Luke Mackinder PI
Luke completed his undergraduate degree in Natural Sciences at Durham University, UK where he graduated in Organic Chemistry and Molecular Biology. During his MSc and PhD, his research focused on viral infection and carbon fixation of marine phytoplankton. Pursuing his passion for understanding carbon fixation in eukaryotic algae, he completed his postdoctoral research in the Jonikas Lab at the Carnegie Institution for Plant Sciences, Stanford USA, where he worked on the carbon concentrating mechanism of the model green algae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Since October 2016 he is a lecturer at the University of York where his lab uses systems and synthetic biology approaches to understand eukaryotic carbon fixation. If he is not in the lab, you'll find Luke riding the roads and trails of Yorkshire on his bike, chasing Yorkshire waves or hanging out with his wife and twin daughters.
Gary Yates Postdoc
I graduated from the University of Glasgow in 2013 after studying Genetics. I then went on to a 4 year PhD at Durham University where I specialised in protein modification in plants. By the time my PhD was ending I was aspiring to join a lab with an ultramodern multi-discipline approach to research working on a fundamental biological process.
I was always fascinated by the different ways photosynthetic organisms converted light and CO2 into energy and how curiously diverse the mechanisms are between species. After reading more and more about the Mackinder lab projects I became captivated with the prospect of working in this field.
My work focuses on identifying and characterising known and novel components of the Carbon Concentrating Mechanisms (CCM) within Chlamydomonas with the aim of creating a dynamic interactome of the algal pyrenoid. This research is geared towards the goal of enhancing photosynthesis in crop plants by reconstitution of the CCM components in higher plants.
Charlotte Walker Postdoc
I completed my BSc in Biological Sciences at the University of Exeter in 2011, after which I left the UK to work on a marine conservation project with the Bahamas National Trust. After 1. 5 years of fine tuning my scientific diving skills and avoiding temperate weather, I returned to the UK to study for a MRes in Marine Biology with Plymouth University. My project focused on the molecular monitoring of harmful algal blooms. During this time I developed a fascination for microalgae physiology and how they influence life on Earth. This led on to my Ph.D research which was conducted with the University of Southampton and the Marine Biological Association of the UK whereby I explored mechanisms of calcification in coccolithophores, photosynthetic marine microalgae which produce calcium carbonate platelets and greatly influence ocean biogeochemistry.
After finishing my Ph.D I have been fortunate to join the Mackinder Lab here in York. I am really interested in physiology and fundamental life processes, therefore the opportunity to work on Chlamydomonas carbon fixation is really exciting. During the project we will be focusing on characterizing HCO3- transport within the carbon concentrating mechanism.
Philipp Girr Postdoc
During my undergraduate education in Bochum and Mainz (Germany), I became highly fascinated by photosynthesis. I joined the lab of Prof. Harald Paulsen (Mainz) in 2015 to study water-soluble chlorophyll proteins, a frequently used model system to understand chlorophyll-chlorophyll as well as chlorophyll-protein interactions.
After I obtained my Ph.D. from the University of Mainz, Germany, I decided to change my research focus from light-harvesting-related research to carbon fixation. After reading more and more about carbon concentrating mechanisms (CCM) in algae, I was very happy to join the Mackinder lab, where I will pursue research on the CCM of Chlamydomonas. My projects in the Mackinder lab will focus on understanding the interaction between thylakoid membrane and pyrenoid, and on building a synthetic CCM model system.
Irina Grouneva Research technician
Diatom photosynthesis regulation has been the main focus of my research for more than ten years. I obtained my PhD in Biology at the University of Leipzig, Germany, and went on to work as a postdoc in the group of Eva-Mari Aro at the University of Turku, Finland. The main focus of my research during that time was the protein composition, structure and flexibility of the thylakoid membrane of Thalassiosira pseudonana. I moved to Norwich in 2016 to work on Crispr/Cas-mediated targeted gene editing in the ice diatom Fragilariopsis cylindrus in the lab of Thomas Mock at the University of East Anglia.
I joined Luke Mackinder’s lab in February 2018 to support the project identifying and characterising novel proteins involved in CCM and comprising the pyrenoid of Chlamydomonas. I hope to be able to contribute to various aspects of this research topic, providing technical assistance in the fields of cell physiology, proteomics and molecular biology.
Christine Kwok PhD Student
I completed my BSc in Biological Sciences at University of Durham in 2015 and my MSc in Applied Biosciences and Biotechnology at Imperial College London in 2016. I conducted a research project during both of my degrees, with my bachelor one focusing on the genetic diversity of invasive common cordgrass populations from three different locations in England, and my master project looking into the gene expression of two candidate genes that might help control sprouting of potatoes in various temperatures and protein expression and purification of both genes for further structural and interactions study. Throughout my study, I’ve become interested in crop improvement research and hope to contribute to this area in the future. After learning that the Mackinder Lab aims at understanding the CO2-Concentrating Mechanism (CCM) in algae and constructing a functioning one into crop plants to improve photosynthesis for higher crop yields, I immediately applied for the advertised PhD position here. I am grateful that I was accepted and look forward to working here. My project will focus on identifying the regulatory components and pathways in the CCM of Chlamydomonas. If I am not in the lab, I am usually at home listening to music and drawing.
James Barrett PhD Student
I graduated from the University of York with a BSc in Biochemistry. In that time I spent a year at the Technical University of Denmark with Professor Mikael Rørdam Andersen working on Aspergillus fungi. In my final year I completed a BSc research project in the Mackinder lab working on starch-associated proteins in Chlamydomonas. This sparked my interest in green algal research; marrying my interests in microscopy and molecular biology with direct implications for environmental wellbeing. My PhD project in the lab aims to utilise super-resolution microscopy techniques to better understand the dynamics of the phase-separated algal pyrenoid in Chlamydomonas. Outside of the lab, I enjoy road cycling and walking in the Peak District.
Justin Lau Masters by research
I graduated in BSc Plant sciences at the University of Sheffield in 2016. During my degree, I joined Professor Andrew Fleming’s lab group to investigate the impact of stomatal change on A. thaliana histology. At that time I was introduced to the panoply of ways that plant scientists are developing to boost photosynthetic efficiency and improve crop yield. Soon I was fascinated by CCMs, with their often intricate and elegant coupling of physical structure and biochemical pathways. This led to my final year project on light-dark transition of carboxylation/decarboxylation enzyme kinetics in the C4 mechanism in Professor Richard Leegood's group. Continuing this work after graduation, I focused on dissecting enzyme kinetic differences in C4 sub type models. This year, I’m very happy to be in the Mackinder lab, exploring the beauty of another complex CCM. On the weekends, you can normally find me busy in the kitchen making food for my friends for a cosy night in.
Ellie Fletcher Masters by research
I graduated from the University of Warwick in 2019, where I studied a BSc in Biological Sciences. During my degree I was fortunate to study abroad for a year at Monash University, Melbourne. I have been interested in plant science for many years and completed my final year project on Nitrogen fixation in Medicago truncatula. I also did a summer placement working on growth improvement of Arabidopsis thaliana where I fostered a passion for microscopy. Therefore, I am excited to join the Mackinder lab for a Masters by Research to combine my interests in photosynthetic organisms and microscopy. In particular, I plan to use fluorescent microscopy approaches to learn more about protein dynamics in the pyrenoid of Chlamydomonas. Outside of the lab, I play the violin and am involved in several music groups at the University of York, including the University Choir, Concert Orchestra and Folk group.
Tom Emrich-Mills, current position: PhD student at University of Sheffield