I became interested in structural biology as an undergraduate at the University of Oxford. This led me to start a PhD in 1999 with Venki Ramakrishnan at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge where I worked on the X-ray crystal structures of the small (30S) ribosome subunit bound to antibiotics.
In 2003 I moved to San Francisco for a postdoc with Ron Vale at the University of California. There I started working on dynein, a motor protein that moves many different cargos along filaments called microtubules inside our cells. My colleagues and I used single molecule fluorescence, biophysics and X-ray crystallography to work out how dynein uses the energy from hydrolysing ATP to move along microtubules.
I moved back to Cambridge in 2010 to start my group at the MRC LMB. We started working on human dynein and were one of two groups to discover how it is activated by a combination of its cofactor complex (dynactin) and a set of adaptors that link it to cargos. We subsequently used the new high-resolution capabilities of cryo-electron microscopy to understand how dyneins bind dynactin and how together they recognise different cargo adaptors.
I first joined Clare in 2002 as a Junior Research Fellow and on returning from the USA rejoined in 2010 as an overall Director of Studies for 1A Natural Sciences (Biology). In 2022 I became an Admissions Tutor for Sciences.