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 and prokaryotic 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 three daughters.
Abi Perrin Postdoc
I joined the lab and the worlds of microalgae and photosynthesis in January 2021 after a decade working on disease-causing microbes. Before moving to York I completed my degree in Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge specialising in microbiology then focussed on host-pathogen protein-protein interactions involved in disease during my PhD at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. During this time I became fascinated by the single-celled parasites that hijack red blood cells to cause malaria then moved to London to work more closely on their biology and genetics at the Francis Crick Institute. Now I hope to apply the techniques and insights that have revolutionised our understanding of malaria by using high-throughput genetic approaches to characterise the localisation and function of thousands of proteins in cyanobacteria, which are the photosynthetic prokaryote ancestors of chloroplasts in algae and plants.
Charlotte Walker Discovery Fellow/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 DFG Fellow/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.
Onyou Nam Postdoc
I completed my undergraduate degree in Biotechnology at Sejong University in Korea. During this time, I became interested in marine phytoplankton. I joined Prof. EonSeon Jin’s lab in 2015 and obtained my PhD in Life Science at Hanyang University in Seoul, Korea. My study focused on the biomineralisation mechanism of the coccolithophorid alga Emiliania huxleyi, which is an important species for the global carbon cycle. While studying microalgae, I got fascinated by carbon concentrating mechanisms (CCM). I was delighted to join the Mackinder lab in May 2021 to understand the fundamental biology of carbon fixation in photosynthetic organisms. My project will focus on developing high-throughput approaches to rapidly advance our knowledge of the diatom CCM. During my free time, I enjoy nature, travelling and like to watch movies and sports.
Mihris Naduthodi Postdoc
After completing my Bachelors in Biotechnology and Biochemical Engineering from University of Kerala in India, I moved to the Netherlands in 2015 to pursue my Masters in Cellular and Molecular Biotechnology at the Wageningen University and Research. During this time, I was introduced to the CRISPR-Cas systems and was fascinated by its application as a genome engineering tool across organisms. This interest led me to the lab of John van der Oost, one of the pioneers in the field of CRISPR technology to perform my MSc thesis where I gained experience on using this technology for generating mutants in thermophilic bacteria. Later on, after completing my MSc, I was appointed as a PhD candidate under the supervision of John and Maria Barbosa where I developed novel CRISPR-based genetic tools for microalgae Nannochloropsis oceanica. Upon completion of my PhD in 2021 and after working with microalgae for four years, I was curious about the carbon fixing mechanisms in microalgae. Research into this field led me to the Mackinder lab, where I presently study the carbon concentration mechanisms in microalgae.
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 PhD Student
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.
Sabina Musial PhD Student
I completed my integrated masters degree at the University of Sheffield in 2021. During my course I have conducted two research projects which have shaped my current interest. During my third year I focused on bioinformatic analysis of mRNA transcripts with introns in their 3’ Untranslated Regions in breast cancer. For my masters thesis I took a more structural angle and studied the structure of cytochrome bc1 from the photosynthetic bacterium Rhodobater sphaeroides using cryo-electron microscopy. These experiences ensured me that I want to work in both the fields of photosynthesis and structural biology while applying bioinformatics which motivated me to join the Mackinder group where I am hoping to look at the proteins involved in the structure and function of the pyrenoid in diverse algal lineages using cryo-electron microscopy and tomography. In my free time I love going on long walks, watching films and climbing.
Caroline McKenzie Masters by Research
I graduated with a BSc Biochemistry from Newcastle University in 2021. Throughout the course my interest was drawn by proteins, particularly the interactions between structure and function. My undergraduate studies culminated with a research project in Professor Jeremy Lakey’s lab focusing on bacterial outer membrane protein-lipopolysaccharide interactions. It was an excellent experience which confirmed my desire to pursue postgraduate study. I’m grateful for the opportunity to research diatom pyrenoid proteins as a member of the Mackinder lab. This research area combines my passion for protein biochemistry with my long held interest in algae and plant sciences. I look forward to working with the rest of the group during my research project. When I’m not in the lab you can usually find me singing, enjoying local parks and reading detective fiction.
Matt Dowson Lab Technician
I graduated from the University of York with a BSc in Biology in 2019. During my time as an undergrad, I completed a research project in Professor Dawn Coverley’s lab exploring the role of the nuclear matrix associated protein CIZ1 in X chromosome inactivation. This sparked my interest in molecular cell biology and microscopy. I also completed an internship in James Chong’s lab in collaboration with Yorkshire Water, working on ribosomal RNA and microbial community classifications.
After graduating, I spent two years working as a logistics area manager for Amazon, but I decided the industry wasn’t for me and so am making a career change back into Science.
I’m looking forward to assisting with a number of projects in the Mackinder lab as a technician and learning more about plant biology, CCM and high-throughput techniques. In my spare time, I like getting involved with watersports, especially surfing or travelling when I get chance.
Tom Emrich-Mills, current position: PhD student at University of Sheffield