People

T_Mock

Professor Thomas Mock FRSB FHEA

Chair in Marine Microbiology

Guest Professor (Honorary Chair) of Ocean University of China, Qingdao

Email: T.Mock@uea.ac.uk

Biography

I obtained my MSc (1998) in Biology with emphasis on Biological Oceanography at the Christian-Albrechts University in Kiel (GEOMAR) and the PhD (2003) at Bremen University (AWI), Germany. Before joining the University of East Anglia (UEA) in 2007, most of my PostDoc research was conducted with a fellowship from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) in the School of Oceanography, University of Washington (E.V. Armbrust lab) in joint cooperation with the Biotechnology Center, University of Wisconsin (M.R. Sussman lab), USA. Before I was promoted to Professor (Personal Chair) in 2014, I was Reader (2012-2014) and had a Research Councils UK (RCUK) Academic Fellowship (2007-2012).

Research Interests

Environmental and functional genomics of marine microbial organisms; metagenomics of the upper ocean; physiological adaptation; diatom evolution and biology; photosynthesis; polar biology; biochemistry; biological oceanography.

Publications

For publications, please see the publications page.

Nigel Belshaw

Dr Nigel Belshaw

Laboratory Technician
Email: N.Belshaw@uea.ac.uk

Biography

After obtaining a degree in Biochemistry from the University of East Anglia (UEA) I studied for a PhD on the regulation of gene expression in filamentous fungi at the Institute of Food Research (IFR) in the Norwich Research Park. This project and my subsequent research were focussed on the role of chromatin structure and epigenetic modifications as regulators of gene expression. Until recently I led a team at IFR investigating the role of epigenetics in gut disease and the influence of lifestyle factors. In my current role I will be developing and utilising the CRISPR/Cas genome editing tool to understand gene function in the polar diatom Fragilariopsis cylindrus.

Thomas Birley

PhD Student

Email: t.birley@uea.ac.uk

Primary supervisor: Professor Cock van Oosterhout

Secondary supervisor: Professor Thomas Mock

Biography

I obtained an MSci from University College London in Genetics, Evolution and Environment, undertaking a research project on the evolution of Apicomplexa. I am currently employed at the Mock Lab researching a method of obtaining cell free DNA from aquatic environment using CRISPR-Cas9. In October 2019 I am due to start a PhD in phytoplankton genetics. The polar phytoplankton Fragilariopsis cylindrus has been shown to an unusual biallelic expression in response to the seasonal variation in environmental conditions. I will be researching the molecular mechanisms that that cause this, whether this is unique in F. cylindrus, and what is the significance for this on its evolution.

Longji Deng

PhD Student

Email: longji.deng@uea.ac.uk

Primary supervisor: Professor Thomas Mock

Secondary supervisor: Professor Cock van Oosterhout

Biography

I have completed my BSc and MSci degrees in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia. In my Master’s project, I explored the impact of ocean acidification and iron limitation in the diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana. In my Ph.D. project at UEA, I will apply a combination of reverse genetics, transcriptomics and metatranscriptomics to explore the biochemical function of proton-pumping Rhodopsin proteins in diatoms.

 

Simin Gao

Ph.D. student

Email: simin.gao@uea.ac.uk

Primary supervisor: Dr. Nikolai Pedentchouk

Secondary supervisor: Prof. Thomas Mock

Supervisor at SUSTech (China): Dr. Xinxin Li

Biography

I have received my MSc in Marine Biology at the Tongji University (China), where I studied membrane lipids of deep sea Archaea (glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraether). In my masters project, I was applying organic geochemistry methods to identify the differential archaeal carbon molecules. In my Ph.D. project at UEA and SUSTech, I will study is sea-ice dynamics in the Holocene using algal biomarkers. This is a splite-site Ph.D. programme between University of East Anglia (UEA) and Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech). I am going to culture sea-ice algae under different conditions in the laboratory, extract specific organic molecules and determine their stable isotope characteristics of both natural and cultured sea-ice algal biomarkers.

 

 

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Reuben Gilbertson

Ph.D. Student

Email: r.gilbertson@uea.ac.uk

Primary Supervisor: Professor Thomas Mock

Secondary Supervisor: Professor Cock van Oosterhout

Team member: Dr. Amanda Hopes

Biography

I graduated from the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW), in July 2017 with a degree in Marine Biology. During my undergraduate studies at UNCW, I served as a research intern at the Sea Turtle Protection Program, Bald Head Island, North Carolina, where I studied epibiotic communities on the carapaces of nesting sea turtles. As an undergraduate, I became increasingly fascinated in marine phytoplankton, specifically diatoms, and their ability to adapt to different environmental conditions. Following graduation I returned home to the UK, working first as Research Assistant within a team at the University of Cambridge studying gene expression and methylation patterns in neonatal and adult stem cells. I then moved to begin my graduate studies at UEA where I am currently in the first year studying for my PhD with Professor Mock. The focus of my research is the use of reverse gene editing methods to further understand the adaptive evolution of the model polar diatom Fragilariopsis cylindrus.

