eleanor is a keen runner and football player and sings soprano in her college chapel choir at Peterhouse. Moreover, she enjoys spending time creating videos for her YouTube Channel “The Sheekey Science Show”.

 

 

Becky Dewhurst

 

Becky graduated from the University of Sunderland, with a BSc in Biomedical Science. In 2019, Becky completed her Masters of Research (MRes) in Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine at Newcastle University, before starting her PhD in September 2019.
Currently Becky is a DiMeN DTP MRC funded PhD student studying in the Institute of Translational and Clinical Research in the Sayer-Miles group, Newcastle University. The group predominantly focuses on a collection of diseases known as ciliopathies which are conditions affecting the cilia, finger-like protrusions found on the surface of almost all our cells. Throughout Becky’s project she will be investigating how urine-derived patient specific cells can be used to develop disease models. Becky is also currently a member of the North East Postgraduate Conference’s organising committee for 2020.

 

 

Rebekah Penrice-Randal

 

Rebekah Penrice-Randal is a virology PhD student at the University of Liverpool. Rebekah has multidisciplinary background in international public health and physiology, and a long-term interest in how viruses effect the physiology of people and the impact disease can have on communities. Rebekah started her PhD looking at Ebolavirus and mutations within the viral RNA genome using reverse genetic systems and progressed onto working on Coronaviruses starting with a collaborative project on Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS) in Saudi Arabia. Strategies learnt within the team were then utilised during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, allowing the research team to study the viral genome and the microbiome of patients with COVID-19.

Rebekah is passionate about science communication and in March 2020 set up The Science Social to challenge misinformation and fake news being shared about the virus with Co-Founders Charlotte Blake and Lucia Livoti.

 

Tahira Anwar

 

After obtaining a Master of Science in biological sciences at the Sapienza University of Rome, Tahira moved to Finland where she joined the University of Helsinki to do a PhD in Biochemistry. During her PhD, she studied a process named autophagy, a cellular degradation self-eating pathway, important for many physiological processes and whose impairment is involved in many diseases. Presently, she is in the UK, having left academia after 12 years and is now working as a laboratory manager in a biotech company close to Cambridge.

Tahira's non-work related passions are mental health and wellbeing in academia. She has contributed with different written pieces for Voices of Academia and The Xylom. She was also a guest at the podcast 'What are YOU going to do with that?'

 

Zoe Zontou

 

Zoe is a first-generation postgraduate researcher and first year PhD at University of Southampton. She completed her BS in Space Physics at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and subsequently moved to Cardiff to complete my MSc in Astrophysics at Cardiff University. Space, astronomy, the universe, etc. have always been her passions in life, and havewanted to pursue a career in this field for as long as she can remember. Zoe's dream job — perhaps unsurprisingly — would be to become an astronaut either for NASA or the ESA. Her main interests and research focuses have been galaxy formation and evolution, cosmology (especially dark matter), the CMB, and supernovae.

Outside of research, she loves to devour endless cups of coffee and books as well as hike, dive, explore new places, and be outside as much as possible. Zoe also enjoys dabbling in a bit of amateur photography and is an avid phytophile. Ad astra per aspera!

 

Fabian van den Berg

 

Fabian van den Berg is a developmental cognitive neuroscience PhD researcher, after finishing a Bachelor’s and Research Master’s in cognitive and clinical psychology and neuroscience. With experience in scientific and clinical settings, his current research focuses on the acquisition of numerical symbols; how the brain connects the concept of “three things” to the symbol of “3.” This process is pretty difficult for kids, and it takes them almost two years to go from counting to ten to actually knowing what those words mean! The second part of Fabian’s research looks into culture-specific hands-patterns that might aid in number processing. We all have our way of showing a three, some use the thumb, index, and middle finger, but others use the index, middle, and ring finger instead. These special patterns affect the way our brain perceives quantities and accesses symbols in surprising ways.

When he is not busy with research, Fabian enjoys fitness, watching movies/series, playing games, and being vigilant of proper work-life balance!

 

Fernando García-Bastidas

 

Fernando is a scientist who has been working with important crops in the area of plant health for the last 15 years. First as coffee breeder for the  Coffee Breeding Program in Colombia, later on the pathosystem Fusarium- Banana at Wageningen University & Research. Currently, Fernando is finishing a PostDoc at KeyGene, a crop innovation research and technology company in Wageningen. His focus is on the development of resistant banana varieties, especially to Panama disease Tropical Race 4. 

 Fernando is a frequent speaker and consultant on Panama disease of banana and specialist in diagnosis of Tropical Race 4. Apart from his daily academic duties, he is also a digital content creator who enjoys taking photos, making vlogs frequently. Fernando uses these talents to do Fun Science Communication and is also the creator of the #bananatoons

 

 

Stina Börchers

 

Stina Börchers is a second year PhD student in neurosciences at the Sahlgrenska Academy of the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. She graduated with a B.Sc. in Biology and an M.Sc. in Neurosciences from the University of Bremen, Germany.  Her research focuses on the communication of the gut and the brain and how it influences eating behaviour and anxiety. Besides her life as a researcher, Stina has a strong passion for science communication, science art, and writing. She has been working on making science more accessible by using social media and her blog for scicomm since 2016. By educating about the science of disorders such as mental disorders and eating disorders she is hoping to help end the stigma revolving around these. As a first generation university student and academic it is also one of her goals to make academia more transparent.

When Stina is not creating content, you can find her somewhere exploring nature, taking care of her plants, or baking Swedish cinnamonrolls. Her favourite weapon in the lab is the multichannelpipette.

 

Emily Thomson

 

Emily is a registered mental health nurse and first year PhD student at Glasgow Caledonian University. She is researching the bio-psychosocial impact of incontinence, a highly prevalent, stigmatising, and costly condition, that is underreported and often self-managed without any health professional input. Through her research he wants to help to understand how we can improve healthcare seeking, and also to understand the environmental impact of the condition through the use of non-recyclable plastic based containment products which contribute considerably to the carbon footprint of hospitals, and care homes.

When Emily is not researching, she is a keen rock climber, yogi, and outdoor swimmer! She is looking to compete in her first triathlon this year! Emily is also passionate about getting nurses and healthcare professionals involved in research and raising awareness of the important role they can have in shaping healthcare outcomes through research.