Robert W. Jackson is an Associate Professor of Molecular Microbiology within the School of Biological Sciences, University of Reading. He is also the School Director of Enterprise and Industrial Experience tutor.
Having always had an interest in science from a young age, his appetite for research started during a 6 month Erasmus placement at the University of the Algarve in Portugal working with Prof. Jose Leitao – he worked on examining tissue culture methods to propagate local plant species. A further 6 month spell working with Dr David Royle on Septoria disease on winter wheat at Long Ashton Research Station was the project that sparked an interest in plant pathology and led to searches for a PhD in the discipline. His PhD (1994-1997) research was done in the laboratory of Alan Vivian at the University of the West of England examining the role of plasmids in Pseudomonas syringae pathogenicity on plants. A major breakthrough led to 3 years BBSRC postdoc work with Alan and John Mansfield (Imperial College). In 2001, he moved to the lab of Paul Rainey in the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, working on Pseudomonas fluorescnes interactions with plants. After this highly inspiring and insightful spell, Rob was awarded a British Society for Plant Pathology fellowship to do a 2 month research project at the University of Auckland in 2004. The following 5 months were spent back at UWE working for Dawn Arnold and in late 2004, he joined the lab of Richard Cooper in the University of Bath studying bacterial extracellular polysaccharides. In 2006, he finally achieved his ambition by landing a lectureship at the University of Reading.
In his personal time, he enjoys cooking, wine, reading, gardening, scuba diving, hiking and dreaming that Liverpool might once again lift the league cup!
Tiffany Taylor is a postdoctoral researcher from the United Kingdom. She is supported by a Leverhulme Trust grant awarded to Louise Johnson (Reading) in collaboration with Rob Jackson (Reading) and Mike Brockhurst (York). Her research is using experimental evolution to explore the evolution of novel genetic codes and their genomic consequences.
She completed her DPhil at Oxford University in 2011 with Angus Buckling, which used Pseudomonas aeruginosa as a microbial model system to identify abiotic and biotic forces that shape the evolution of dispersal with particular focus on kin competition and host-parasite interactions.
When not in the lab, Tiffany enjoys running, knitting, and playing guitar (not all at the same time). See her personal webpage: www.reading.ac.uk/~ss903100
Mateo San Jose Garcia is a postdoctoral researcher supported by a Spanish fellowship to work on the characterisation of bacterial virulence factors.
Rachel Parsonson is a PhD student from the United Kingdom. She is supported by the Lawes Agricultural Trust Fund established at Rothamsted Research and studies the effect of farm management, soil type and the environment on the diversity of Rhizobia in agricultural soils. The project compliments a larger Defra LINK sponsored project LegumeLINK, investigating ways to provide stability of leguminous-based fertility building under conditions of increased environmental variation. She is co-supervised by Hannah Jones and Liz Shaw.
She completed a BSc (Hons) degree in Biology at the University of York in 2006, spending a year in industry at Forest Research in Edinburgh working as part of the plant establishment team. Following graduation she worked in environmental education and public health before deciding to return to university, completing an MSc degree in Soils and Environmental Pollution in 2010. Her MSc thesis supervised jointly by Liz Shaw and Hannah Jones investigated Rhizobia diversity and nitrogen fixation in organically and conventionally managed soils.
When not in the lab, Rachel enjoys knitting, baking bread and making wedding cakes. Other interests include gardening, charity work and cycling.
Sarah James is a PhD student from the United Kingdom and she is supported by a NERC-CASE studentship in collaboration with Ian Jones (Reading), Mike Brockhurst (University of York) and Glynn Percival (Bartletts Tree Experts). She is examining the diversity of Pseudomonas syringae phage and is using experimental evolution to generate a diversity of phage genotypes. She will then investigate the efficacy of phage mixtures for curing Horse Chestnut bleeding canker disease. Sarah completed a BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences at the University of Exeter in 2008 before spending some time working as a Human Identity laboratory analyst.
Rebekah Robinson is a PhD student from the United Kingdom supported by a BBSRC-CASE studentship and is based at Rothamsted Research with Drs Bart Fraaije, Penny Hirsch and Tim Mauchline. Rebekah is identifying and characterising wheat endophytes.
Oliver Booth is a PhD student from the United Kingdom supported by Bartlett Tree Experts. His research considers the bacterial pathology associated with Acute Oak Decline. He is co-supervised by Glynn Percival and Liz Shaw. Oliver completed a BA (Hons) in Philosophy at University College, London University in 1989 and a MSc in Conservation Management through Essex University in 2010. He has worked within the Forestry and Arboricultural industries for almost 20 years managing his own company. Currently the business concentrates on woodland ecology and the biofuels sector. Oliver enjoys classical music and hiking in Scotland when time permits.
