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Paying it forward

Hughes Hall’s senior membership provides a stepping stone – and social – for our next generation of early career researchers.

Hughes Hall’s postdoc community hosted a fantastic evening of drinks, food and fellowships advice last week (12th May 22).

Markus Höpfler, Research Convenor for the college, who put the event together, said: “Being an early career researcher in Cambridge is a privilege and as a community we have a responsibility to nurture the careers of those following in our footsteps. This was a change to extend an open invitation to all the PhD students and postdocs at Hughes so that they could find out what an academic career looks like, how to succeed at it, and crucially, how to go about securing funding for their research.”

We were delighted to host inspiring speakers to discuss the nuts and bolts of academic fellowship and grant applications, including an ERC starting grant as well as Marie Curie, Henry Wellcome, Fulbright and EMBO fellowships.

From left: Dr Markus Höpfler, Dr Matteo Zallio, Dr Marta Shahbazi, Dr Jorge Lopez-Tello

“Thank you to all our fantastic speakers and to all the engaged PhD students who came along to find out more. This time we had speakers from natural sciences and engineering, but we had a lot of requests for a similar event in the fields of arts, humanities and social sciences, so watch this space!” said Markus.


Dr Marta Shahbazi, Junior group leader MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology

Marta’s group is aiming to understand the molecular basis of human embryogenesis, and how the exquisite coordination between cell fate and shape is affected when development fails. She did her PhD at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre, working on how microtubules regulate cell-cell adhesion and stem cell identity in the epidermis. She then joined the University of Cambridge as a post-doctoral fellow to study mammalian embryo development at implantation and became a group leader at the MRC–LMB in 2020.

Dr Matteo Zallio, Research Associate

Matteo Zallio, M.Arch is an award-winning designer, researcher, and adjunct professor. He is currently a Marie Curie senior research fellow at the University of Cambridge and previously a Fulbright fellow at Stanford University and an A. Graves fellow at Technological University Dublin. His research focuses on the study and design of inclusive products and experiences for users of all abilities.

Dr Jorge Lopez-Tello, Research Associate

Jorge Lopez-Tello studied Veterinary Medicine in Spain and obtained his PhD from Complutense University of Madrid in 2017. He moved to Cambridge as a research associate to study placental development and fetal growth, supported by a Royal Society Newton Fellowship. His current work as a Sir Henry Wellcome Fellow at the Centre for Trophoblast Research (Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience) employs animal models to understand placental function and determine the impact of aberrant placental endocrine function on maternal metabolism during pregnancy as well as in offspring growth.

Dr Markus Höpfler, Research Associate (Host)

Markus Höpfler is a postdoctoral scientist at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology. Before moving to Cambridge, he studied molecular biology at the University of Vienna, Austria, and did his PhD research on cellular protein degradation systems at the Max Planck Institute in Martinsried, Germany. Markus is dedicated to understanding the molecular mechanisms used by cells to balance their resources and adapt to changing conditions. In particular, his work focuses on feedback mechanisms that act during protein production to maintain the correct ratio of different proteins within the cell.