Women in Science at St Andrews

Use the tabs to list the women working in different Schools.  Click on images or names for further details.

The School of Biology holds an Athena Swan Bronze Award.


Catherine was appointed as a Lecturer in Molecular Medicine at St Andrews in 2010. Catherine’s lab focuses on virology with a specific interest in antiviral drugs. Antiviral drugs can be used to combat important viral diseases that cause medical and economic burdens; in addition they can be used as valuable tools to address basic research questions in virology. Prior to her current position, she worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with Dr Eric Freed within the HIV Drug Resistance Program at the NIH, USA. During this time she performed internationally recognized work on the novel HIV-1 maturation inhibitor bevirimat and made significant contributions to understanding the drugs mechanism of action, acquisition of drug resistance and performance in phase II clinical trials. Before working in the US, Catherine performed postdoctoral work at the University of Reading and obtained both her PhD and BSc(Hons) degree in Biology from the University of Manchester. During her career Catherine has worked in collaboration with three biotech companies and has been awarded a NIH Federal Technology Transfer Award. Catherine has one dependent, a beautiful Golden Retriever called Moss.

research@st-andrews profile . email: csa21@st-andrews.ac.uk

Catherine runs the Biomedical Sciences Research Complex (BSRC) Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics Facility, and is based in the BMS Annexe. She has built the Facility up, through a succession of successful Wellcome Trust funded grant applications, from its original MALDI-TOF instrument in 1999 to the current multi-instrument Facility. The Facility works on a wide range of scientific problems, primarily for the BSRC researchers but also for other members of the University from the Schools of Biology, Chemistry, GeoSciences, Medicine and Physics and in collaboration with groups across the rest of the UK, Europe and the world. Catherine enjoys interacting with the significant number of PhD students, post-docs and principal investigators this entails to help design the right experiment to answer their scientific question and is delighted when mass spectrometry can give valuable insights into the science under investigation.

Catherine’s BSc degree was in Chemistry and her PhD in Bio-organic Chemistry. She moved to St Andrews part way through her PhD and has been so happy here she has never left! Her first post-doc was in vaccine development with Rick Randall. She was then awarded a Royal Society of Edinburgh/Caledonian Research Foundation Fellowship to work on Adenovirus DNA replication with Ron Hay, before setting up the Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics Facility.

Catherine’s husband, also a Chemistry lecturer at the University, died of kidney cancer in 2011 and Catherine discovered then just how amazingly supportive the School of Chemistry and the BSRC ‘families’ are.

At weekends Catherine likes to get out into the Scottish hills or to kayak and finds St Andrews a great base for these adventures.

research@st-andrews profile . email: cb2@st-andrews.ac.uk


Verena did her undergraduate degree and PhD at the Technical University of Braunschweig in Germany. Her PhD research, carried out in cooperation with the University of Bonn and the Institute of Avian Research “Vogelwarte Helgoland”, was in the field of Behavioural Ecology. She investigated extra-pair paternity and offspring sex ratio adjustment in coal tits, using a combination of fieldwork and molecular genetic techniques. Although she very much enjoyed research and produced a number of publications, Verena’s main interest has always been in science communication, teaching in particular. After her PhD, she moved to Cambridge with her husband, where she gained extensive teaching experience, providing tutorials and lectures for undergraduate students at the University of Cambridge as well as Anglia Ruskin University. She also did science writing, for a Cambridge-based website on convergent evolution (www.mapoflife.org) and freelance for two German ornithology journals to keep in touch with her field of research.

Verena joined the School of Biology in the University of St Andrews as a Teaching Fellow in November 2013. Her first role was to conduct a survey of the transferable skills taught across the Biology degrees, and she is now leading a working group to introduce some changes to this effect. Furthermore, she is developing her teaching portfolio and acting as Deputy Exams Officer.

research@st-andrews profile . email: vdb@st-andrews.ac.uk

Maria is a macroecologist, attempting to quantify patterns of change in biodiversity and understand their drivers. The tools of her trade are modelling, eco-informatics and field work (mostly on coral reefs). She was appointed as a MASTS Lecturer in 2012, although she moved to St Andrews in 2010 as a postdoc in Anne Magurran’s ERC project BIOTIME. Previously, Maria had been a Ciência 2008 fellow at the University of Aveiro in her home country, Portugal. She had also been a research fellow at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in Australia, and at the Scottish Oceans Institute in St Andrews. Maria finished her PhD at James Cook University in 2006, exactly one month before her first son was born. Her second son arrived half way through her second postdoctoral fellowship in 2009.

research@st-andrews profile . email: maadd@st-andrews.ac.uk

Wellcome Trust Research Fellow

Tracey is interested in the structure, function, and mechanism of eukaryotic carbohydrate processing enzymes. In particular her research focusses on understanding enzymes at the molecular level that play a role in disease, with the ultimate aim of gaining knowledge that will aid development of therapeutics in the future. Tracey completed her PhD at the University of York in 2006 and stayed there for a short post-doctoral position afterwards. The following year she won a Sir Henry Wellcome Post-doctoral Fellowship, where she spent the majority of her time in Vancouver, Canada. Tracey returned to the UK with a Wellcome Trust Research Career Development Fellowship in 2012, and has established her independent research group (currently consisting of a research technician and 2 PhD students) in St Andrews. In 2013, Tracey won the L’Oreal-UNESCO-Royal Society For Women In Science Fellowship.

research@st-andrews profile . email: tmg@st-andrews.ac.uk

Acting Director

As Acting Director Ailsa Hall is responsible for ensuring the delivery of SMRU’s statutory science funded by the Natural Environment Research Council and the Scottish Government.  This research and long term science is driven largely by UK and European legislative obligations and priority policy issues.  Her personal research interests are in the field of factors affecting survival in marine mammals, investigating the interactions between persistent organic pollutants, immune suppression and endocrine disruption in both seals and cetaceans.  She also studies basic physiology and nutritional condition and is emeritus member of the Unusual Mortality Marine Mammal Events Working Group in the US.

