Theme 5: Immune Evasion
I am investigating the capacity for SARS-CoV-2 to evade the cellular immune system, particularly Natural Killer (NK) and CD8+ cytotoxic T cells.
Why and when did you become interested in studying immunology?
I became interested in immunology in my final undergraduate year at Cambridge – my lab project was examining how infection by a virus called human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) impacts our immune cells. I’m still doing this 30 years later!
What are your challenges?
Work/life balance. There are never enough hours in the day when there are kids and family to take care of as well as a research career.
What inspires you?
My first inspiration was biological ecosystems and I have a love of related hobbies such as birding.
What skills have you gained from outside academia that you use in your research?
While birding, I find parallels in the interactions between animals, plants, and the environment and the pathogens, cells, and tissues of the immune system. Both keep my mind sharp.
What is your passion outside of research?
Birding (or ornithology if you want to be scientific)! It requires immersion and use of all your senses. This takes me away from the stresses of working life, yet I never stop learning and finetuning my skills.
What does your average week look like?
Not sure whether any week is average. Too many different things going on!
What did 2020 mean to you?
Many challenges around home/work life and it’s not been great for my outdoor hobbies as I prefer more variety than my garden! However, it has also brought opportunities to learn. Apart from the amazing co-operation by researchers such as those in UK-CIC, it has brought into public focus the global challenges faced by humans whether it’s pandemics or climate change. I am hopeful we will all learn from it.