January 2021
« Jan    


Key people in Systems Biology


Professor Murray Grant

Professor of Plant Molecular Biology, School of Biosciences. Theme leader for Systems Biology research theme.

Research interests in the field of molecular plant pathology. His group applies genome-based technologies (transcriptomics, interaction and expression proteomics, metabolic profiling and real-time imaging) to understand the dynamics of four fundamental and interrelated aspects of Arabidopsis-Pseudomonas interactions; plant innate immune responses, resistance mechanisms underlying classical gene-for-gene recognition, and early signalling events underlying systemic immunity.

peter_ashwinProfessor Peter Ashwin

Professor of Mathematics, School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics

Research interests include the mathematical modelling of emergent dynamical behaviour in complex nonlinear systems, especially for coupled cell networks and transport and pattern formation problems in other systems biology applications. Professor Ashwin also works on simple models of coupled neurons that can give rise to complex (heteroclinic) spatio-temporal encoding and finite-state computing.

Peter_coxProfessor Peter Cox

Met Office Chair in Climate System Dynamics, School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics. Theme leader for Climate Change and Sustainable Futures

Research interests revolve around the coupling between terrestrial ecosystems and climate, including climate-carbon cycle feedbacks, the role of biodiversity in ecosystem resilience to environmental change, and the possibility of climate-driven dieback of the Amazonian rainforest.

tamara_gallowayProfessor Tamara Galloway

Professor of Ecotoxicology, School of Biosciences

My research focuses on understanding how organisms adapt and survive in polluted environments. Our group takes an integrated approach to detecting and understanding the mechanisms by which pollutants damage living systems. We are using this knowledge to develop a predictive capability of the likely outcome of pollutants impacting on natural populations. Our research on fish and invertebrates has universal application in providing models of disease processes and the ways in which environmental factors contribute to human health conditions.

nic_harmerDr Nic Harmer

Senior Lecturer in Structural Chemistry, School of Biosciences

Research interests include understanding the pathways by which bacteria produce their polysaccharides, the regulating factors of biosynthesis and using synthetic biology and systems biology to help efficiently generate new biomolecules in cells.


Dr Yulan He

Lecturer in Computing, School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics

Related research is investigating statistical models for relation extraction from biomedical literature, such as protein-protein interactions and gene-disease relationships and working on associative classification from gene expression data and relating text mining with gene expression analysis.


Dr Ed Keedwell

Lecturer in Computer Science, School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics

Research has focussed on the application of artificial intelligence techniques (e.g. (multi-objective) genetic algorithms, neural networks) to the problems of classification and gene regulatory network construction using gene expression data. Dr Keedwell has also supervised work with the Peninsula School of Medicine and Dentistry using nature-inspired techniques to find important SNPs from large scale diabetes data.

jenny_littlechildProfessor Jenny Littlechild

Professor of Biological Chemistry and Director of Exeter Biocatalysis Centre, School of Biosciences

Research interest in the area of proteomics with specific expertise in protein structure and function and the control of oxidative stress in the human body by studying the genes, protein complexes and their cellular location in diseased tissues.


Dr Eduarda Santos

Lecturer in Environmental Biology, School of Biosciences

Dr Santos is part of a group of Exeter scientists developing strategies to elucidate the molecular pathways controlling reproductive development and function in fish and determining their susceptibility to disruption by environmental stressors. She focusses on the transcriptomic changes in the gonads induced by environmental oestrogens that reduce fertility in zebrafish (Danio rerio). Further work investigates the impact of exposure to environmental chemicals on stickleback, a sentinel fish species inhabiting British waters. This will expand to explore further the regulatory networks for sexual development and function, in collaboration with Professor Tyler, Dr van Aerle and Dr Kudoh.

nick_smirnoffProfessor Nick Smirnoff

Professor of Plant Biochemistry, School of Biosciences

Research includes the systems biology approach to identifying pathogen and abiotic stress response transcriptional networks in Arabidopsis thaliana, metabolomics using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS), identifying plant response networks to stress and pathogens and identifying metabolic networks using interspecific crosses between Arabidopsis halleri and A. petraea.

Orkun S

Dr Orkun Soyer

Lecturer in Systems Biology, School of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences

I am interested in understanding the structure and response dynamics of molecular systems (eg signalling networks) from an evolutionary perspective. In other words, I am after evolutionary and ecological principles that can explain the structure and dynamics of biological systems at molecular level. Ultimately, deciphering these principles will lead to a global rather than system specific understanding of biological systems. Further, this evolutionary research angle will increase our ability to manipulate existing biological systems and design novel ones.


Professor Nick Talbot

Professor of Molecular Genetics. Head of the School of Biosciences.

Research in the laboratory is aimed at understanding the molecular basis of plant disease. The research group works primarily on plant pathogenic fungi and in particular the economically important rice blast fungus Magnaporthe grisea as a model organism for understanding pathogenicity. Rice blast is the most serious disease of cultivated rice and therefore knowledge gained about this fungus can be applied to a disease of critical importance to the global food supply.


Professor Rick Titball

Professor of Molecular Biology, School of Biosciences

Research interests include mapping and understanding patterns of expression of virulence factors in human pathogens after they infect a human (or animal surrogate) host by looking at the host immune responses to proteins which are expressed in infected humans.


Professor Stuart Townley

Professor of Mathematics, School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics

Stuart Townley brings to systems biology a wide modelling background which includes: infinite-dimensional dynamical systems, robust and adaptive control, and applications of control systems techniques to invasion biology, bio-reactor control and neural networks. He believes that feedback control theory and systems engineering are well suited for modelling biological processes withinand across all scales of organisation. For example, he is developing control systems approaches aimed at understanding and quantifying feedback interactions between environmental stresses and selection pressures.

charles_tylerProfessor Charles Tyler

Professor in Environmental Biology, School of Biosciences

Much of the research in Professor Tyler’s team is focused on understanding the impacts of environmental contaminants, including complex mixtures, on the physiology and behaviour of fish and the implications of these effects for fish populations. Their work includes the use of genomic and post genomic tools, modelling approaches, laboratory exposures and field studies.


Dr Ronny van Aerle

NERC Research Fellow, School of Biosciences

Dr van Aerle is a reproductive biologist with a strong interest in fish reproduction and comparative aspects of the regulation of puberty in vertebrates. He employs a systems biology approach using techniques ranging from histopathology and protein chemistry to comparative genomics and transcriptomics to unravel the complex pathways that regulate reproductive development in fish and how these are disrupted by environmental chemicals. His research led to the discovery of the first non-mammalian kisspeptin pathway in fish and demonstrated that this novel pathway is involved in the control of puberty in fish, highlighting a potentially important target for disruption of puberty by environmental stressors.

mark_van_der_giezenDr Mark van der Giezen

Senior Lecturer in Evolutionary Biochemistry, School of Biosciences

Lab research focuses on understanding the role unusual mitochondria play in various anaerobic eukaryotic protists, mainly pathogens. By using whole genome data and/or EST data, Dr van der Giezen can reconstruct mitochondrial metabolic pathways to reveal the role organelles play in the organism’s biochemistry.


Dr Ron Yang

Senior Lecturer in Bioinformatics, School of Biosciences

Research includes integrating molecules into pathways and associating pathways with functions so as to facilitate the annotation of unknown molecules; study the complex interplay between pathways and make reliable predictions.