research@st-andrews profile . email: ajh7@st-andrews.ac.uk


Sue is interested in the role that adaptation has had on animal cognition, with especial interests in testing cognitive abilities of animals under field conditions and in determining relationships between behaviour and the brain. She and her research group are primarily working on cognition in hummingbirds and nest building in birds. Sue studied zoology and physiology at the University of Otago, New Zealand before she received her DPhil (1991) at the University of Oxford, UK. She was a Junior Research Fellow at Oxford (St John’s College, 1991-1993) before taking positions at the University of Newcastle (1993-1999), the University of Edinburgh (1999-2008), coming to a Readership at St Andrews in 2009. She has published >100 scientific publications and has edited a book Spatial Representation in Animals. She sits on the Council of the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB), serves on several editorial boards as well as on Committee E of BBSRC.

research@st-andrews profile . email: sdh11@st-andrews.ac.uk


Senior Teaching Fellow

Sonja is interested in conservation ecology and marine mammal biology. She has worked in marine-related jobs involving both research and science communication on all continents and is fluent in three languages. She undertook her Biology undergraduate studies at the University of Cologne (Germany) before gaining two postgraduate degrees (in Zoology and Marine Science) from the University of Otago in New Zealand. Sonja has been based in St Andrews since late 2001, first as a PhD student in the School of Biology (Sea Mammal Research Unit), then as research assistant (2006), assistant course director for the Masters in Marine Mammal Science (2007-2011) and for the last three years as course director for the same course as well as Biology’s postgraduate taught coordinator. As a Senior Teaching Fellow Sonja’s academic role is mostly focussed on teaching and developing courses at postgraduate level as well as supervising MSc students. However, her passion is marine conservation and applied ecology. For her PhD she founded and raised the funding for what is now a long-term research project (15 years!) on conservation ecology of small coastal cetaceans in southern Chile. Every year she spends several weeks down South training local students and supervising various field projects. She also runs two field course modules for St Andrews students (senior honours and Master’s level) where she takes students on a three week expedition to southern Argentina and Antarctica.

research@st-andrews profile . email: sh52@st-andrews.ac.uk


Sascha K. Hooker, Lecturer  in Biology (50% FTE), arrived in St Andrews as a post-doctoral fellow in 2001, held a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellowship 2003-2010, and was made a proleptic lecturer in 2004 just before the birth of her first child.  Her research interests are diverse, examining issues central to marine mammal ecology, but also applying these to questions of diving physiology and conservation planning. Flexible part-time work hours have been vital to Sascha remaining in academia, as she has additional caring responsibilities due to the disability and therapy needs for one of her three children.

research@st-andrews profile . email: sh43@st-andrews.ac.uk

Anne is an evolutionary ecologist investigating the measurement, evolution and conservation of biological diversity and has a particular interest in how ecological communities change through time. Her research combines fieldwork and experimental approaches with modeling and statistical analysis to pursue complementary questions that can be resolved through deeper knowledge of temporal turnover and evolution of community structure; it involves collaborations with researchers in five continents. Her university education was at the University of Ulster in Ireland, and she did postdocs in Wales (Bangor) and England (Oxford) before moving to St Andrews in Scotland.

Anne is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and was awarded the Beverton Medal of the Fisheries Society of the British Isles and an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Bergen. She is on the Board of Reviewing Editors for Science.

research@st-andrews profile . email: aem1@st-andrews.ac.uk

Jacqueline recently joined the School of Biology as a senior teaching fellow to contribute to the School’s MBiochem programme. In her previous role as a lecturer at the University of Stirling, Jacqueline’s research interests included type-3 copper proteins and the structure/function relationship of a number of central metabolic enzymes. Jacqueline gained her PhD at the University of Stirling and developed her research career via research fellowships at the University of Glasgow, University of Stirling and University of Edinburgh. Her last research fellowship was conducted on a part-time basis with the arrival of her first son. The arrival of Jacqueline’s second son coincided with the start of a short teaching fellowship at the University of Stirling, a role which developed into a lectureship.

As Chair of the Society of Biology (Scotland Branch) she is actively involved in engaging and encouraging public interest in the life sciences. Jacqueline also supports the activities of the University of St Andrews’ student members of the Society of Biology and the Biochemical Society.

research@st-andrews profile . email: jn37@st-andrews.ac.uk

Clare Peddie has been working for the University of St Andrews for the last 15 years.  She has performed a number of roles in the School of Biology and for the University of St Andrews over that time.  She started her career in Science as a mature undergraduate and then was a PhD student with family at St Andrews.  She moved onto a Post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Dundee and then to a similar post in St Andrews. Throughout her career she has changed disciplines from marine biology to haematology to cancer research to accommodate family priorities.  She became a Teaching Fellow for the School of Biology in 2001 and has progressed through promotions to Principal Teaching Fellow, taking up roles such as ProDean Undergraduate (Science), Director of Teaching for the School of Biology and currently works as the ProDean for Postgraduate Taught students whilst keeping up her teaching commitments in Biology.  Now her research and teaching interests encompass behaviours associated with cleaner stations on coral reefs, diving physiology, scientific diving techniques, the value of fieldwork in effective teaching and the development of employability through leadership and management experience in fieldwork and engagement in tutorials.

