2014-2015 Committee

The 2014-2015 Committee was constituted on the Annual General Meeting on March 2014. It started its functions during a handover period supervised by the previous committee for the following two months.

Scroll down to see all the members. Click on their names for accessing their University of Southampton profiles. There you can find more information about their research and CV.



Name: Zoe M Harris

Research Status: 3rd year PhD candidate

PhD Project: My research looks at the effect of land use change to short rotation coppice (SRC) willow for bioenergy on soil carbon and greenhouse gas emissions. My PhD is mainly field –based using several environmental monitoring techniques including eddy covariance, gas sampling and soil sampling.

My Role on BSPS: My role as president involves overseeing the general running and guiding the direction and growth of the society. I am responsible for ensuring that all committee are fulfilling their roles, taking a lead on implementing policy within the society and act as the main representation of the society to SUSU, the university and any external involvements.

Fun Fact: I have named all the kit at my field site: Sir Flux-a-lot, Betty the Metty and Max Power!



Name: Emily Farthing

Research Status: 2nd year PhD candidate

PhD Project: My project investigates how plants (particularly Arabidopsis and wheat) regulate their internal manganese concentrations homeostatically. Manganese is critical for both plant and human nutrition but becomes toxic when present in excess, causing big crop yield losses under both toxicity and deficiency. Understanding how plants are able to control their manganese levels could help us to improve agricultural yields in the future.

My Role on BSPS: As vice president, my main role is to support the president and other committee members in the general running of the society.

Fun Fact: Manganese is not the same as magnesium!



Name: Annabelle Damerum

Research Status: 1st year PhD student

PhD Project: I am working towards improving lettuce by molecular breeding, focusing on increasing shelf life and nutritional quality. This provides a mixture of field, laboratory and bioinformatics work.

My Role on BSPS: As secretary, my role largely involves keeping the society running smoothly behind the scenes, organising and undertaking administrative tasks.

Fun Fact: I despise lettuce. Just kidding!



Name: James Edwards

Research Status: 1st year PhD student

PhD Project: My research involves the characterisation of mutants of uracil DNA glycosylase (UDG) with the application of selectively recognising modified cytosine residues in DNA. Modified cytosines are present in DNA as an epigenetic marker and alters our gene regulation. Currently a highly specific detection assay for these modified cytosines doesn’t exist.

My Role on BSPS: My role as treasurer is to oversee the finances of the society. I apply for funding for the society from SUSU and the graduate school and allocate our funds to events, which the society runs. I also endeavour to make sure that BSPS doesn’t owe anybody and that nobody owes BSPS.

Fun Fact: Our lab group enjoys the occasional ‘Rave Lab Friday’ where the beat drops to the rhythm of our pipettes!



Name: Miguel Ramírez

Research Status: 1st Year PhD Student

PhD Project: For my project, I am working on the broad field of circadian rhythms. Using the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, as model organism, my research tries to understand the relationship between the core molecular clock inside the brain and the regulation of actin cytoskeleton.  That means I am assaying a lot of flies for behavioural tests, but also that I take a deep look on these neurons.

My Role on BSPS: At the Media and Communications Office, it is our work to ensure you find our different social profiles active, informative and interesting. We will keep you up-to-date about society, events, grants or studentships and breaking news of the scientific community. We also make the coverage during our events, so you get nice memories and information for the next time.

Fun Fact:  Still trying to find someone who does not say “I thought they were bigger” after their first contact with Drosophila.


Name: Sebastian Shepherd

Research Status: 1st Year PhD Candidate

PhD Project: My research is looking at the effects of stressors on insect models, pests and pollinators. So far in this broad research field I have looked at the effects of electromagnetic fields on different levels from behaviour to physiology and gene expression in desert locusts. Future work is likely to involve pollinators such as honeybees with potential additional stressors including electric fields, and insecticides.

My Role on BSPS: My role as media and communications officer is essentially a scientific communication role. Alongside Miguel, I am involved in updating the societies website, Facebook and Twitter pages with information about the society, promotional material for society events, interesting scientific news and a variety of other information.

Fun Fact: Due to my work with desert locusts the society president has referred to me as locust wrangler, a nickname I could probably do without.



Name: Sarmi Sri

Research Status: 1st year PhD student

PhD Project: My project aims to understand the changes occurring at the synapse that are responsible for the early cognitive deficit observed in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease.

My Role on BSPS: As events officer my job is to organize social events along side my sidekick Ben.

Fun Fact:I am a student by day and ninja by night.

Name: Ben Yarnall

Research Status: 1st year PhD candidate

PhD Project: Using X-ray crystallography to solve the structure of a membrane protein conserved across eukaryotes.

My Role on BSPS: My chief role as events officer is to control the potentially dangerous levels of fun produced by Sarmi, handing out enjoyment timeouts when anybody’s jollification levels approach critical mass to maintain maximum merrymaking.

Fun Fact: Meat loaf is the only man alive who knows what I will not do for love.



Name: Przemyslaw Ociepa

Research Status: 2nd year PhD candidate

PhD Project: I currently work on two projects related to plant cell wall. In the first one I try to understand the action of PME and PMEI enzymes involved in modification of pectins. The second one focuses on metabolome response to cell wall damages.

My Role on BSPS: As Career and Education Officer I am responsible for the organisation of non-scientific seminar series and career workshops. I forward emails with job offers; update our career board with postdoctoral placements and funding opportunities.

Fun Fact: While working abroad, I have managed to lock myself in a cold room. No phone, almost no one in a building. As you can see, I escaped.



Name: Paul Ibbett

Research Status: 1st year PhD

PhD Project: My research investigates whether systemic inflammation can exacerbate neurodegeneration within the retina.

My Role on BSPS: To find opportunities for collaboration within and outside of the university and work together to deliver events.

Fun Fact: I can finish any quote from Friends and can name all 50 states of America in 6 minutes.



 Name: Karolina Mirowska

Research status: Fourth Year PhD (soon to be done)

PhD project:  I am working on circadian biology of a Drosophila, combining behavioural studies, neurobiology, developmental and molecular biology. My main research question is how does the state of the clock in developing Drosophila affect their behaviour as adults.

My role on BSPS: As co-PR and Sponsorship Officer I help to make sure that everyone knows who we are and what we can do for them and that they all want either to join us or collaborate with us. I am also helping with fundraising and looking for sponsors for our events.

Fun fact:   I am a part of the group which holds the current world record for the biggest number of Santa divers underwater!


Name:  Flora O’Brien

Research Status: 2nd Year PhD candidate

PhD Project: I am investigating interactions between soil microbial communities, plants and insect herbivores using a combination of ecological, molecular and microbiological approaches.

My Role on BSPS:  As co-PR and Sponsorship Officer I am responsible for organising fundraising events and sponsorship opportunities to raise money for charity and BSPS.  Events will include bake sales, fun runs, and more.

Fun Fact: Before starting my PhD, I spent a year in Costa Rica working on a conservation research project in the rainforest!



Name: Megan Sealey

Research Status: 2nd year PhD student

PhD Project: I am interested in understanding why age is such a big risk factor for diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease. I am using a Drosophila model to understand what changes occur in cells with age and how this can lead to disease associated pathology.

My Role on BSPS: I am the health and safety officer. I am responsible for ensuring we have risk assessments for all events that BSPS carries out and that these risk assessments are upheld at each event to ensure the safety of BSPS members.