Amanda Livermore is a PhD student from the United Kingdom supported by the Horticultural Development Company. Her research is identifying bacterial pathogens of aphids for the control of aphids on important crop plants such as tomato and pepper.
Louise Birse is a PhD student from the United Kingdom co-supervised by Nicola Holden and supported by joint funding between the University of Reading and James Hutton Institute. Prof. Simon Andrews and Dr Carol Wagstaffe are second supervisors. Louise will be analysing changes in the Escherichia coli O157 transcriptome during colonisation of plants to better understand the molecular basis of survival on plants.
Emma Saxon is a PhD student from the United Kingdom supported by a Food Security studentship between the University of Reading, University of Nottingham and Rothamsted Research. She is primarily supervised by Prof. Liz Sockett and co-supervised by Penny Hirsch, Phil Murray and Kim Hammond-Kosack at Rothamsted Research. She completed her BSc (Hons) degree in Biology at the University of Nottingham in 2011. Through the course of her study, she developed a keen interest in microbiology and genetics. For her final year dissertation project, she joined Liz Sockett's laboratory and investigated the role of the ParA DNA partitioning proteins in the unusual predatory bacterium, Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus. The soil-borne Bdellovibrio invades and kills a wide variety of gram-negative bacteria. Her PhD project will continue this focus on Bdellovibrio, exploring its potential as a 'food security guard' to control bacterial infections in agriculturally important plants.
When not in the lab, Emma is an avid cake baker, specialising in gingerbread houses. She also enjoys playing the guitar, singing, reading, writing and doing yoga.
Deepa Paliwal is a PhD student from India, now based in the United Kingdom. She is supported by the University of Reading International Scholarship & Bayer CropScience AG and studies the characterization of the tri-trophic bacteria/aphid/plant interaction at a molecular level. She is co-supervised by Carol Wagstaff at Reading, Lin Field, Chris Bass and Tim Mauchline at Rothamsted Research, and Dr Ralf Nauen at Bayer CropScience. Deepa completed double post graduation in Biotechnology from India in 2009. Her final year project involved both bioinformatics as well as wet lab techniques, where she worked on neuroblastoma cell lines and established an oxidative stress model for neurodegenerative disease. After moving to the UK, she gained further molecular experience by exploring the cell growth-associated genes in Arabidopsis thaliana at the John Innes Centre, Norwich. From January 2012, she worked as a Technical Assistant at the University of Reading and in July 2012, joined the Insect resistance group at Rothamsted Research preparing well to start her PhD from October 2012. When not in the lab, Deepa enjoys Reading books, listening to Indian Music. Other interests include gardening and cooking.
Oliver George is a PhD student from the UK supported by a BBSRC DTP. He is based at Reading on a collaborative project with Martin Woodward, Simon Andrews, Liz Shaw and Penny Hirsch and Tim Mauchline at Rotahmsted Research. His research examines E. coli O157 colonisation of plants.
Astrid Altamirano-Junqueira is a PhD student from South America who is based at Reading and is co-supervised by Louise Johnson and Tiff Taylor. I am a microbiologist with expertise in Analytical Chemistry. I worked as research assistant at the International Potato Center to study the distribution of resistance of late blight to fungicides in the Ecuadorian highlands. Then, I studied the distribution of the biosynthetic capability of Rapamycin in the Streptomyces violacenagenous clade at University of Newcastle (United Kingdom). Thereafter, I studied analytical chemistry and synthesized thiourea derivatives and thiazoline compounds in order to study their biological properties to treat the virus Herpes Simples Type I. Later, I worked as research assistant and teaching assistant at University of North Texas (USA). Here, I studied the Systemic Acquired Resistance of Arabidopsis thaliana. Currently, I am doing a research project on the evolution of motility in Pseudomonas fluorescens, an important plant growth promoting bacteria.
Michelle Hulin is a PhD student from the UK who is based at East Malling Research with Richard Harrison. Michelle is investigating the evolution of virulence in tree pathogens. My research interests include molecular biology, plant pathology and evolution. MyPhD project ‘Host Jump genetics – the mechanisms of pathogen adaptation in Pseudomonas’ focuses on the economically important plant pathogen Pseudomonas syringae, which causes disease in a diverse range of plants from wheat to cherry. I will use comparative genomic analysis to explore the genetic basis of host jump events, in particular focusing on the centrality of virulence effector genes to this process. A greater understanding of the genetics behind host jumps will greatly benefit agriculture. It may enable the prediction of future hosts and may influence current strategies of breeding for increased resistance to disease in food crops. I recently graduated from the University of Bath (BSc Biology) where I became interested in plant pathology after working on a rapid detection protocol for Fusarium oxysporum f. sp elaeidis (the causal agent of Fusarium wilt of oil palm) supervised by Dr Richard Cooper. Outside the lab I enjoy reading, painting, playing piano, knitting and jogging.