research@st-andrews profile . email: cmp@st-andrews.ac.uk


Rona was educated at Edinburgh and Cambridge, then awarded a national (Beit) fellowship, before moving to the USA in 1979. After progressing from post-doc to full professor over 16 years at University of California  San Francisco, she moved to St Andrews in 1995. She discovered the mitochondrial carnitine carrier, first reported at a Biochemical Society meeting in St Andrews in 1974, and has worked on mitochondrial enzymes ever since. Later highlights include elucidating the mechanism of MPTP toxicity (in the first animal model of Parkinson’s Disease), and designing inhibitors for monoamine oxidases to find new drugs for depression and for Alzheimer’s disease. She raised four children (born 1983, 1986, 1989, 1994) while maintaining her scientific productivity, and highly recommends St Andrews as place for raising children alongside an academic career. She is currently Athena Swan champion and serves on the Management Group for the School of Biology.

research@st-andrews profile . email: rrr@st-andrews.ac.uk


Judith’s research concentrates on the organisation of RNA processing in human cells and its disruption in degenerative conditions including Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) and Myotonic Dystrophy Type 1 (DM1). Following a BSc in Cellular and Molecular Pathology at the University of Bristol, she moved to Edinburgh to carry out a PhD on embryonic stem cell biology. This work led to a fascination with the structure and dynamics of mammalian cell nuclei, which has been at the core of her research since then. Following 7 years as a postdoc in Prof. Angus Lamond’s lab at the College of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, Judith was awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship in 2002. Following a short delay for maternity leave, she took up the fellowship and, in 2004, established an independent lab in the Division  of Pathology and Neuroscience, University of Dundee. In 2007, Judith was appointed as a lecturer at the University of St Andrews. Her current roles include Co-Convener of the School of Biology PhD recruitment committee; representative for St Andrews on the academic management group of the cross-University EASTBIO BBSRC doctoral training partnership and degree controller for the BSc in Cell Biology.

research@st-andrews profile . email: jes14@st-andrews.ac.uk

Dr V Anne Smith

Anne got her first degree in biology with mathematics at the College of William and Mary Virginia. She then did a PhD at Indiana University in animal behaviour, studying the development of social behaviour in brown-headed cowbirds. She won a Howard Hughes Pre-Doctoral Fellowship after her first year of PhD study. During her postgraduate work, she incorporated concepts from complex systems research, including computational modelling. Wishing to pursue this melding of computation and biology further, in 2001 she started a postdoc in computational biology and bioinformatics at Duke University’s Department of Neurobiology, where she studied gene regulation and neuronal signalling in songbird brains. She took up an Academic Fellowship in Neuroscience and Computational and Mathematical Biology at the University of St Andrews in 2005, where she started her independent research programme applying computational methods to biological networks in molecular, neuronal, and ecological systems. She was promoted to Senior Lecturer at the end of her Academic Fellowship in 2010, at which point she took on organising of the new Biology I module and became First Year Teaching Coordinator. Since then, she has added a new member to her family with the birth of her daughter in 2012, has expanded her teaching portfolio and now teaches across all four years, and has continued to pursue research in network science and machine learning across multiple levels of biological organisation.

research@st-andrews profile . email: vas1@st-andrews.ac.uk




Ildiko completed her doctorate at the University of Cambridge in 2007, where she studied Wnt signalling in Drosophila. After postdoctoral stays at the Observatoire Oceanologique de Banyuls sur Mer, Universite Pierre et Marie Curie (2007-2009), University of Barcelona (2009-2011) and University of Heidelberg (2011-2012), Ildiko returned to the UK as a MASTS lecturer. Her interests bridge the gap between cell and developmental biology and evolution, with a current focus on regenerative mechanisms in the marine invertebrate chordate amphioxus.

research@st-andrews profile . email: imls@st-andrews.ac.uk

Lesley studied for her first degree at the University of Dundee and conducted research in plant virology for her PhD at the Scottish Crop Research Institute (now the James Hutton Institute). After her PhD she worked for MAFF (Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food) Harpenden Laboratory, Harpenden, Herts. Where she worked on plant viruses of quarantine importance and devised serological tests to support potato and fruit classification schemes. Collaboration with Geoff Butcher at the Monoclonal Antibody Centre, Babraham Institute resulted in production of some of the first monoclonal antibodies to plant viruses and their application for epitope analysis and diagnostics.

Moving back to SCRI she continued research in plant virology and her current interests include studies on virus-host interactions and how virus infection is affected by abiotic stress.   Lesley has a keen interest in development and capacity building and has been working with colleagues in Kenya and Malawi on strengthening potato production systems. In addition to her role as part-time Professor in Biology at the University of St Andrews she is head of the Cell and Molecular Sciences Department at JHI, the 2014 President of the British Society for Plant Pathology and visiting Professor in the School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh.

She is married with two daughters who have now ‘flown the nest’.

research@st-andrews profile . email: lt27@st-andrews.ac.uk


The School of Chemistry holds an Athena Swan Silver award.



Sharon graduated in Chemistry from Hertford College, Oxford, in 1997, obtaining a MChem (1st Class), before staying to study for her DPhil in the Physical and Theoretical Chemistry Laboratory, Oxford in the group of Professor Stephen Wimperis, graduating in 2001. After postdoctoral research at the University of Exeter she joined the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge and in 2003, was awarded a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship which she held in Cambridge and, subsequently, in St Andrews. During this time she also held the Charles and Katherine Darwin Research Fellowship at Darwin College. From October 2005, she was appointed as an RCUK Academic Fellow in the School of Chemistry at the University of St Andrews, and was promoted to Reader in 2009 and Professor in 2013.

