Welcome to Michelle Baker and Henry Todman

We are delighted to welcome two new lab members this month, Michelle Baker and Henry Todman. Both Michelle and Henry are joint appointments with the School of Mathematics, co-supervised with Theo Kypraios.

Michelle has rejoined our lab, following a post-doc with Jamie Twycross and Liz Sockett. Michelle’s previous stint with us was very productive, leading to our first AMR slurry modelling paper, which I am sure contributed to our grant success. Michelle will be with us for two years. Michelle writes:

I am a post-doctoral researcher in the field of mathematical biology, and am particularly interested in the study of bacteria and antibiotic resistance. I work in the EVAL-FARMS project using mathematical modelling to investigate the risk of emergence of antibiotic resistance from agricultural slurries. This interdisciplinary project allows me to work alongside experts from a wide range of disciplines to tackle the problem in an integrated way and to produce high quality research.

I completed my PhD in Mathematics here at the University of Nottingham, focussed on cytokine dynamics in arthritic disease. After completing my PhD I took up a research position supervised by Prof Liz Sockett and Dr Jamie Twycross, investigating the potential of predatory bacteria to be used as ‘living antibiotics’.

Henry Todman has joined us as a four year PhD student associated with the EVAL-FARMS project. Henry writes:

I am a mathematical modelling PhD student working with Dov, Theo Kypraios and Michelle Baker. My PhD research will primarily look at developing new mathematical models to assess the risks of bacterial population carrying antimicrobial resistance genes and fitting these models to experimental data produced from the EVAL-FARMS project. 

Prior to beginning my PhD, I studied Mathematics at the University of Warwick for my undergraduate degree, and also completed an MSc in Mathematical Medicine and Biology at the University of Nottingham. Over the course of my MSc I was exposed to a wide range of current research topics in mathematical biology, however, it was antimicrobial resistance that immediately captured my interest. This led me to complete my dissertation on the phage-mediated spread of AMR, and I am now eager to pursue this topic even further in my PhD.

Outside of work, I am a keen climber and you will often find me hanging off some rock in the Peak District, or taking part in bouldering competitions around the country.


Research projects gain value from external advisory boards

On Monday we had our first External Advisory Board meeting for our EVAL-FARMS AMR project. We have a good number of external advisors, representing industrial, policy and academic stake-holders. It is also the first time I have led a project with an external board. My reactions are:

  1. We had a very successful and enjoyable event. Our external advisors are, of course, lovely, interesting, intelligent and successful people from a wide range of backgrounds, so it was a pleasure to spend time with them.
  2. We now have a broad perspective of input into our project. We are no longer a group of academics talking to each other – we are now a group of academics also in conversation with the broader outside world – giving real context for our work and its impact to other sectors – and helping us to ensure appropriate outputs, messages and impact into their sectors.
  3. We have a group of people who will hold us to account. We need to stay on track and stay relevant!
  4. When I look back on previously held research funding, especially the Lux and Biolog projects, I can see now how much an external board would have helped us to run the projects better. I wish we had had them!
  5. In future, I will look towards having external boards for all research projects. EVAL-FARMS is especially applied and outward facing, so it makes sense to have many non-academic partners. But even a project which is entirely fundamental science would benefit from an external board of academic and other beneficiaries.
  6. We look forward to our next advisory board meeting in September 2017, as well as interactions with members of our board before then.