I moved to Glasgow weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the UK with full force, and almost a year later, I still haven’t had the chance to explore a lot of what the city has to offer. However, I’m already taking full advantage of the proximity to the breath-taking Scottish scenery, accompanied by my husband and our dog, Igor. When I’m not in the lab, or trying to escape to the countryside, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, cooking and baking.
Prior to starting in the Perona lab, I was a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh. During my PhD, I helped to develope a new human pluripotent stem cell model of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Using this model, I was able to explore the effects of hepatic lipid accumulation (steatosis) on mitochondrial energy metabolism. During this project, I found that, in response to steatosis, the mitochondrial TCA cycle essentially breaks, leading to development of a metabolic shunt to overcome this breakage, enabling cells to maintain energy homeostasis. This love of metabolism was what drew me to the project in the Perona lab was the chance to explore energy metabolism in an even more complex system.
My postdoctoral project centres around TH2 immunity, and how it is regulated by infection-associated metabolic changes. I’m also interested in how helminth infection affects the metabolism of TfH cells in the lymph node germinal centres. One of the major challenges here is understanding cellular energy metabolism in vivo, as it changes with incredible speed when cells are removed from a tissue. Therefore, we are working to incorporate new technologies in the lab to overcome this challenge.
In addition to my interests within the lab, I founded an organisation, The STEM Village, which aims to increase visibility of the LGBTQ+ community working in or studying STEM topics (@theSTEMVillage on Twitter). I am a very strong believer that there should be equity in the workplace, with no individual made to feel as if they are not the “right sort of person” to work in an academic environment. As part of this initiative, we recently hosted a global symposium, which was endorsed by the Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and the 1990s music legend, MC Hammer! We also have an ongoing immunology seminar series, where we showcase the research of LGBTQ+ immunologists to the wider immunology society.