Her research focuses on the application of multinuclear solid-state NMR techniques, and, most recently, their combination with first-principles DFT calculations, to investigate structure, disorder and dynamics inorganic solids. She has published 110 papers in peer-reviewed journals, in addition to a number of book chapters. She was awarded the RSC Harrison Prize in 2004, the RSC/IOP award for the best contribution to magnetic resonance by an early career scientist in 2009, the RSC Marlow Award for Physical Chemistry in 2011 and the RSE Makdougall Brisbane Medal for Early Career Research in Physical Science in 2012. She is a member of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland and sits on the National Management Committee of the UK High-Field NMR facility.

research@st-andrews profile . email: sema@st-andrews.ac.uk
Dr Catherine Botting
Dr Catherine Botting
Research Fellow

Catherine runs the Biomedical Sciences Research Complex (BSRC) Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics Facility, and is based in the BMS Annexe. She has built the Facility up, through a succession of successful Wellcome Trust funded grant applications, from its original MALDI-TOF instrument in 1999 to the current multi-instrument Facility. The Facility works on a wide range of scientific problems, primarily for the BSRC researchers but also for other members of the University from the Schools of Biology, Chemistry, GeoSciences, Medicine and Physics and in collaboration with groups across the rest of the UK, Europe and the world. Catherine enjoys interacting with the significant number of PhD students, post-docs and principal investigators this entails to help design the right experiment to answer their scientific question and is delighted when mass spectrometry can give valuable insights into the science under investigation.

Catherine’s BSc degree was in Chemistry and her PhD in Bio-organic Chemistry. She moved to St Andrews part way through her PhD and has been so happy here she has never left! Her first post-doc was in vaccine development with Rick Randall. She was then awarded a Royal Society of Edinburgh/Caledonian Research Foundation Fellowship to work on Adenovirus DNA replication with Ron Hay, before setting up the Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics Facility.

Catherine’s husband, also a Chemistry lecturer at the University, died of kidney cancer in 2011 and Catherine discovered then just how amazingly supportive the School of Chemistry and the BSRC ‘families’ are.

At weekends Catherine likes to get out into the Scottish hills or to kayak and finds St Andrews a great base for these adventures.

email: cb2@st-andrews.ac.uk


Rebecca Goss is a bioorganic chemist/chemical biologist with research interests in the biosynthesis of natural products at the chemical and genetic level. Specifically, her research focuses on natural products with important medicinal properties and in understanding how biosynthetically intriguing motifs within these compounds are assembled. From this vantage point she harnesses individual enzymes as convenient tools for organic synthesis, and employs a combination of synthetic chemistry and synthetic biology to harness entire biosynthetic pathways in order to enable expeditious access to libraries of medicinally relevant compounds. Such libraries of new to nature natural products may be used to gain a greater understanding as to how the drug acts at the molecular level within the cell.

Rebecca completed her PhD in 2001 and started her independent research career in 2002 when she joined the faculty of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Nottingham. In 2003 Rebecca was appointed as a lecturer at the University of Exeter and was awarded a Royal Society BP Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship, she remained at Exeter until the closure of the Department of Chemistry there in 2005, and moved her research to the University of East Anglia. In 2008 the Goss group was joined by Rebecca’s baby daughter Esther. In 2010 Rebecca was promoted to Senior Lecturer, then in 2012 promoted to Reader at UEA. In 2012 Rebecca and seven of her group moved to the University of St Andrews.

Rebecca has delivered over 80 invited talks at departments and conferences in Europe and internationally. She is co-editor with Guy Carter and Anne Osbourn of the book “Natural Products, Discourse Diversity and and Design”. She has received a variety of awards including the Meldola Medal in 2006, The Natural Product Reports Lectureship in 2013, and an ERC consolidator grant in 2014.

research@st-andrews profile . email: rjmg@st-andrews.ac.uk

Alex Slawin was born in Taunton in 1961 where she went to Bishop Fox School. Mrs Peake, an inspirational chemistry teacher encouraged her interest in chemistry which led her to go to Imperial College to study for her BSc and PhD. She also got married and had three children at Imperial. In 1994 she moved to Loughborough University to establish a chemical crystallography lab. She completed her PhD in Loughborough. In 1999 she moved to St Andrews where she was promoted to Professor in 2002.   Her research is primarily concerned with the determination of the 3-D structures of molecules and materials and the relationship between these structures and properties.   As part of her research she has developed automation for crystallography. Her facility is now one of the best equipped in the world.

In 2013 she was recognized as an exceptional woman with over 50 papers in Angewandte Chemie and in 2014 she published her 1000th paper

research@st-andrews profile . email: amzs@st-andrews.ac.uk

Tanja’s research area comprises the field of electronic structure quantum chemistry and concerns, firstly, the investigation/promotion of methodological accuracy and, secondly, the application of state-of-the art methods to study the properties of molecules, with an emphasis on molecules of biological interest, including peptides, nucleotides and stacked DNA bases. Tanja obtained her PhD in 1994 (Utrecht, the Netherlands), after which she spent three years as a PDRA at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland (USA) in the group of Prof. Thom Dunning, Jr.

She came to the UK in 1997, and worked three years as a PDRA at University College London (UCL) with Profs. David Clary and Sally Price.

She was awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship in Oct 2000, which she took up at UCL and relocated to St Andrews in April 2006. She was appointed Senior Lecturer in August 2008 and promoted to Reader in August 2014.

research@st-andrews profile . email: tvm22@st-andrews.ac.uk


Nicky’s research focuses on biomineralisation. Nicky obtained her first degree in Biology at Imperial College and then completed her PhD studying the geochemistry of tropical coral skeletons as a climate indicator at the University of Edinburgh. Nicky completed a post-doctoral fellowship on marine metal bioavailability at University of Plymouth before moving to the University of Brighton where she was employed as a senior lecturer in Environmental Biology for 5 years. Nicky joined the school of Geography and Geosciences at the University of St. Andrews in 2001.

Nicky developed and built the St. Andrews coral culture laboratory: a state of the art facility to culture corals under tightly controlled CO2 and environmental conditions. This system is currently used to culture massive tropical Porites spp. corals over a range of seawater pH, to reflect past seawater conditions during the pre-industrial and the last glacial maximum and future seawater conditions associated with rising anthropogenic CO2 and ocean acidification.

