Jan Strauss, Senior Research Associate
Dr Jan Strauss
Senior Research Associate [Project Outline]
From: 2008
To: 2015
Last Updated: 2015


I obtained a German diploma degree in Biological Sciences (2008) from the University of Rostock, Germany, and a Ph.D. (2013) from the University of East Anglia (UEA), Norwich, UK, investigating the genome and transcriptome of the sea ice microalga Fragilariopsis cylindrus. During my studies I developed a high interest in the science at the interface of genetics and biological oceanography and my research interest is in the unique and diverse biology of globally important marine microalgae (phytoplankton). I am applying genomics-enabled tools (e.g. genome and transcriptome sequencing, RNA-seq, qRT-PCR, genetic transformation) in combination with biochemical approaches (e.g. Western blot, protein assays) to understand the biology of marine phytoplankton and elucidate the molecular underpinnings of their adaptation to marine environments. Since finishing my Ph.D., I have been working, as a research technician, on investigating the physiological role of the abundant sulfur compound dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) in marine phytoplankton. In my current research, as postdoctoral fellow at the School of Environmental Sciences at UEA Norwich, I am investigating the global significance of light-driven rhodopsin proton pumps in eukaryotic marine phytoplankton.

Jan is currently working as a Postdoctoral Fellow (EIPOD) at EMBL, Hamburg, Germany.

Research Interests

Marine genomics; environmental and functional genomics; adaptation to low temperature and nutrients; polar biology; biological oceanography.


Lewis Dunham, MSc Student
Lewis Dunham
MSc Student
From: 2014
To: 2015
Last Updated: 2015


Developing a CRISPR-Cas system in diatoms for genetic engineering
As part of a larger team and in collaboration with Prof. Sophien Kamoun's team at The Sainsbury Laboratory, I will create a construct to allow development of a CRIPSR-Cas type II system for genetic engineering of the model diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana. CRISPR-Cas is a RNA-guided endonuclease system, which induces double strand breaks (DSB) in target DNA, allowing repair mechanisms that induce mutations (Non-homologous end joining) and gene exchange (HR) to be employed. It is a powerful system with applications across multiple fields.

Dr Barbara (Bobbie) Lyon, NSF Post-Doctoral Research Fellow
Dr Barbara (Bobbie) Lyon
NSF Post-Doctoral Research Fellow
From: 2013
To: 2014
Last Updated: 2015

I obtained my Bachelor of Sciences degree at Arizona State University and afterwards worked for the U.S. National Ocean Services in Charleston, South Carolina, on a highly collaborative marine mammal health assessment project where I helped examine antibiotic resistance in bottlenose dolphin populations. When I returned to school to obtain my PhD in molecular and cellular biology in the Marine Biomedicine & Environmental Sciences program at the Medical University in South Carolina I began my studies on eukaryotic phytoplankton physiology. I obtained my degree in the labs of Drs. Jack DiTullio and Micheal Janech studying the sea-ice diatom Fragilariopsis cylindrus. Sea-ice algae thrive under extreme conditions, overcoming freezing temperatures that form internal ice crystals, shut-down metabolic activity, and create cell-wide oxidative stress in most organisms; but they also synthesize a sulfur compound, DMSP, that is believed to help mitigate cellular damage through its proposed antioxidant, antifreeze, and salt buffering properties. Other marine algae and salt tolerant plants also produce large amounts of this potentially important anti-stress compound which has more than 10 proposed physiologically functions. To date, the specific enzymes controlling DMSP synthesis remain unknown which prevents studies to determine the exact function(s) of DMSP production. To overcome this critical gap in knowledge protein changes associated with DMSP increases were examined in sea-ice algae and advanced protein identification techniques were used to identify candidate DMSP synthesis genes. Molecular genetic techniques are now being applied to confirm their role in DMSP synthesis and finally provide unequivocal evidence for the physiological functions of DMSP. Furthermore, algal DMSP production has global impacts on climate and biogeochemical cycles so understanding biological production is fundamental to understanding and predicting climate and biogeochemical cycles.

Bobbie is currently working at the Grice Marine Laboratory, Department of Biology, College of Charleston, South Carolina, USA.

Martin Jahn, Graduate Student Intern
Martin Jahn
Graduate Student Intern
From: September 2013
To: December 2013
Last Updated: 2014


Martin obtained his bachelor degree in Biological Sciences (majors: Microbiology, Ecology) at the University of Wuerzburg, Germany. In the context of my bachelor thesis I performed an immunological analysis of guttation fluid of Bacillus thuringiensis maize for the presence of Cry1Ab protein (Group of Prof. Steffan-Dewenter). During my masters I was involved in a NGS database project focusing on the transcriptional gene expression of the marine sponge associated candidate phylum Poribacteria (Group of Prof Hentschel Humeida). During my internship between September and December 2013 at the University of East Anglia (UEA) I worked with phytoplankton samples originating from a cruise to the Arctic Ocean. My aim was to isolate and identify different species out of these samples using methods for isolation like Single-Cell Isolation by Micropipette, Single Cell Sorting and Plating and methods for identification like 18srRNA sequencing, light microscopy and flow cytometry.

