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Clockwise from top left: Aashika Sekar, Andrew Shelton, Catriona Rooney, Konstantinos Klaourakis, Maria Claudia Caiazza, Paola Vargas Gutierrez, with Ujang Purnama in the centre

Where did you study before DPAG?

Aashika: I completed my Bachelors and Masters in Biochemical Engineering and Biotechnology at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT-D) in India.

Andrew: I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Washington, Seattle in 2015 where I studied human psychophysics and mechanisms of cellular cytokinesis. From 2016-2018, I worked at the Allen Institute for Brain Science where I studied the affects of claustrum perturbation on perception and decision making in mice.

Catriona: Before arriving in Oxford, I graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Physics from the University of St Andrews. I then spent the first year of my DPhil at a Biomedical Imaging CDT. 

Konstantinos: I studied Biology at the University of Crete in Greece where I completed my undergraduate studies from 2012 to 2016. In 2015, I was awarded the Amgen Scholarship and conducted my research internship in Professor Peter Fraser’s laboratory at the University of Cambridge.

Maria: I obtained a BSc in Biotechnology and a MSc in Neuroscience from the University of Pisa. In Pisa, I worked in the Di Primio lab focusing on Tau pathology. Parallel to this I also studied Biological Sciences at Scuola Normale Superiore.

Paola: I obtained my BSc in Genomic Sciences from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in 2015. In 2016 I did my MSc in Neuroscience in King’s College London before coming to DPAG. 

Ujang: I studied at Bandung Institute of Technology, Indonesia  for my undergraduate degree and professional pharmacist degree.

What are you doing now?

Aashika: I am currently pursuing my DPhil in the Wilson Lab. I am studying the regulation and functions of steroid receptor activity in prostate-like secondary cells of the Drosophila accessory gland.This work involves a combination of fly genetics, microdissection, high resolution fluorescence imaging and analysis of transcriptional targets. To date, my work suggests remarkable parallels between regulatory processes in fly and human prostate cells, which appear to be relevant to prostate cancer progression.

Andrew: I am currently studying the electrophysiological, morpholgical, and transcriptomic properties of cells in the claustrum with Dr. Adam Packer. We hope to uncover the organizing principles of claustrum cellular architechture and understand how this may relate to the unique connectivity of this nucleus.

Catriona: I am now part of the Tyler Group where I am researching the use of hyperpolarised silicon nanoparticles as novel MRI probes.

Konstantinos: In 2017, I started my DPhil funded by The Wellcome Trust at the University of Oxford. After the first year when I rotated in three laboratories, I started my DPhil project at Professor Paul Riley’s lab. I am currently investigating the role of cardiac lymphatic vessels in the neonatal mouse heart regeneration.

Maria: I am a second year DPhil student in Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics from Christ Church College. Currently, work in the Wade-Martins laboratory where I focus on unveiling the molecular and cellular mechanisms of Parkinson’s disease (PD) employing iPSC-derived dopaminergic neurons. 

Paola: I am doing my DPhil in DPAG under the supervision of Prof. Scott Waddell. My research focuses on understanding the neural networks involved in memory formation in the fly’s brain. 

Ujang: I am doing a DPhil under the supervision of Prof Carolyn Carr. My project is studying metabolic diseases as well as drug discovery using a 3D culture of induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) in engineered heart tissue.

What do you like about DPAG?

Aashika: The department provides a very friendly and supportive environment to pursue science.

Andrew: My lab space is shared my two other labs, those of Dr. Simon Butt and Dr. Armin Lak. I've come to enjoy the diversity of ideas in this space and have found the camaraderie and community created here to be inspiring.

Catriona: During a rotation project here as part of my first year I noticed how friendly everyone was. This was a big part of my decision to stay here for the rest of my DPhil. 

Konstantinos: DPAG is a very diverse department, with people coming from different backgrounds. This makes it an ideal place for exchanging ideas and views on science and beyond. This makes the DPhil life in DPAG particularly interesting and rewarding.

Maria: As a Graduate Student Representative I take part in the monthly departmental meetings to bring up DPhil students' point of view. Moreover, I am involved in the arrangement of Happy Hours, a great opportunity to get in touch with other people of the graduate community in DPAG. 

Paola: I like the friendly and supportive atmosphere in DPAG. I like the diversity of lectures we can go to. In particular, I enjoy the CNCB and Cortex Club talks.

Ujang: I like DPAG because it has a friendly student community and it offers a lot of talks on interesting topics.