Nicky lives with her partner and her two primary school age children. She is employed part-time (80%).

research@st-andrews profile . email: na9@st-andrews.ac.uk

Heidi is a marine biogeochemist, investigating the links between biogeochemical cycling and ecosystem function in marine and coastal benthic habitats. She completed Bachelors and Masters degrees in marine science at the University of Plymouth, followed by a brief stint at Plymouth Marine Laboratory as a molecular technician. In 2009, Heidi started a PhD at the University of Glasgow, in collaboration with theScottish Association for Marine Science. After a short postdoctoral role at Glasgow, in October 2013 Heidi was awarded an independent research fellowship from the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS) at the University of St Andrews.

Heidi’s research involves significant periods in the field, and sampling often involves SCUBA diving; Heidi is a qualifed commercial diver. Recent research has taken place in Egypt, France, Scotland and Canada. With support from the Royal Geographical Society and Gilchrist Educational Trust, Heidi will lead a research expedition to the Maldives in March 2015 to investigate the biogeochemistry of Maldivian coral reefs.

research@st-andrews profile . email: hb57@st-andrews.ac.uk

Andrea is interested in climate change, both today and in the geologic past. Her work focuses on understanding the forcings and responses of the climate system, with the goal of better understanding future climate scenarios. She uses isotopes in geological materials to reconstruct past changes in carbon cycling, climate forcing, and ocean circulation on timescales ranging from decades to hundreds of thousands of years. She earned her PhD in Geochemistry in 2011 from the MIT/WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography. She then spent two years at Caltech as a Stanbeck Postdoctoral Fellow in Environmental Sciences. She started at St Andrews as a lecturer in 2013 in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

research@st-andrews profile . email: ab276@st-andrews.ac.uk



Royal Society of Edinburgh Research Fellow

Claire is a planetary scientist interested in exploring Mars for evidence of past habitability and ancient microbial life. Her work focuses on combining geology, microbiology, and geochemistry to understand what types of environments could have existed on Mars in the past, and how to look for evidence of them in the Martian rock record through robotic exploration. She does this by using ‘Mars analogues’ – environments on Earth that are or were like those on Mars. So far this has included fieldwork to Iceland, Svalbard, and Greenland. She is a Co-Investigator on the Panoramic Camera on the European Space Agency’s ExoMars rover mission to Mars, due to launch in 2018. She is currently funded by a Royal Society of Edinburgh research fellowship. For more information see her website.

research@st-andrews profile . email: crc9@st-andrews.ac.uk


Althea is a palaeoecologist, specialising in the study of pollen and fungal spores preserved peat and lake sediments to reconstruct past ecological dynamics in upland and mountain ecosystems over the Holocene. Her research focuses on the role of palaeoecology in ecology and environmental management, notably long-term interactions between biodiversity, natural resource management and economic drivers. She also has an interest in using participatory methods to understand how cultural values influence management decisions and find ways of integrating different natural and social science perspectives.

She joined St Andrews in 2013 after a varied post-doc research career. Following a BSc in Botany (Reading University 1994), she completed an MSc in Environmental Archaeology and Palaeoeconomy (Sheffield University 1996). Althea’s PhD research (Stirling University 2000) combined her interests in ecology, long-term environmental change and land-use by looking at the role of human impact and climate change on woodland survival and decline in West Glen Affric (NW Scottish Highlands) as a basis for current woodland restoration. After several years working on short-term research projects and contract research, she developed an interdisciplinary project with historians and ecologists at the Centre for Environmental History (Stirling University) looking at human impacts on upland diversity over the last 400 years. This was followed by a RELU fellowship, funded by the ESRC, to explore the implications of long-term change for UK upland management. This combined stakeholder inputs and long-term ecology to evaluate the complementary roles of experiential and ecological evidence for managing upland habitats. This led to a very informative 2.5 year period at the James Hutton Institute and University of Aberdeen working on applied management issues, including collaborative resource management and cultural ecosystem values.

She is currently developing research projects with colleagues in Geography and Biology, which will build on a forthcoming research exchange, funded by SAGES, to the Ecoinformatics and Biodiversity group at Aarhus University (Denmark).

research@st-andrews profile . email: ald7@st-andrews.ac.uk


Dr Urska Demsar is Lecturer in Geoinformatics at the DGSD, School of Geography & Geosciences, University of St Andrews, Scotland, United Kingdom. She is originally from Ljubljana, Slovenia and she has two degrees in Applied Mathematics from the University of Ljubljana. She obtained her PhD in Geoinformatics from the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm, Sweden under the supervision of Dr Hans Hauska.

Before coming to St Andrews in 2012, she worked first as a postdoctoral fellow with Prof Stewart Fotheringham and then as Lecturer in Geocomputation at the National Centre for Geocomputation, National University of Ireland Maynooth. During her time in Ireland she was also part of the StratAG research cluster comprising researchers from four Irish universities. Previously she was a researcher at the Geoinformatics Department of the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm and a teaching assistant in Mathematics at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering at the University of Ljubljana.

Since January 2014 she is also External faculty member of St Andrews Human Computer Interaction Research group, School of Computer Science, University of St Andrews. Her research interests fall under the general area of spatio-temporal visual analytics. She is interested in using a combination of analytical and visual techniques for knowledge discovery from spatial and spatio-temporal data. She focuses on visualising model outputs from spatial statistical methods, such as Geographically Weighted Regression and other methods. More recently she became interested in analysing and visualising movement, which includes spatial trajectories and spatial flows. Her trajectory visualisation work expanded through her participation in the COST Action MOVE and through international collaborations that she established through this research network. For more info visit Urska’s website.

research@st-andrews profile . email: ud2@st-andrews.ac.uk

Lotta is a geomicrobiologist with current research interests in microbial ecology, functionality and astrobiology. Her project DeepHotMicrobe studies the limits of life in the deep subsurface, going as deep as 7 km to terrestrial crystalline bedrock. She uses genetic data of microbes to explore the metabolic potential and adaptability of microbial communities in deep subsurface. Her work combines microbiology, molecular biology, geology and geochemistry to provide understanding of the possibility of the emergence, development and sustainability of life in analogous planetary environments as well as the survival strategies of life on early Earth. She uses DNA- and RNA-based meta’omics’ methods to unravel the functionality of microbes thriving in habitats of multiple extremes.

