Cohort 1

Mia Ley

Interested in parasitic diseases? I’m Mia, a OneZoo student at Aberystwyth University researching novel environmental biomarkers for liver fluke control in order to improve field diagnostics and subsequently highlight risk areas for Fasciola hepatica. My undergraduate degree was in BSc Equine and Veterinary Bioscience and I’ve previously worked at VetHub1 - a containment level 2 and 3 research facility - as well as the Centre of Excellence for Bovine Tuberculosis (CBTB), both located in Aberystwyth. To follow my research, you can find me on X @miarhianneley

Santiago Gomez
Hi, my name is Santi and I’m an infectious disease epidemiologist. I hold a BSc in Biological Sciences with a Professional Training Year from Cardiff University and an MSc in Control of Infectious Diseases from the London School of Hygiene (LSHTM) and Tropical Medicine. I have previous experience working on human helminths in Ethiopia, dengue fever in Colombia and neonatal health in The Gambia. My PhD with the OneZoo CDT at LSHTM will focus on designing agricultural landscapes to minimise zoonotic disease risk in The Gambia.
Stephanie Key

Hi, I'm Steph, a OneZoo student at LSHTM, researching the pathogen community ecology of critically endangered vultures in the Gambia. Vulture populations across the globe are in catastrophic decline, but provide important ecosystem services through nutrient cycling and removing carcasses (infectious disease risks!) from the environment. I hold a BSc in Ecology & Conservation Biology from the University of Sheffield, and an MSc in One Health from LSHTM and the Royal Veterinary College. I also worked as a research assistant at LSHTM, investigating environmental drivers of infectious disease risk. I can be found on X @ecolokey.

Rebecca Pendleton
Hi, my name is Rebecca! I am a PhD student at QUB in the Maule lab with the OneZoo CDT cohort. I have a bachelor’s degree in Zoology from Trinity College Dublin and an MSc in Parasitology and Pathogen Biology from Queen’s University Belfast. My PhD project involves looking at what genes can influence parasite growth and how this can impact severity of parasitic infections. I am using liver flukes as a model parasite, monitoring their growth and stem cell activity, and potentially identifying protein biomarkers of growth to infer regional differences of parasite virulence.
Alexandra Cusmano

Hi, I’m Alex and I’m a PhD student, part of the OneZoo CDT cohort. I’m currently based at Cardiff University, where my research spans diverse disciplines, such as microbiology, geoscience, and bioinformatics. My project specifically revolves around investigating the impact of climate change on the re-emergence and evolution of anthrax in Turkey. My educational background includes a BSc in Biological Science from Florida State University and an MSc in Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases from the University of Glasgow. Complementing my academic pursuits, I have gained valuable work experience, with my most recent roles being an NHS lab scientist and a research associate in a pharma/biotech consultancy.


Thomas Roberts
Hi, I'm Tommy and I am a PhD student at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) in The Applied Genomics Centre (TAGC). I also have a BSc in Biochemistry from the University of Sussex and a MPhil in Veterinary Science from the University of Cambridge. My PhD project will see me use a wide range of disciplines to look at the genomic diversity of Salmonella in the Philippines. The goal is with the results of this work it will be possible to understand the transmission chains (how it spreads from farms/ environments to people) and what factors are causing this. As its an open ended project as why only stop with Salmonella and why only focus on the Philippines?
Ellie Oliver
Hi! I’m Ellie, a PhD student involved in the OneZoo CDT. I have a BSc in Biochemistry and a MSc in Parasitology from Queen’s University Belfast, where I will also be completing my PhD. My project revolves around Dirofilaria immitis, commonly called heartworm (HW), a zoonotic, mosquito-borne infection of dogs that can cause congestive heart failures in our canine friends. The project aims to use molecular methods to detect circulating RNAs, DNAs and proteins from HW infected dogs to make up biomarker profiles for their use in enhanced diagnostics. As well as aiming to address the risk and current status of HW in the UK using ecological approaches.
Farbod Khakpour

