Postdoc Stories

Joanna Brunker

I am a physicist-turned-biologist working at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute. Having completed my PhD in Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering UCL, developing the instrumentation for a new technique called photoacoustic Doppler to measure blood flow, I am now looking to use photoacoustic imaging to study cancer biology. The goal of my Cambridge/Wellcome funded fellowship is to develop genetic reporters enabling pre-clinical photoacoustic imaging of tumour hypoxia.

My passion for science also extends beyond the laboratory.  I am active in various science communication activities involving school children and the general public; these include events organised by schemes such as Wellcome Trust Science Exhibitions, The Brilliant Club and Pint of Science, and I am also working with three other Hughes Hall PDRAs to deliver our own inspirational science outreach sessions for disadvantaged children in schools.

Thomas Reynolds


I am an engineer, and a research associate in the Centre for Natural Material Innovation, which brings together researchers in engineering, architecture, biochemistry, chemistry and fluid mechanics to better understand and use plant materials for construction. In my case, this means doing research on the structure of wood, bamboo and a small plant called Arabidopsis. I investigate how the arrangement of molecules in the cell wall allows the plant to support itself and respond to environmental conditions, and how we can make the best use of wood and bamboo in buildings, testing small plants and modern multi-storey wooden buildings.

Stephen Dolan

Many people with cystic fibrosis will develop a Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection during their lives which can lead to a chronic infection. This infection reduces lung function and therefore life expectancy. We are exploring how P. aeruginosa regulates the activation of key nutrient utilisation pathways which allow it to persist in the lung and resist antibiotic intervention. P. aeruginosa infection is difficult to treat as it displays an inherent resistance to many commonly used antibiotics. Understanding these essential metabolic branch points will allow is to develop new antimicrobials that specifically target this organism.

Charles Pigott


Charles is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the Centre of Latin American Studies. He specializes in the indigenous cultures and languages of Latin America, particularly the Maya and Quechua, and incorporates anthropology, linguistics, literature and philosophy in order to attain a holistic understanding of these societies. His current project, Ecological Visions in Mayan and Quechua Literature: A Comparative Study, compares Maya and Quechua literary production in terms of how the natural world is perceived, understood and engaged with, and constitutes the first comparative study of a Mesoamerican and Andean culture in their native languages.