Currently Martin is at the University of Wurzburg, Germany; where he is writing his Masters theses.

Research Interests

Bioinformatics; Microbial Ecology; Plant-Microbe Interactions


Lian Ma, Visiting Professor
Lian Ma
Visiting Professor
From: April 2012
To: October 2012
Last Updated: 2012


Lian worked on establishing a protocol for chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) in the marine diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana and other diatoms.

Professor Lian Ma, College of Life Science, Yangtze University, 88 Jingmi Road, Jingzhou, Hubei, P. R. China.


Piotrek Bentkowski, PhD Student
Piotrek Bentkowski
PhD Student
Left Mock Lab: 2012
Last Updated: 2012

Before coming to UEA I studied and later worked as a research assistant in the Faculty of Biology at the University of Warsaw, Poland; where I looked at how the environment influences the behaviour and life history of fresh water zooplankton via, physiological pathways, using Daphnia as a model organism. During my undergraduate studies I became interested in hardcore theoretical ecology and later simultaneously studied biology and Computational Methods of Physics in the Faculty of Physics, UW, Polnad.
As a Ph.D. student in the School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia; I looked into how to build simple and fast, yet representative models of the genetic evolution of the prokaryotes. Previously I was focused on the problem of genome streamlining.
I used to be a member of The Earth System Modelling Group led by Professor Tim Lenton; and work with Professor Thomas Mock.

Currently I work at the University of Warsaw, Poland.

Research Interests

Theoretical fundamentals of evolution; impact of the biosphere on earth systems; linking theoretical and experimental ecology; pray-predator interactions; mathematical models as way to discover the world.

  1. Bentkowski P., Markowska M., Pijanowska J. (2010). Role of melatonin in the control of depth distribution of Daphnia magna. Hydrobiologia (DOI: 10.1007/s10750-010-0134-x)
  2. Markowska M., Bentkowski P, Kloc–Stepkowska M., Pijanowska J. (2009). Presence of melatonin in Daphnia magna. Journal of Pineal Research (DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-079X.2008.00642.x)
  3. Bentkowski P., Markowska M. (2008). Evolution of Melatonin Functions among Invertebrates. (in Polish with English summary) Kosmos 56: 276–277.

Rachel Hipkin, PhD Student
Rachel Hipkin
PhD Student
Left Mock Lab: 2012
Last Updated: 2012

I became interested in the application of genomics to investigate the marine environment during my undergraduate degree in Marine Biology with Oceanography at the National Oceanography Centre (NOC), University of Southampton. I went on to continue with my studies at the NOC carrying out a Masters of Research studying the functional role of Phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase in the coccolithophorid Emiliania huxleyi. Once completed I worked as a technician within the Plant Membrane Transporters lab of Lorraine Williams, University of Southampton supporting molecular work involved in the EU funded PHIME (Public health impact of long-term, low-level mixed element exposure in susceptible population strata) project. Using cloning methods I worked analysing the role of heavy metal transporters of Barley.
I am previously investigated the role of an unknown DNA binding protein in T. pseudonana potentially involved in growth. I utilised overexpression mutants of T. Pseudonana and analysed whole genome expression to identify gene networks associated to this unknown protein.

I am currently working at Qiagen, Fleming Way, Crawley, West Sussex, UK.

Research Interests

Biogeochemical cycling in the ocean; Algal genomics and proteomics; Gene networks; Developing molecular tools with diatoms


Chloe Turner, Undergraduate Student
Chloe Turner
Undergraduate Student
Left Mock Lab: 2012
Last Updated: 2012
Primary Supervisor: Professor Thomas Mock


I am an undergraduate student at the University of East Anglia studying Environmental Sciences and am currently doing my dissertation under the supervision of Professor Thomas Mock. For this, I am looking at cadmium toxicity on different strains of the diatom Phaeodactylum Tricornutum. I am enjoying getting to know more about the species, as well as working and observing the research in the laboratory and learning more about such an important group like diatoms in general.


Clara Martinez Perez, Erasmus Student
Clara Martinez Perez
Erasmus Student
Left Mock Lab: 2011
Last Updated: 2011


I am an Erasmus student from the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid (UAM), Spain, studying my final year of Undergraduate in Biology at UEA. My experience in a summer program at the Microbial Ecology laboratory at the Centre of Advanced studies in Blanes (CEAB, CSIC), Spain, where I worked in microbial biodiversity in alpine lakes, encouraged me to do my final year project in marine microbiology. My project is a side project to Jan Strauss PhD thesis, in which I am studying the distribution of the bacteria-like rodopsin gene found in Fragilariopsis cylindrus in marine eukaryotic phytoplankton.

Currently Clara is at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Bremen, Germany; where she is writing her Masters theses.