Profiles and research interests of my group members.

Current members

Dr Nicola de Maio

Nicola is a James Martin Fellow at the Oxford Martin School Institute for Emerging Infections, working on the Curing Chronic Viral Infections project. He studied Mathematics at the University of Pisa (BSc and MSc). He is interested in the development and application of models of sequence evolution.

During his PhD studies, Nicola focused on Empirical Codon Models, positive selection tests, and population genetics-phylogenetic models, in the face of genome-wide data availability. He also collaborated on the development of statistical methods for pooled data, and the modelling of life history traits.

In his present research in Oxford, Nicola focuses on viral evolution. in particular, he investigates the effects of viral recombination on phylogenetic, demographic, and epidemiological analysis.

He plays basketball, soccer, and water polo, in case you need a player!

Sarah Earle

Sarah is a first year DPhil student based in the Nuffield Department of Medicine at the University of Oxford, supervised by Dr Daniel Wilson. Her work will exploit whole-genome sequencing data of Clostridium difficile to carry out whole-genome association studies, with the aim of discovering genes and genetic variants associated with differential virulence, whilst controlling for confounding factors such as population structure within models. Her DPhil is funded by an NDM Prize Studentship.

She previously studied at the University of Oxford where she completed a BA in Biological Sciences. During this time she undertook her undergraduate research project within the research group of Prof. Martin Maiden, working on the application of ribosomal multilocus sequence typing for Staphylococcus aureus.

Bernadette Young

Bernadette is a Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Fellow, based in the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust and undertaking a DPhil in the Nuffield Department of Medicine at the University of Oxford, supervised by Dr Daniel Wilson and Prof. Derrick Crook. Her work focuses on using whole genome sequencing to understand the genetic basis for variations in virulence seen in the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. This organism is frequently part of the normal human flora, particularly in the nose, but it can also cause life­threatening invasive infection.

Bernadette trained as a medical doctor at the University of Melbourne, Australia, completing her MBBS(Hons) as well as a BA (literary studies). She continued her clinical training in the UK, and is undertaking specialist training in Infectious Diseases.

She now lives in Oxford, and can be found playing the ukulele on nights off.

Dr Jessie Wu

Jessie is a postdoctoral scientist based in the Nuffield Department of Medicine at the University of Oxford. Her work focuses on developing statistical methods to investigate the genetic basis of virulence in natural populations of bacterial pathogens.

During her PhD at the University of Auckland, she focused on Bayesian approaches to model uncertainty in phylogenetics.

Claudia Lindemann

Claudia is a first year DPhil student in the Vactrain project ( at the Jenner Institute in Oxford. Under the supervision of Dr David Wyllie and Dr Daniel Wilson, she is working on Stapylococcus aureus vaccine development, using RNA sequencing to discover new antigens for potential vaccines and understand bacterial pathogenesis within the host.

Previously she did her Masters at the University of Münster in Pharmaceutical science, studying surface expression systems of heterologous proteins and a Bachelor's degree in Chemical Biology at the TU Dortmund.

In her spare time Claudia enjoys rowing, (latin) dance and theatre (watching as well as getting engaged herself).

Dr Melissa Ward

Melissa Ward is a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow, funded by the Wellcome Trust. She is working between the University of Oxford, the University of Edinburgh, the International Livestock Research Institute Nairobi and the Harvard School of Public Health.

Her work involves using pathogen genetic sequence data to understand patterns of disease transmission, with a focus on the spread of MRSA within the Scottish healthcare system and the spread of E. coli between humans and livestock in low income areas of Nairobi, Kenya.

During her PhD at the University of Edinburgh, Melissa studied the evolution of viruses such as HIV, influenza and Japanese Encephalitis. Prior to this, she completed an undergraduate degree in Mathematics at the University of Oxford.

Former members

Dr Jessica Hedge

Jess is a postdoctoral scientist working within the Nuffield Department of Medicine at the University of Oxford. She is interested in the evolutionary dynamics of measurably evolving pathogens and uses phylogenetic methods to explore a variety of evolutionary processes, including the origin and evolution of different norovirus lineages and the emergence of drug resistance in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Her work also focuses on the effects of recombination on the reconstruction of the evolutionary history of bacterial populations.

During her PhD at the University of Edinburgh supervised by Prof. Andrew Rambaut, she used Bayesian phylogenetic methods to characterise the evolution and molecular epidemiology of the 2009 influenza A H1N1 pandemic.

Dr Jane Charlesworth

Jane is a postdoc working on the MMM project, specialising in applying population genetics methods to bacterial datasets. She did a degree in genetics at the University of Edinburgh followed by a PhD in bacterial population genetics at the University of Sussex, with Adam Eyre-Walker. At the time of her PhD research, there were only six complete genomes for E. coli and Salmonella, so she is quite excited about the potential of next generation sequencing to reveal the finer details of bacterial population structure. Jane is particularly interested in detecting loci that have been under selection during both long and short-term bacterial evolution.

Aside from research, Jane is interested in education and was recently awarded a fellowship from the Software Sustainability Institute to develop materials to encourage biology students to engage with computing.

In her spare time Jane plays roller derby, writes novels, teaches children to code and cruises the canals on a narrowboat.

Dr Richard Everitt

Rich is a former Postdoctoral Scientist in the Nuffield Department for Clinical Medicine, working on the Modernising Medical Microbiology project funded by UKCRC. His background is in (mostly Bayesian) statistics and machine learning, which he used to investigate the evolution of pathogens through the study of full genomic data.

He was formerly a Brunel Fellow in Statistics in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Bristol (where he also studied for his PhD under the supervision of Prof. Peter Green). Prior to this he was a researcher at QinetiQ, specialising in target tracking, signal and image processing and classification.

Richard's primary research interests are in methodological work in Bayesian statistics, in both inference and modelling. The majority of his work on inference is in Markov chain Monte Carlo, sequential Monte Carlo and approximate Bayesian computation, with his modelling interests focussing on graphical models and non-parametrics. He has an ongoing interest in the use of computers in computational statistics.

On leaving the group, Richard took up a Lectureship at the University of Reading. You can visit his website here.

Dr Bethany Dearlove

Bethany is a former DPhil student based in the Nuffield Department of Medicine at the University of Oxford, supervised by Dr Daniel Wilson and Prof. Peter Donnelly. Her work was focussing on the genomic evolution of various pathogens as part of the Modernising Medical Microbiology Consortium, using new technology to obtain genetic information in real time. From this, the aim was to find patterns of evolution to further understand the spread and transmission of disease, particularly for three pathogens commonly acquired in hospitals.

She previously studied at the University of Reading, where she completed both her MSc. in Biometry and BSc. Mathematics and Statistics. It was here she was introduced to the concept of Forensic and Genetic Statistics by Dr. Karen Ayres, inspiring her current research interests. Bethany's Masters project focused on a forensic application of statistics, investigating techniques for familial searching in the UK National DNA Database with missing data and low copy number DNA profiles.

Whilst in Reading, she competed in synchronised swimming, and has been nationally ranked in Great Britain for a number of years - her best results coming in 2009 where she was the British silver medallist in the solo and team events, and was named the Reading Evening Post Sports Personality of the Year for Player Loyalty. In Oxford, she was more likely to be seen keeping fit by running or cycling, though still to be found on poolside coaching and choreographing routines.

Ben Umans

Ben joined the lab for the summer of 2012 to work on models of mutation and selection in bacteria as a Masters student in the Department of Statistics. A native of Chicago, he returned to the US in 2013 to begin a PhD in Genetics.