Academic biography
My undergraduate studies in Cellular and Molecular Biochemistry at the University of Oxford and biopharmaceutical work experience fostered my early interest in computational biology. Subsequent formalisation of my training through an MSc in Bioinformatics at Imperial College London equipped me with the skills necessary to pursue my doctoral studies in comparative genomics. My thesis detailed the computational comparative analysis of insect genomes, focusing on the immune system of disease-vector mosquitoes. During my postdoctoral research at the University of Geneva Medical School I developed and supervised projects in arthropod genomics with many international collaborations, to understand principles of molecular evolution and genome biology. As a Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology I successfully led the comparative analysis of multiple mosquito genomes. Returning to Geneva, I am developing my research with a focus on the comparative evolutionary and functional genomics of disease-vector mosquitoes and other insects.
About me
Born in the Kingdom of Swaziland – a small, land-locked developing country found nestling between South Africa and Mozambique – and growing up on a cattle farm in the lowveld miles from the nearest paved road, it is perhaps hardly surprising that I developed an interest in the natural world around me. Although there were always plenty of larger creatures to distract me, the incredible variety and sheer numbers of different insects could not be ignored – especially when they insisted on coming inside and making themselves at home. Mosquitoes in particular certainly left an impression – not only with their annoying bites and incessant buzzing, but also with the threat of malaria, which I contracted twice as a child. Surviving these and other perils, I completed my primary and secondary schooling in Swaziland before leaving for university in the UK in 2000. Now living in Switzerland on the shores of Lake Geneva, I study insect genomes, their encoded genes, and how they have evolved – especially those of my childhood tormentors, the disease-carrying mosquitoes!