I completed my honours degree in microbiology and immunology at the University of Otago, New Zealand.
In 2015 I received a University of Otago Master’s Scholarship and a New Zealand Aid Agency Postgraduate Field Research Scholarship to travel to Vanuatu, a developing island nation in the south Pacific Ocean, to carry out an evaluation of an NGO water, sanitation and nutrition project. After receiving my Master of Public Health degree and working as a microbiology laboratory technician, I moved to the United Kingdom in 2017 to begin working as an immunology scientist for Public Health England (PHE).
Since I began working at PHE I have contributed to research in the area of vaccine and drug development for human tuberculosis disease. My interest in health, immunology and the tuberculosis vaccine BCG, motivated me to apply for the PhD opportunity offered by the ICVI and PHE which I began in March.
My PhD research is looking at Gamma Delta T cells in tuberculosis and cancer. I am continuing the work already undertaken by Joe Fenn by looking in depth at traits and functions of Gamma Delta T cells within the body before and after BCG vaccination, and relating this to differing susceptibilities to disease. I will also compare differing routes of BCG vaccination to investigate how these cells move from the blood to sites of disease, and the immune checkpoint markers that may interfere with their activity.
As well as undertaking research for my PhD I am contributing to the COVID-19 vaccine work being undertaking at Public Health England.
I am most grateful to the ICVI for co funding my project which I hope will make an important contribution to the knowledge of the Gamma Delta T Cell and its role in fighting cancer.