She completed her PhD in applied microbiology jointly at University of Helsinki and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland in the beginning of 2016 and subsequently moved to Scotland to St. Andrews for a two-year Wihuri Foundation post-doctoral research fellowship in August 2016.

research@st-andrews profile . email: lkp5@st-andrews.ac.uk


Ruth is currently half-way through a two-year Marie Curie Intra-European research fellowship. She is an isotope geochemist and is currently researching biogeochemical processes in polar environments with the main focus on constraining how chemical weathering (a potential feedback process for long-term climate regulation) is affected by glaciation. She works with isotope tracers (Ca, Sr, Li) in stream water, together with the analysis of rock samples and laboratory experiments.

She completed her PhD in isotope geochemistry at ETH Zurich in 2011 and afterwards moved northwards for a 12 month post-doctoral position at the Norwegian Geological Survey (NGU) in Trondheim. This was followed by one year of maternity leave before moving to St. Andrews to start her current fellowship.

research@st-andrews profile . email: rh71@st-andrews.ac.uk


Ruth is a sedimentary geologist interested in the evolution of ancient and modern river systems. Recent research includes the evolution of the Yarlung Tsangpo and Irrawaddy rivers in Tibet and Burma over the last 40 million years, and the transfer of carbon and other elements in the waters and sediment of the modern Irrawaddy to the ocean. These two different timescales, millions of years and last 100’s years, allow Earth scientists to investigate both the tectonic control on river behaviour as the Himalayan mountains have grown, and the climate control on rivers in terms of geochemical cycling from land to sea.

Ruth started her geological career at the City University of New York with a BSc Honours in Geology, and then received a scholarship to study at Penn State. She received her PhD in Geosciences from there in 1997 and started her St Andrews career as a Teaching and Research Fellow. She became a lecturer in 1999 and a Senior Lecturer in 2008.

Ruth is the founder and director of GeoBus, an outreach project that takes Earth science resources to secondary schools around Scotland and England. The project is coordinated by 2 full-time employees who visit schools 4 times every week of term. Since January 2012, GeoBus has involved over 31,000 pupils and 150 different schools in hands-on practical science activities.

research@st-andrews profile . email: rajr@st-andrews.ac.uk


Katy is a palaeoecologist specialising in the use of sub-fossil pollen and sediments to reconstruct past vegetation responses to climatic change and human activity during the last half-million years. She is currently involved in work on pollen records spanning multiple glacial-interglacial cycles from the Mediterranean region, and on the Holocene history of tropical (particularly Amazonian) peatlands investigating questions of carbon dynamics and ecological change. Her BSc is in Geology and Zoology (Royal Holloway University of London, 1995) and her PhD research was in Quaternary palaeoclimatology; this concerned the relationship between marine and terrestrial records of abrupt climatic change in southern Europe during the last glaciation (University of Cambridge, 2000). She completed a Masters degree in Science Communication (Imperial College London, 2001) and spent a further year working as a freelance science writer. From 2002 to 2006 she was a NERC-funded post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Leeds with Prof Chronis Tzedakis, initially working on marine pollen records of the middle Pleistocene from the Iberian margin and then on terrestrial pollen records of the same interval from Lake Ioannina, Greece. Katy was appointed lecturer at the University of in Leeds in 2007 and stayed until the summer of 2014 when she moved to her current post at St Andrews. She lives in Fife with her husband, also a lecturer in Geography, and young son and has a 75% post.

research@st-andrews profile . email: khr@st-andrews.ac.uk
Dr Sarah Rugheimer
Simons Origins of Life Research Fellow

Sarah is an astronomer interested in modeling the atmosphere and climate of extrasolar planets with a particular focus on atmospheric biosignatures in Earth-like planets as well as in modeling early Earth conditions. In the next few decades, first with the James Webb Space Telescope and later with follow-up missions, we will be able to detect the atmospheres of habitable, Earth-sized exoplanets. The focus of my research is on how the spectral type and stellar activity will influence the photochemistry and therefore the resulting detectable spectral features in terrestrial planets. She is currently funded by the Simons Foundation research fellowship. For more information see her website.

research@st-andrews profile . email: srm26@st-andrews.ac.uk


Eva Stüeken (international spelling Stueeken) is a Lecturer. Eva is interested in the origin and early evolution of life on Earth and implications for life on other planets. She was trained in sedimentary geology and isotope geochemistry and uses the ancient rock record as an archive of environmental and biological evolution. Her main geochemical tools include traditional and non-traditional stable isotopes, in particular carbon, nitrogen, sulfur and selenium isotopes. Ongoing projects include the onset of biological nitrogen metabolisms in the Archean, the importance of continental habitats on microbial diversification, and the oxygenation of the deep ocean as recorded by its effects on the marine selenium cycle.

Eva obtained a dual-title PhD in Earth & Space Sciences and Astrobiology from the University of Washington, Seattle, 2014. She worked as a NASA Astrobiology postdoctoral fellow for two and a half years, split between the University of Washington and the University of California, Riverside, before she joined the University of St Andrews in 2017.

research@st-andrews profile . email: ees4@st-andrews.ac.uk


Aubrey Zerkle is a biogeochemist with a strong interest in the early Earth, and Co-PI of the newly renovated Peter James Clark Centre for Philosophical Geobiology. Her research focuses broadly on understanding the co-evolution of life with the Earth surface environment over geologic timescales. She utilizes a multi-disciplinary approach, including microbiology, stable isotopes, trace metal and nutrient geochemistry, to constrain biogeochemical cycling in modern and ancient environments. Current research in her group centres around: 1) evaluating stable isotope biosignatures for microbial metabolisms, 2) tracing geochemical cycling in modern “analogues” to ancient Earth systems, and 3) investigating feedbacks between the geosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere during important transitions in Earth history, including the Great Oxidation Event and the Permo-Triassic extinction.

research@st-andrews profile . email: az29@st-andrews.ac.uk

The School of Medicine holds an Athena Swan Bronze award.


