I am a structural biologist in the Faculty of Natural Sciences. My group works on a variety of fascinating problems related to different aspects of the replication of RNA viruses such as foot-and-mouth disease virus and the dreaded norovirus (the winter vomiting bug). We mainly use X-ray crystallography to determine the structures of proteins molecules, to shed new light on how they work. Our current projects include structural analysis of host-virus protein interactions that are crucial to initiate translation of the viral RNA, the process by which new viral proteins are synthesised in infected cells. We are also interested in the viral enzymes produced once translation gets going. Most recently we have been the NS6 protease from the mouse norovirus (wich is very similar to its human counterpart) and the role of an unusual norovirus protein, VPg, in translation initiation.
From 2011-15 I was Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Life Sciences. Although currently on sabbatical, my main teaching activities are usually in the undergraduate degree program in Biochemistry. I am also involved in postgraduate teaching on Masters courses (e.g. MRes in Structural Biology) and PhD student supervision.
My research and teaching interests are combined with a strong interest in exploring the wider role of science in society using a variety of media. I have made and presented a number of science videos. I also write regularly about science and the scientific life in the Guardian and on my Reciprocal Space blog.
et al., 2016, The RNA Helicase eIF4A Is Required for Sapovirus Translation, Journal of Virology, Vol:90, ISSN:0022-538X, Pages:5200-5204
et al., 2016, A Conserved Interaction between a C-Terminal Motif in Norovirus VPg and the HEAT-1 Domain of eIF4G Is Essential for Translation Initiation, Plos Pathogens, Vol:12, ISSN:1553-7366
et al., 2016, Crystal structure of the 3C protease from Southern African Territories type foot-and-mouth disease virus 2, Peerj, Vol:4, ISSN:2167-8359