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Montage portraits 2015

Heba Al-Siddiqi is an overseas graduate student in the third year of her DPhil. She is a graduate trainee and funded by Qatar Foundation.

Tobias Dovmark is a Danish Marie Curie funded student in the third year of his DPhil.

Laura McKillop is an English BBSRC Industrial Case student in the second year of her DPhil.

Michael Song is a Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship student in the second year of his DPhil.

Where did you study before DPAG?

Heba: I am a graduate trainee founded by Qatar Foundation since 2009. I completed a two year internship at the Department of Stem Cells and Regenerative Biology at Harvard University. My previous training focused on human inducible-pluripotent stem cells reprogramming and brown adipocytes differentiation under the supervision of Dr. Chad Cown. Also, I worked in Dr. Harald Ott laboratory on cardiomyocytes differentiation and organ decellularization.   

Tobias: I studied a bachelor and a masters degree in molecular biomedicine at the University of Copenhagen and spent one semester at the University of Miami. I did my masters thesis at the Unit for Cell Death and Metabolism at the Danish Cancer Society, where I focused on lysosomal cell death in cancer. Before starting my DPhil at Oxford I worked as a research assistant at the Danish Cancer Society for four months.

Laura: I studied Medical Sciences at the University of Leeds, with a specialist interest in neurophysiology. This course included a year in industry which I spent undertaking sleep research at Eli Lilly.

Michael: I completed my undergraduate degree at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. After my undergraduate degree, I joined the MSc Neuroscience programme at Oxford, and I have stayed on for a DPhil with DPAG.

What are you doing now?

Heba: I am in my second year of my DPhil in Prof. Kieran Clarke group and supervised by Dr. Carolyn Carr. My work focuses on studying the metabolism of human inducible-pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC) and hiPSC-derived cardiomyocytes. In addition, I am working on finding ways to mature the differentiated human cardiomyocytes via metabolic manipulation.

Tobias: I am a 3rd year Marie Curie DPhil student in the lab of Pawel Swietach and Richard Vaughan-Jones. My project focuses on biological mechanisms that cancer cells exploit to transport metabolites and acidic waste products from cells, in order to sustain their growth and acquire selective advantages over normal cells. I use 3-dimensional tissue-resembling tumour growths to spatio-temporally assess the physiological role of proteins involved in proton and metabolite transport, in order to determine their therapeutic potential.

Laura: I am currently in the first year of my four year BBSRC Industrial CASE studentship, supervised by Dr Vladyslav Vyazovskiy and Professor Dame Kay Davies at the University of Oxford and Dr Keith Wafford at Eli Lilly. The aim of my project is to investigate the neuronal basis of sleep and to establish cellular markers of preceding sleep/wake history and ageing. Understanding the mechanisms underlying sleep regulation will provide important insight into its physiological significance and better define therapeutic strategies towards treatment of primary and secondary sleep disorders.

Michael: I am a second year DPhil student under the supervision of Prof. Gero Miesenböck. My research focuses on the molecular mechanisms underlying sleep homeostasis in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. I am interested in understanding how the fly’s sleep history is registered in the brain what molecular signals modulate sleep when the demand for sleep is high. 

What do you like about DPAG?

Heba: What I like about DPAG is the support it provides to the students and the diversity of the Department.

Tobias: The Department has presented me to state-of-the-art techniques and cross-disciplinary approaches to understand biological questions at a very high level. The environment at DPAG is very collaborative, providing a strong base for exchange of ideas and techniques. The science in DPAG is driven by a pioneering spirit, which makes it both challenging and rewarding.  

Laura: There is a diverse range of research going on within DPAG, both basic and clinically relevant. We are surrounded by top experts in many fields - from functional genomics to cellular neuroscience, which opens up unique opportunities for collaboration. Our colleagues have always been responsive when we have needed help or advice. DPAG also has a strong support network specifically for graduate students, with each student having a supervisor(s), student doctoral training advisor and college advisor (associated with both college and DPAG).  

Michael: I sincerely appreciate the fact that DPAG, while being historically significant stemming from its long tradition of good science and landmark discoveries, still maintains a great degree of flexibility and open-mindedness. The interactions I have with fellow students, postdoctoral researchers, and faculty members are casual and friendly, and this encourages me to share my ideas with others. Moreover, as a neuroscientist, I am still amazed by the wide degree of neuroscientific branches that DPAG houses, and I thoroughly enjoy interacting with individuals from these different directions in our mutual quest to understand the brain.