Jennifer Burr is a Reader in the School of Medicine specialising in research into effective and efficient models for eye care using a variety of research methods including qualitative, evidence synthesis and large scale multicenter randomised controlled trials. She is founding director and executive chair of the Applied Clinical Trials Centre in Vision and Eyes at Moorfields Biomedical Research Centre in Ophthalmology. http://www.brcophthalmology.org/ACTIVE/Default.aspx

Her academic career is built on a background in medicine, and many years of experience in the NHS as an associate specialist in ophthalmology. She went on to a masters in epidemiology and statistics at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, then a clinical research fellowship in the Health Services Research Unit, University of Aberdeen leading to a MD (University of St Andrews) and the Fellowship of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists. Jennifer has four grown up children with careers in academic clinical medicine, architecture, water management and sustainability, and two grandchildren.

research@st-andrews profile . email: jmb28@st-andrews.ac.uk



Candace Currie is Director of the Child and Adolescent Health Research Unit, a multidisciplinary research centre focussed on understanding the social and developmental determinants of young people’s health and behaviour. Candace studied Zoology at the University of St Andrews followed by a PhD in Animal Behaviour at the University of Edinburgh. After working at postdoctoral level in animal and human studies she changed her career path towards public health. Candace’s research interests continue to link to her early studies as a biologist and behavioural scientist and range from individual developmental aspects of health related to puberty, to social aspects including gender and socioeconomic inequalities in health. With a strong interest in international work, Candace has served as the International Coordinator of a major cross-national study in adolescent health – the HBSC Study – for the past 20 years. She was awarded an OBE for her work in 2008. Candace has three children who have all been students at St Andrews; her husband, who she met as a student at St Andrews is a research scientist at Edinburgh University and SRUC.

research@st-andrews profile . email: cec53@st-andrews.ac.uk





Anita Laidlaw graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a  BSc (Hons) in Biology. She then moved the Medical, School, University of Newcastle Upon Tyne for PhD characterizing a behavioural model of itch. She then gained postdoctoral experience in cognitive behavioural neuroscience  at the School of Psychology, University of St Andrews before moving to the Medical School at St Andrews.

Anita carries out healthcare communication research, and is particularly interested in the cognitive factors that influence such communication. This interest extends into her teaching where she examines the efficacy of training in clinical communication for healthcare professionals. She is also interested in researching higher education student wellbeing.

research@st-andrews profile . email: ahl1@st-andrews.ac.uk



Gozde Ozakinci received her BA in Psychology from Bogazici University, Istanbul. Following a year in Cardiff, Whitchurch hospital as a community service volunteer, she did her MSc in Health Psychology under the supervision of Profs. John Weinman and Charles Abraham. She then moved to Istanbul to work in the newly established Psychology Department in Istanbul Bilgi University. Working there and teaching tutorials under the guidance of Dr. Hale Bolak Boratav and Prof. Diane Sunar has been a tremendous experience. Following a two-year stint in Istanbul, she went to Rutgers-The State University of New Jersey (USA) to do her PhD in Social/Health Psychology under the supervision of Prof. Howard Leventhal. After finishing her degree, she got a research fellowship at the University of St Andrews and then a lectureship.

research@st-andrews profile . email: go10@st-andrews.ac.uk


Royal Society University Research Fellow

Silvia is a neuroscientist working in the field of human genetics, interested in in the molecular mechanisms contributing to neurodevelopment. Her research aims at understanding how DNA variation may contribute to common disorders, such as dyslexia, or human traits, like handedness. She uses a combination of different methods and technologies integrating epidemiology, bioinformatics, molecular biology, stem cell and animal research. Her work involves large multidisciplinary and cross-country collaborations. Visit her website to find out more about her research.

She graduated in Biological Sciences from Pavia University and has a DPhil in Human Genetics from Oxford University. She moved to St Andrews University in 2011 and since then she has been holding a Royal Society University Research Fellowship.

She has two young daughters attending primary school and busy with many sports and activities. Inspired by her daughters, Silvia has joined, for the first time in her life, dance classes, which are widely available in St Andrews for any age and ability.

research@st-andrews profile . email: sp58@st-andrews.ac.uk


Royal Society of Edinburgh Academic Fellow

Samantha Pitt holds a Royal Society of Edinburgh Biomedical Fellowship. She graduated from the University of York in 2002 with a BSc (Hons) degree in Biology. She then went on to complete a PhD in Cellular Physiology at the University of Cambridge graduating in 2006. Following two postdoctoral positions studying mechanisms of ion-channel regulation, one at University College London (Department of Pharmacology) and one at the University of Bristol (Department of Pharmacology) she moved to her current position at the University of St Andrews. Throughout her career, Samantha’s main focus has been the role of ion-channels in mediating and regulating intracellular Ca2+-signals. The release of Ca2+ from intracellular stores within the cell is essential for a diverse range of fundamental processes including muscle contraction, fertilisation, cell division and neurotransmitter release. Using electrophysiological approaches Samantha is interested in the study of intracellular ion-channels that are involved in the control and regulation of metal ions in health and disease.

research@st-andrews profile . email: sjp24@st-andrews.ac.uk




Gillian Strugnell started her working life as a nurse and rose through the ranks to her last post which was in clinical teaching. Wishing for a change in direction she studied for undergraduate then postgraduate degrees during middle age. She came to her current post of teaching fellow in 2001 and her day to day work is to teach anatomy to first, second and third year medical students. Her work involves small group teaching in the dissecting room. Her current research interest is in dissection skills in medical students and she has a general interest in the dissection room as a parallel environment to the operating theatre.