Hi, my name is Farbod! I’m a wildlife veterinarian and a PhD candidate of OneZoo-CDT based at Queen’s University Belfast. I have finished my Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree in Iran and completed various wildlife veterinary internships in Iran, Indonesia, and India. I used to work and volunteer as a wildlife vet for Iran’s Department of Environment in several sections of wildlife medicine, diseases, and conservation activities. I have experience in disease screening and diagnosis, necropsy, nutrition, treatment, translocation, chemical immobilization and anesthesia, rehabilitation, release, etc. in a vast diversity of globally threatened and endangered wild species. My PhD project will be focused on African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) zoonotic diseases and transmission of infectious diseases and parasites between buffalos in the protected area and surrounding communities and their livestock in South Africa.

Stephen Cheung
Hi, I’m Steve. My background focuses on the ecology and behaviour of animals primarily within aquatic environments. I have a BSc in Marine Biology from Bangor University and an MRes in Biosciences from Cardiff University, where my research ranged from coral reef ecology to the effect of microplastics on fish welfare and disease. With the OneZoo programme at Cardiff University, I’ll be investigating the impact of using pharmaceuticals to tackle zoonotic diseases using a three-pronged approach targeting their fate in the environment (Chemistry), the effects on fish (Bioscience) and suitable nature-based water treatment technology (Engineering). Find me on X @SteveJCheung.
Neha Bansal
I'm Neha, currently a OneZoo CDT student at Cardiff University. My research focuses on creating both deterministic and stochastic mathematical models that explore the transmission of viruses within indoor spaces. These models are intended to assist policymakers and indoor space managers in making informed decisions during epidemics. I have a Bachelor's degree in Pulp and Paper Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, India, and a Master's degree in Applied Mathematics from The University of British Columbia, Canada. My Master's thesis delved into characterizing the reproductive value for age-structured population models, which was applied to comprehend disease dynamics in varying environmental conditions. Prior to my Master's program, I also have six years of experience as a data science professional in the industry.
Rynhardt Le Roux
I am Rynhardt, and I hold an MSc in genetics from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, a BSc in Botany and Zoology, and a BSc Hon. in Zoology from the University of Johannesburg. My MSc looked at the conservation genetics of Hooded vultures and their taxonomic status across their pan-African distribution. I am doing my PhD as part of the OneZoo CDT at Cardiff University. My project aims to investigate the transmission and detection of avian influenza from domestic poultry to vulnerable seabird populations in the Western Cape.
Nia Weinzweig
I’m Nia, I’m a PhD student at Cardiff University and part of the OneZoo CDT. I qualified as a vet in 2011 and have worked in several countries as a volunteer and locum veterinarian. More recently I’ve worked in conservation roles in New Zealand, including monitoring of endangered endemic bird species and sea lions and invasive predator control. I completed an MSc in Ecology at the University of Otago, where I studied the parasites in a population of New Zealand sea lions living close to human populations. In Cardiff I’ll be looking at zoonotic pathogens in wildlife in Wales.
Jo Pallister
I am a Veterinary Surgeon and PhD student at Cardiff University, and part of the OneZoo CDT cohort. I completed my Bachelor of Veterinary Science at the University of Bristol in 2015 and then worked in small animal veterinary practice for over four years. I also hold a Master’s in Molecular Microbiology from the University of Bath. More recently, I worked in grant funding at the BBSRC. My PhD focuses on improving our understanding of bovine tuberculosis, for example by studying mycobacterium bovis and other mycobacterium species in the environment.
Aaron G. Canton Bastarrachea
Hi, I'm Aaron, a biologist and PhD student at Queen's University Belfast. Using a One-Health approach to detect and analyse genomic sequences of human and avian influenza A virus (IAV) in wastewater, the aim of my project is to develop a novel environmental surveillance system that will allow us to track the spread and understand the ecology of IAV, as well as identify areas of zoonotic risk in Northern Ireland. Prior to joining OneZoo, I worked as a research assistant at the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán (Mexico) and completed an MSc in Infection Biology at the University of Glasgow.
Bethan Carter