 Research Interests

Diatoms, genome editing, polar science, adaptive evolution, genomics, molecular biology

Amanda Hopes

Dr. Amanda Hopes

Post-Doctoral Researcher
Email: a.hopes@uea.ac.uk

Biography

I finished my PhD in Thomas Mock’s group in 2017, working on developing new molecular tools for diatoms and investigating the function of a gene potentially involved in regulating silica metabolism in the polar diatom Fragilariopsis cylindrus. During this time, I developed a transformation system for F. cylindrus, CRISPR-Cas using a Golden-Gate approach for gene-editing in the model diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana and started development of an Inverse yeast 1-hybrid system for F. cylindrus.

Prior to my PhD I worked for a biotechnology company for four and half years as a researcher, developing molecular clinical diagnostic tools.

Following my PhD I started a short- term NRP Post-Doc investing protein regulation in T. pseudonana through ribosome profiling and adapting codon usage using CRISPR-driven homologous recombination developed in the Mock lab.

I have just started my second Post-Doc with Thomas researching the molecular underpinnings of adaptive evolution in polar diatoms.

Research Interests

Functional genomics; molecular biology; diatoms/algae; silica metabolism; gene and protein regulation, evolution, polar biology.

Publications

Hopes, A., Nekrasov, V., Belshaw, N., Grouneva, I., Kamoun, S., Mock, T. 2017. Genome Editing in Diatoms Using CRISPR-Cas to Induce Precise Bi- allelic Deletions. Bio-protocol, 7(23).

Hopes, A., Thomas, D.N. and Mock, T., 2017. Polar Microalgae: Functional Genomics, Physiology, and the Environment. In Psychrophiles: From Biodiversity to Biotechnology (pp. 305-344). Springer International Publishing.

Hopes, A., Nekrasov, V., Kamoun, S. and Mock, T., 2016. Editing of the urease gene by CRISPR-Cas in the diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana. Plant methods, 12(1), p.49.

Hopes A., Mock, T. 2015. Evolution of Microalgae and Their Adaptations in Different Marine Ecosystems. eLS (DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0023744).

Hopes A. & Mock T. (2014) Diatoms: Glass-dwelling dynamos. Microbiology Today :41(1), 20-23.

 

Xuewei Mao

Ph.D. Student (CSC Fellowship)

Email: Xuewei.Mao@uea.ac.uk

Primary Supervisor: Prof. Thomas Mock

Secondary Supervisor: Prof. Cock van Oosterhout

External Joint Supervisors:

Huan Zhang (University of Connecticut)

Guangxing Liu (Ocean University of China)

Yunyun Zhuang (Ocean University of China)

Biography

I graduated from Ocean University of China (OUC) with a Bachelor's and Master’s degree. During my graduate study, I have conducted research on the effects of ocean acidification on the growth of two diatom species Phaeodactylum tricornutum and Chaetoceros curvisetus. In 2016, I started my PhD at OUC, majoring in environmental sciences. I mainly focus on understanding the molecular mechanisms on harmful algae and  their strategies to cope with eutrophication and climate change. In 2018, I have been awarded a scholarship from the China Scholarship Council (CSC) to pursue my research in the lab of Thomas Mock in collaboration with Yunyun Zhuang from OUC. I will apply molecular methods (e.g. RNAseq, RT-qPCR, CRISPR/Cas mediated genome editing) to investigate nitrogen uptake and assimilation in the dinoflagellate species Alexandrium pacificum. 

Research Interests

Molecular Ecology of Phytoplankton, Harmful Algal Blooms, Dinoflagellates, Algal Transcriptomics, Genome Editing

Dr. Maria Luisa Sánchez Montes

Post-Doctoral Researcher

Email: M.Sanchez-Montes@uea.ac.uk

Biography

I am a climate and environmental scientist specialised in biogeochemical and geochemical analyses. In Prof. Thomas Mock’s lab I will be conducing modern sea-ice culturing experiments to understanding their chemical fingerprints (highly branched isoprenoids (HBIs) and HBI-specific stable isotopes) and use them for novel past sea-ice dynamic assessment. This project is done in collaboration with the University of Plymouth and funded by the Leverhulme Trust.

Before joining Thomas’ lab, I was a Researcher at Durham University reconstructing past climates and environments at different locations around the globe. In 2018 I was awarded a PhD in ice sheet-ocean-climate interactions from Durham University, UK. My PhD focussed on lipid biomarker and stable isotope analyses of marine sediments from the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Expedition 341 to the Gulf of Alaska to understand the onset and evolution of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet and associated mechanisms of glaciation.