Past lab members
Dr Abdullah Alsohim is from Saudi Arabia. He was supported by the Government of Saudi Arabia to read for his PhD and studied swarming motility in Pseudomonas fluorescens. He has now completed his PhD.
Abdullah was appointed as a demonstrator at King Saud University in 2002. He then studied for an MSc in General Bioscience at the University of Leeds, graduating in 2006.
Dr Federico Dorati is from Italy. He was supported by a joint Reading Endowment Trust Fund/School of Biological Sciences scholarship to study how Pseudomonas syringae survives in the plant environment, for his PhD.
He studied for his BSc (Hons) degree and his MSc (Hons) in Biotechnology at the University of Padova from 2002 to 2007. He now works for Millipore in Paris, France.
Glyn Barrett was a PhD student from the United Kingdom, supported by the Lawes Agricultural Trust Fund established at Rothamsted Research and studied the mechanisms of survival of Escherichia coli O157:H7 within the plant environment. He was co-supervised by Liz Shaw and Simon Andrews.
Glyn now works at Forest Research.
Nicholas Rop was a PhD student from Kenya who visited the lab for a period of one year funded by a Commonwealth Scholarship. He is interested in Xanthomonas diseases of Brassica crops and has now completed his PhD.
Fabrizio Alberti was a Masters student from the University of Perugia visiting the lab for 4 months on an ERASMUS placement. He was studying bacterial pathogens of aphids, has now completed his Masters and is currently doing PhD study in University of Bristol.
Jessica del Rio provides technical support to the lab.
Sujatha Telladalla (UK), Igor Kljujev (Serbia, visitor to Simon Andrews lab), Juan Anson (Spain, with Demetris Savva), Luiza Struchkova (Russia), Leire Bardaji (Spain), Fabrizio Alberti (Italy), Mateo San Jose (Spain), Elena Colombi (Italy), Martina Cerri (Italy), Yasir Iftikhar (Pakistan), Lal Arachchige (Sri Lanka), Jesus Murillo (Spain)
Summer vacation studentships
Nikolas Muldal (Genetics Society) examining evolution of bacteria by integron movement.
Alex Cooper (Genetics Society) examining the association of bacterial integrons with UV-resistance genes
Anna Douglas (UROP) examining biocontrol bacteria of spider mites and assessing bee microbial populations, in collaboration with Alejandra Perotti
Katherine Stephens (UROP) used bioinformatics to study Pseudomonas phage genomes and distribution with the aim of developing diagnostic PCR primers, in collaboration with Ian Jones
Courtney Hunt (SGM) characterised P. cichorii MCP mutants that have lost insect toxicity
Emily Codling (BSPP) examining New Zealand Tomato Potato Psyllid populations and their associated Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum strains, in collaboration with Andrew Pitman
Amy Denyer (UROP) identifying phage of mastitis-causing bacteria, in collaboration with Patricia Aikman and Simon Clarke
Amanda Livermore (Industry-sponsored) studying microbial ecology of computer keyboards, in collaboration with Falcon Innovations
Nunzia Sposito (UROP) studying Rhizobium diversity, in collaboration with Hannah Jones.
Elena Robinson (SGM) studying effector integrons in Pseudomonas syringae.
Glyn Barrett (Genetics Society) studying Pseudomonas insect and nematode pathogenicity.
Tomas Geleta (UROP) studying bacterial production of nitric oxide, in collaboration with Phil Dash
Cheryl Wilkinson, Martin Chadwick, Jennifer Farley, Francesca Knibbs (2007/8); Tomas Geleta, Glyn Barrett (with Liz Shaw) (2008/2009); Chloe Edwards, Emily Knight, Alex Reynolds, Samuel Lethbridge, Annabel Summers, Mark Girdlestone, Suzanne Harris, Oscar MacCormac (with Simon Clarke) (2009/2010); Oliver O'Brien, Charon-Ann Tibbs, Graham Robinson, Ziyad al-Dibouni, Amanda Livermore, Lewis Smith, Nunzia Sposito (2010/11); Tayiba Arif, Elin Bentall, Moti Gurung, Emily Hartrey, Valentin Jehan, Neelum Sheikh, Thaddeus Ugoagu, Jack Whiting (2011/12); Nicholas Lee, James Reid (2012/13); Ryan Arch, Jacob Wooding, Liam Swindles, Philip Whittaker, Adam Clarke, Jonathan Ashall, Veena Tailor, Madeline Lewis (2013/14).