Hi, I’m Bethan. I’m a clinician specialising in medical microbiology and infectious diseases. With the support of a Wales Clinical Academic Track (WCAT) fellowship, I am currently undertaking my PhD at Cardiff University, as part of the OneZoo CDT. My PhD will explore the variations in zoonotic pathogen transmission and prevalence between the UK and Italy, two similarly sized nations but with differing climates, land types and socio-political systems. This project will utilize mathematical modelling to bring ecological analysis of zoonotic pathogen transmission together with social/political theory, developing a whole system approach to determine disease management strategies for the future.

Eleanor Collinson

Hello! My name is Eleanor Collinson, I am a guest researcher at the NIOO-KNAW researching Arthropod biodiversity, and a prospective PhD student at LSHTM. My background is Zoology (University of Glasgow: BSc.Hons) and Ecology (University of Amsterdam: MSc). My PhD research topic is: “Redefining Approaches to Mitigate Global Snakebite Burden in a Changing World: A Zoonotic Perspective”. I am looking to provide an ecological perspective on global snakebite burden, researching mitigation strategies and snake conservation priorities in a world under anthropogenic climate change. Using environmental data and ecological field work to better understand snake distribution and behaviour, coupled with community engagement to implement strategies from the ground up.

Brenda Odhiambo
I'm Brenda, a PhD student in the OneZoo CDT program at Aberystwyth University. I hold a BSc in Medical Laboratory Sciences and MSc in Molecular Biology and Bioinformatics, both from JKUAT University in Kenya. My background focussed on investigating zoonoses at the intricate human-wildlife-livestock interface, researching on Female Genital Schistosomiasis, and representing Illumina, Qiagen, and Biorad as a molecular and genomics field application specialist in East Africa. I’ll currently be working on developing low cost molecular approaches for detection of schistosomiasis and their environmental intermediate snail host, in a bid to control schistosomiasis . Let’s engage on X @brendakisia.
Maarten Vanhaverbeke
Hi my name is Maarten and I’m an infectious disease epidemiologist. I hold a Bsc / Msc in Biomedical Sciences from Ghent University and an MSc in Control of Infectious Diseases from the London School of Hygiene (LSHTM). I previously worked at the institute for public health in Belgium (Sciensano) and at the High Threat Pathogen team at the WHO Regional Office for Europe. As part of the OneZoo CDT my PhD will focus on using mathematical modelling to understand landscape level vulnerabilities in the context of zoonotic disease spillover risk on a global scale. I can be found on twitter @maartenvh.
Natasha Hands
Hi, I’m Natasha, I am a small animal veterinary surgeon and PhD student at Queen’s University Belfast, as part of the OneZoo CDT cohort. I studied my Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree at the Warsaw University of Life Sciences and completed my MSc Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. I have worked as a small animal veterinary surgeon for five years in clinical practice. My PhD project is investigating how pet movement and climate change impacts zoonotic parasite invasion into the UK.
Deborah Oladele

Meet Deborah, a Ph.D. student whose passion for bioinformatics and genomics converges with a commitment to advancing modern science and public health. Currently enrolled in the Biological Science program at Aberystwyth University under the OneZoo CDT, Deborah is embarking on a ground-breaking research journey titled "Using Cryptosporidium Genomics for Investigating Outbreaks and Disease Transmission." Her work will be dedicated to unravelling the intricate transmission dynamics and genomic diversity of Cryptosporidium, a waterborne pathogen with zoonotic origins responsible for gastrointestinal illness outbreaks. Through this research, Deborah seeks to pioneer advancements in epidemiology and pathogen control, and ultimately enhance public health strategies.