A lengthier biography can be found on the School of Medicine website.

research@st-andrews profile . email: ges@st-andrews.ac.uk



The School of Psychology & Neuroscience holds an Athena Swan Bronze award.









Vice-Principal (Enterprise & Engagement)

Verity J Brown, Vice-Principal (Enterprise & Engagement) and Professor in Psychology & Neuroscience, began her first academic job in St Andrews in 1993, when her first daughter was two months old. Her second daughter was born in 1996. She was promoted to Reader in 1999 and Chair in 2002. She has served several terms as Head of the School of Psychology & Neuroscience (2000-2006 and 2011-2013) and held a Royal Society Industry Fellowship (2007-2012). She was Provost of St Leonards College (2013-14) before becoming Vice-Principal. She is Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Society of Biology and the Higher Education Academy.

Her research interest is in behavioural neuropsychopharmacology, with a focus on the cognitive impairments associated with psychiatric illnesses and the identification of potential pharmacological strategies to alleviate these.

research@st-andrews profile . email: vjb@st-andrews.ac.uk




Dr Gayle Doherty





Professor and School Director of Research

Julie and her group study human visual perception, aiming to understand how the eyes and brain process visual information to allow us to perceive and interact with our apparently colourful, 3-dimensional and constantly moving world. The group use behavioural, computational, and eye-movement measurement techniques to study problems ranging from how effective animal camouflage is, to revealing the fundamental neural pathways that underly our ability to see motion. Her work has been funded by BBSRC, EPSRC, MRC and the Leverhulme Trust.

She studied Physics at Imperial College (London, BSc, 1988), before embarking on postgraduate work in vision at the University of Oxford (DPhil, 1992). She worked as a postdoc in the USA at the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute (funded by a Human-Frontiers Long-term Fellowship), before taking up a Lectureship in Neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh (1995-1998). She later moved to Psychology at Newcastle University (1998-2005), joining St. Andrews as Professor of Psychology in 2005. Julie has also held an EPSRC Advanced Fellowship, and a Leverhulme Research Fellowship.

Julie serves as an Editorial Board member for 2 journals (Journal of Vision, Vision Research), is involved with grant review and committee work for 4 Research Councils (BBSRC, EPSRC, ESRC, MRC), and is regularly on the review committee for the two major international conferences in her area (Vision Sciences Society, European Conference on Visual Perception). She has also served on the Committee of the Applied Vision Association.

research@st-andrews profile . email: jh81@st-andrews.ac.uk

Dr Cat Hobaiter is a lecturer in the Origins of Mind group at the University of St Andrews where she studies the evolution of social behaviour, in particular through long-term field studies of wild apes. Having focused on the systematic study of gestural communication in the Sonso and Waibira chimpanzees of the Budongo forest, she recently expanded this to investigate how communication varies across different communities and sub-species of wild apes. Following the habituation of a new neighbouring chimpanzee community she is investigating how complex behaviour, such as communication or tool-using, may be transmitted both within and between chimpanzee communities.

research@st-andrews profile . email: clh42@st-andrews.ac.uk

Dr Verena Kersken
Research Fellow



Miss Jacqueline MacPherson


Paula is a Senior Teaching Fellow within the School of Psychology & Neuroscience. She is an Advisor of Studies for Sub Honours Science and is currently the Course Controller for First Year Psychology.  In addition to being responsible for the administration of first year and providing lectures throughout the course, Paula runs the lab component of the first year programme integrating research design, statistical analysis and practical laboratories.

Paula has extensive experience lecturing and coordinating courses in New Zealand, Canada and here in Scotland, in the areas of educational psychology, developmental psychology, abnormal psychology and research methodology. During her time at St Andrews Paula has received three teaching awards; two Student Association awards for Sub Honours Teaching and a University award for Teaching Excellence.

As an extension of Paula’s interest in educational psychology, she is currently researching factors that influence the student experience at university. One aspect of her research involves testing the effectiveness of different teaching approaches. She is interested to see the impact that these teaching techniques have on levels of student satisfaction, anxiety, confidence and performance, so that best practice can be employed in the higher education setting. In addition, Paula is investigating student well-being across the academic year. Paula hopes to gain a clearer picture of how well students cope during their time at university and to identify any potential niches where additional support would be beneficial.

research@st-andrews profile . email: pjm11@st-andrews.ac.uk





Emily Witts
Research Fellow


I studied Psychology at Sussex University, before moving to Durham University to specialise in Developmental and Comparative Psychology. My PhD focused on social learning strategies in children and chimpanzees.

I work with primates (including humans) to try and understand culture, its evolution and the mechanisms of transmission of information from individuals. I am currently based at Edinburgh Zoo in the St Andrews Living Links to Human Evolution research centre. I work with capuchins, squirrel monkeys and some zoo visitors. I am the research coordinator for Living Links and I am involved with the Zoo’s science communication of the study of primates.

research@st-andrews profile . email: lanw@st-andrews.ac.uk

The School of Mathematics & Statistics holds an Athena Swan Bronze award.


Yuan (Joyce) Yuan

Yuan (Joyce) Yuan finished her Ph.D. in statistics from University of St Andrews in 2012. Currently she is a post-doctoral research fellow in the Centre for Research into Ecological & Environmental Modelling at University of St Andrews. She is interested in wildlife population assessment methods, spatial and spatial-temporal modelling approaches, point process models, and measuring biodiversity changes in time and space.

research@st-andrews profile . email: yy84@st-andrews.ac.uk