Project Coordinator and Research Technician for Bats and Bugs
Brief Curriculum Vitae
- 2013 - present: Project Coordinator and Research Technician for Bats and Bugs, Institute of Zoology, Wildlife Epidemiology
- 2012-2013: Research Technician (NERC funded), The Natural History Museum, London – Studying genetic mechanisms of insecticide resistance in medflies
- 2011-2012: Specimen Decant and Automation Facility Research Assistant, The Natural History Museum, Molecular Collections Facility, London – Setting up a brand new facility for the curation of genetic resources
- 2008-2011: DNA Analyst, LGC Forensics – DNA profiling for the UK’s police forces
- 2006-2007: Kings College, London – MSc Merit Forensic Science
- 2003-2006: Imperial College, London – BSc Hons Biochemistry
My main area of interest is the study of disease threats to wildlife, particularly in wildlife conservation. I have always been passionate about diagnostics and having started my scientific career in forensics, I am also interested in seeing how the techniques I learnt there can be transferred to other areas of wildlife epidemiological research. This puts me in a unique position as I have seen both sides of differential diagnosis in human-wildlife conflict, in terms of studying human interactions and how this can impact the spread of zoonotic diseases. Finally, I am also interested in seeing how laboratory techniques can improve and develop, and how these can be incorporated despite variations in resources.
I joined the Institute of Zoology in 2013, working on Bats and Bugs (formally known as the African Bat Project) as a Research Technician and Project Coordinator, alongside Prof. Andrew Cunningham at ZSL. The project works in collaboration with various external research groups, mainly from the University of Cambridge, University of Ghana and Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). The main area of my research is looking at the epidemiology of emerging zoonotic viruses in African bats, including henipaviruses, Lagos bat virus and filoviruses. My role also includes designing diagnostic assays alongside managing an extensive freezer samples archive, with over 25,000 samples across four different sites. The project is an exciting opportunity to screen for various pathogens, thus providing us with further information as to how disease outbreaks may occur. This is particularly important in regions in Africa, as the ongoing human-wildlife conflict means there are increasing opportunities for disease ‘spill-overs’ between the two different populations to occur.
As well as coordinating Bats and Bugs, I am a Research Technician at the Institute. This means my role is extended to managing the labs and resources across the Institute itself, also advising other researchers and masters students on laboratory techniques and methods.
Peniche, G., Olson, P. D., Bennett, D. J., Wong, L., Sainsbury, A. W., & Durrant, C. (2017). Protecting free-living dormice: molecular identification of cestode parasites in captive dormice (Muscardinus avellanarius) destined for reintroduction. EcoHealth, 14(1), 106-116.
Suu-Ire, R., Begeman, L., Banyard, A.C., Breed, A.C., Drosten, C., Eggerbauer, E., Freuling, C.M., Gibson, L., Goharriz, H., Horton, D.L. and Jennings, D., 2018. Pathogenesis of bat rabies in a natural reservoir: Comparative susceptibility of the straw-colored fruit bat (Eidolon helvum) to three strains of Lagos bat virus. PLoS neglected tropical diseases, 12(3), p.e0006311.