Publications

Sánchez-Montes, M. L., McClymont, E. L., Lloyd, J. M., Müller, J., Cowan, E. A., and Zorzi, C.: Late Pliocene Cordilleran Ice Sheet development with warm Northeast Pacific sea surface temperatures, Climate Past Discussions, https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2019-29

Monica  Pichler

Ph.D. Student

Email: M.Pichler@uea.ac.uk
Primary Supervisor: Professor Thomas Mock
Secondary Supervisor: Dr Nicola Patron (Earlham Institute)

Team members: Dr. Amanda Hopes

Biography

I have completed my Master in Geobiology and Paleobiology, with an emphasis on Geomicrobiology, at the University of Munich. Through my research projects I have gained experience in high-throughput sequencing and bioinformatics for bacterial and eukaryotic diversity studies. For my PhD project at UEA, I apply ribosome profiling to reveal how temperature, which is one of the most important growth factors, affects translation in diatoms. Furthermore, I use CRISPR/Cas9 in combination with ribosome profiling to provide insights how codon usage, tRNA abundance and tRNA- derived small non-coding RNAs impact protein synthesis in the model diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana under changing environmental conditions.

Publications

Pichler M et al., 2018.  A 16S rRNA gene sequencing and analysis protocol for the Illumina MiniSeq platform. Microbiology Open https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/mbo3.611

 

Dr. Krisztina Sarkozi

Post-Doctoral Researcher
Email: k.sarkozi@uea.ac.uk

Biography

Driven by my interest in the environment, I completed a degree in Biology and Chemistry followed by a Master’s degree in Ecology at the University of Oradea in Romania. After spending seven years in Romania’s educational system, I have embarked upon a PhD in marine environmental genetics at the UEA. My research project focused on identifying the molecular underpinnings of bloom formation in marine diatoms. I combined genomics, biochemical and bioinformatics approaches with the aim of elucidating the genomic binding sites of cell-cycle regulatory proteins with emphasis on a DNA-binding protein, which appears to induce fast growth in the diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana and other centric diatoms. After completing my PhD, I did a PostDoc focusing on metabolic engineering of diatoms including the synthesis of high-value lipids such as omega-3 long chain fatty acids.

Research Interests

Algal genomics, proteomics, ecology, bioinformatics

Dr. Andrew Toseland

Post-Doctoral Researcher
Email: Andrew.Toseland@earlham.ac.uk

Biography

My degree in Software Engineering at UWE Bristol focused on Object Oriented design and programming in Java. My main interests lay in Computer Science topics, particularly machine learning, which was the focus of my final year project. My PhD is focused on a computational analysis of marine eukaryote metatranscriptome data using Perl and published bioinformatics tools to develop an analysis pipeline.

Research Interests

Eukaryotic marine metatranscriptomics; genome assembly; high-throughput sequencing.

Selected publications:

Toseland A., Daines S. J., Clark J. R., Kirkham A., Strauss J., Uhlig C., Lenton T. M., Valentin K., Pearson G. A., Moulton V., Mock T. (2013) The impact of temperature on marine phytoplankton resource allocation and metabolism. Nature Climate Change
(DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1989)

Toseland A., Moxon S., Mock T., Moulton V. (2014) Metatranscriptomes from diverse microbial communities: assessment of data reduction techniques for rigorous annotation. BMC Genomics (DOI: 10.1186/1471-2164-15-901)

 

Kara Martin

Kara Martin

PhD Student
Email: K.Martin@uea.ac.uk
Primary Supervisor: Professor Vincent Moulton (School of Computing)
Secondary Supervisor: Professor Thomas Mock
Dr Richard Leggett (The Genome Analysis Centre)

Biography

Bioinformatics approaches for assessing the impact of temperature on eukaryotic phytoplankton

I graduated from the University College Dublin (UCD) with a degree in Science, majoring in Microbiology in 2011. My final year project was 'Investigating the role of sigma factor in physiology of Rhodococcus equi.' I then went to pursue a masters and graduated with a MSc. in Bioinformatics from University of Leicester in 2012. My final year project for my masters was 'In silico mining for microsatellites'. I gained research experience in bioinformatics at the National Institute for Cellular Biotechnology (NICB). The role involved statistical analysis of microarray data generated from colorectal cancer samples conducted within the R/Bioconductor software environment.

I am currently in my first year of my PhD. My project is "Bioinformatics approaches for assessing the impact of temperature on eukaryotic phytoplankton".

Emma Langan

PhD Student
Email: emma.langan@uea.ac.uk
Primary Supervisor: Professor Thomas Mock
Secondary Supervisors: Dr Richard Leggett (Earlham Institute)
Professor Vincent Moulton (School of Computing)
Dr Clara Manno (British Antarctic Survey)

Biography

I studied Infectious Diseases with a focus on microbiology at the University of Edinburgh and graduated in 2015.  My honours project was genetic identification of zoonotic trypanosomiasis strains in cattle, which sparked my interest in genomics and bioinformatics.  I completed an MSc in Bioinformatics, also at the University of Edinburgh, in 2017.  My MSc research project mainly involved genome assembly and analysis, I also created a genomic database and browser and performed DNA sequencing using the Nanopore MinION portable real-time long read sequencer.  In October 2017 I moved to Norwich to begin a PhD at the UEA.  My project is focussed on using the Nanopore MinION for real-time metagenomic sequencing of polar ocean samples to monitor polar microbe populations.