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Working Group

Prof Nabeel Affara (Chair)


Dr Heike Laman (AthenHeike Lamana Swan Gender Champion)

I graduated from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida and pursued a PhD in Microbiology and Immunology at Columbia University in New York City, working with David Shore on transcriptional silencing in yeast. In 1997 I moved to London to work at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund on the control of DNA replication by oncogenic cyclins with Nic Jones and Gordon Peters. I then moved to the Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research at University College London to work with Chris Boshoff on the regulators of herpesvirus-encoded cyclins.   

In 2005 I joined the Department of Pathology to establish my independent research group focusing on the biology and therapeutic targeting of ubiquitin ligases in cancer and Parkinson's disease.  I am now a Senior University Lecturer in the Division of Cancer and Genetic Disease and a Fellow of Clare College, where I am Director of Studies for Pathology and Genetics.  

I have been part of the Athena SWAN Working Group starting in 2013, and am now the Gender Champion for the Department, charged with coordinating the implementation of the action plan outlined in our Bronze Award. I am very much looking forward to bringing about the structural and cultural changes needed to promote and progress women and minority groups in our Department.


Pauline Essah

Dr Pauline Essah

Pauline joined the Department in 2009. She manages the University-wide Cambridge Africa-Programme and hence oversees a team of coordinators and initiatives across a wide range of subject areas (including the Wellcome Trust-Cambridge Centre for Global Health Research) that link up researchers in Cambridge and Africa for mutually beneficial collaborations and to provide capacity building opportunities for African researchers. Pauline is also a member of the University’s InterConnect Steering Group that oversees the University’s work on race, equality and cultural inclusion. She was a graduate student and post-doctoral scientist at the University of Cambridge before redirecting her career to focus on research project management. Pauline is married with two young children.


Jessica Fitzgibbon

Dr Jessica Fitzgibbon



Following an enjoyable PhD in molecular plant biology at the University of Edinburgh, I chose to move away from research and I now specialise in scientific safety. I’ve been in post as the Department’s Safety Co-ordinator since 2013 and my role in the Athena Swan Working Group is to represent assistant and support staff.




Ben Skinner

Dr Ben Skinner

I joined Nabeel Affara's molecular genetics group in the department after completing a PhD on avian genomics at the University of Kent to learn more about genome scale technologies and high-throughput genomics. I work on the structure, organisation and evolution of mammalian genomes, with a focus on the sex chromosomes; recent projects have included the packaging of chromatin during murine spermatogenesis, and the sequencing and assembly of the pig Y chromosome. I joined the Athena SWAN Working Group in 2014 to represent postdocs, and also co-chair the departmental Postdoc Committee.



Dr Nerea IrigoyenNerea Irigoyen

After obtaining a degree in Pharmacy at the University of Navarra (Spain), I carried out a PhD at the National Centre for Biotechnology (CNB-CSIC, Madrid) under the supervision of Dr José Francisco Rodríguez Aguirre and Dr José Ruiz Castón where I studied and gained practical knowledge of structural aspects of viral capsids. Wishing to extend my knowledge in mechanisms of viral translation and virus gene expression, I joined Dr Ian Brierley’s laboratory (Division of Virology, University of Cambridge) as a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow. Since October 2010, I have been trying to understand the implication of frameshifiting and readthrough in retro- and coronaviruses and applying the novel technique of ribosome profiling to RNA viruses like coronaviruses, HIV, flu, etc.

As a female scientist I have also experimented how difficult can sometimes be to progress to senior roles in Academia, therefore I decided to join the Athena Swan Working Group at the Department of Pathology. I hope we will be able to work towards the advancement of gender equality in higher education and research.


Julia MuenznerMs Julia Muenzner

I am currently working with Stephen Graham at the Division of Virology as a Wellcome Trust PhD student in Infection and Immunity. My research interest is the egress of enveloped viruses and I investigate interactions between viral and host proteins using unbiased screening methods, X-ray crystallography and biophysical techniques. Previously, I studied at the University of Bonn (Germany) for a BSc in Molecular Medicine and spent a year at Dartmouth College (USA) working with Ekaterina Pletneva on the characterization of intramolecular dynamics of cytochrome c upon binding to cardiolipin. I live together with my partner and our young baby and represent student and early career researchers in the Athena Swan Working Group.


Alison CookMrs Alison Cook - Departmental Secretary (Academic Services), Pathology

I joined the University in March 2013 and moved to my current role at Pathology in May 2016.  After graduating with a BA Hons in English Literature and History of Art I held a number of project management roles, including spending a year in Hong Kong, and then completed an MBA at the University of Bath in 2002.  Since then, I have held a number of roles within the private and public sectors, including the Police, civil service and local and regional government, mostly relating to the delivery of strategic projects, economic development and business change.


Gillian Fraser

Dr Gillian Fraser

On graduating from the University of Glasgow with a BSc in Microbiology in 1993, I joined the Department as a postgraduate research student in Colin Hughes' lab. After completing my PhD studies and a short post-doc, I was awarded a Wellcome Trust International Prize Travelling Research Fellowship to work on bacterial flagella biogenesis in the laboratory of Robert Macnab at Yale. In 2002, I returned to the Department to complete my fellowship and take up a University Lectureship in Cellular and Molecular Microbiology. I'm now a Senior University Lecturer and Head of the Division of Microbiology & Parasitology. I'm also the Niccoli Fellow in the Natural Sciences at Queens' College, where I'm Director of Studies for biology.

I joined the Athena SWAN working group in 2014 and was heavily involved in preparing the submission and action plan for the Department's 2015 Bronze Award. The working group is now implementing the action plan and I'm hopeful that this will have a positive impact on the Department's culture and, in particular, the progression of women and other under-represented groups into senior academic positions.


Colin Crump

Dr Colin Crump

I graduated from the University of Bristol with a BSc in Biochemistry in 1995, and then undertook a PhD in George Banting's laboratory at the University of Bristol in membrane traffic research. After completing my PhD in 1999 I was awarded a Wellcome Trust International Prize Travelling Research Fellowship to work on the role of membrane trafficking proteins in herpesvirus assembly in Gary Thomas' laboratory at the Vollum Institute, Oregon Health and Science University. I returned to the UK in 2002 and joined the Department of Pathology to continue my research on herpesvirus assembly in Tony Minson's laboratory and I was awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship to establish my independent research group in 2005. I took up a University Lectureship in the Department in 2012 and I was promoted to University Senior Lecturer in 2016. I am also a Fellow and Director of Studies at Robinson College. I have been a member of the Athena SWAN working group since 2014.

Mr Alan Kirby