Master and Undergraduate Students

My name is Clara Castelló, I am 23 years old and I am from Spain. When I got my bachelor’s degree in Biology, I decided to hold over my studies in order to do a practical training related with lab research. I requested a position in Dr Giorgio Gilestro’s Lab and came to the Imperial College of London as an exchange student for 6 months. I have always been interested in Genetics, and my Project here is directed to elucidate the genetic components of sleep through the study of Drosophila melanogaster sleep‐mutants and their disorders; specifically, I have been working on the overexpression of a group of genes that might be involved in sleep regulation. In parallel, I have also been testing the sleep pattern of several learning-mutants that may have altered neurological pathways related to sleep. During the time I have been here I have learnt several Molecular Biology techniques and also behavioral analysis methodologies, and I am really happy to have had the opportunity of knowing how a Research group does actually work like.
Michelle Antoni
I am currently in the third year of my undergraduate degree in Biochemistry. My final year project is about sleep in molluscs. I am involved in developing an assay which would detect if land snails sleep! I find sleep a fascinating research topic and would like to learn more about its evolution and function’.
polaroid_shaun_small Shaun Hurley

I am in the final year of my Biochemistry degree and I’m currently doing my final year project in the Gilestro lab. In particular, I’m testing out a new 3D-printed habituation assay arena, which is designed to assay olfactory memory in fruit flies. If I get time I will also be able to study the effect that sleep has on this type of memory. I am very interested in neuroscience in general and hope to go on to study more about sleep and learning.
Tahira Abdall-Razak
I have lived in London since I was 1. I did my undergrad in Bioengineering at Imperial College and then followed it up with an MSc in Computing Science because I wanted to strengthen my programming skills. In my spare time I enjoy doing puzzles such as sudoku and nonograms. I am also a keen football fan, and support Arsenal.
Co-supervisor: Aldo Faisal, Dept. of Bioengineering
My name is Alan Zucconi and I am currently attending a Master of Research in Advanced Computing at Imperial College London. In the last years I spent time designing and developing potentially innovative applications. More recently, I started working as an independent game developer. Computer Science, especially in terms of programming and software design is a great passion that has also become my work. I am also interested in Biology, a fascinating area that could be strongly connected with Computer Science. My research is currently focused on behavioural analysis in Drosophila melanogaster, under the supervision of Dr Aldo Faisal and Dr Giorgio Gilestro. My objective is to design a fruit flies simulator able to reproduce a subset of the vast behaviours that fruit flies may exhibit. For the future, I would like to continue conducting research and to develop independent applications to experiment and realise new ideas.
My name is Chin Yee Shim and I am undertaking my MRes in Experimental Neuroscience. I am quite curious to research about sleep, and Dr. Giorgio Gilestro has kindly offered me to do my second rotation project in his lab. Currently, I am investigating how sleep and ageing affects the simple memory of fruit flies. It is utterly fascinating to observe fruit fly behaviour when they remembered what they were taught to do, or not if they did not have a good night’s sleep! This is my first time working with a model organism and employing behavioural biology techniques – so far it has been insightful and certainly adds to my neuroscience education.
My name is Jun Liu, a master student in MRes Biochemistry at Imperial College London. At present, I am working on my first project rotation about olfactory habituation in sleep deprived D. melanogaster, which I think is interesting and familiar with what I have done about behaviors of treefrogs. Working with Dr. Giorgio and other lab members really gains my knowledge of neuroscience and improve my skills as well. And… I am a photographer about wildlife and landscape, and a fiction writer during off hours too. I enjoy the feeling of transporting myself to another wonderful world with my readers.
My name is Negar Afshar. I have done my undergraduate studies in Queen Mary University of London in the field of Genetics. Throughout my undergraduate studies I became very interested in Neuroscience and having some experience with D.melanogaster, I decided to apply to do a UROP for a period of six months with Dr Gilestro. I will be working on the function of allnighter gene on regulation of sleep which is very exciting as I get to learn and use both behavioural and molecular biology techniques. This field is very different to what I have done before which was looking at the metal metabolism, specifically zinc, in D.melanogaster. I know that this will be a very good and exciting experience and also very useful for when I start my master’s in Neuroscience.
My name is Wee Hon Ang and I am doing my second rotation of the MRes Biomedical Research course with Dr. Gilestro. I am from Singapore and I did my undergraduate study in Physiology at King’s College London. This project with Dr. Gilestro is very different from the past few projects that I did, which are mainly in the area of neurophysiology, exercise and muscle physiology. Although I know it will be difficult to start a project in an area that I am unfamiliar with, I still chose this project as I find the topic very intriguing. Besides that, I am looking forward to learn more techniques and skills in Biomedical Research which will benefit me in the future. At my free time, I do exercises like running, cycling and playing basketball. I also enjoy watching movies, musicals and variety shows.
Hi! I’m Helena Perez, and I’m currently a Biochemistry with a Year in Research student about to do my placement year, so I decided to do a UROP this summer. I am interested in neuroscience and I am very keen to learn what working in a real lab is like. My project is a study on how sleep affects learning in Drosophila melanogaster, one of the most important organisms in Biochemistry research. I hope to learn a lot more about neuroscience research and about bioinformatics, another area that I’m very interested in.
My name is Lin Zhang and I am doing my MSc individual project with Dr Gilestro and Dr Stefanos Zafeiriou. My project investigates the realtime tracking system of Drosophila. I am from China and the picture was taken at my hometown – Wuhan. The river behind me is the famous Yangtze River.
My name is Katarzyna Petrus and I am currently in my second year of Biotechnology doing a UROP placement at Dr Gilestro’s lab. Throughout the summer I will be investigating the influence of ethanol on sleep in Drosophila melongaster in a joint project with another Biochemistry student. Thanks to this placement I will learn how the work in a research lab actually looks like, enhance the laboratory skills that I gained during my degree and further develop my interest in Neuroscience.
My name is Anum Shahid Niaz. I am a second year biochemist at Imperial College London currently doing a UROP project at Dr Gilestro’s Lab. I find the link and similarity between Drosophilla and human sleep patterns extremely interesting. During this project we will be looking at learning and memory with respect to sleep by exposing Drosophila to ethanol and investigating their habituation over a period of time. A fascinating concept is the difference in sleep patterns of male and female flies and their varying tolerance to ethanol. By this investigation I hope further my understanding of neurobiology and improve my lab skills.
My name is Maximilian Unfried and I am an ERASMUS exchange student from Germany. Since October 2009 I am studying Integrated Life Science at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität in Erlangen. At the moment I am in my 3rd year of my bachelor. My main interest lays in the Computational and Systems Biology, which I try to deepen at the Imperial Physics Department. I am sure that this year at Imperial College – and especially this project – will be very informative and that I will get lots of new experience.
My name is Anushka Agarwal, and I am currently in my third year of Biochemistry at Imperial College London. Due to my keen interest in Neurobiology, I have decided to undertake my Final Year Project with Dr. Gilestro, where I will be investigating the link between sleep and learning. This project will give me invaluable laboratory experience, and allow me to work alongside those most knowledgeable in this field.
My name is Dorothy Overington. I’m a final year Biology undergraduate doing my degree project in the Gilestro lab. I previously did a placement in Biophysics which involved a lot of molecular work creating AAV vectors to knock down neurotransmitter receptor expression, but this project is more behaviourally oriented; I now work on the effect of ethanol exposure on the sleep-wake cycle of Drosophila melanogaster. This project has given me the opportunity to appreciate the use of model organisms for learning about human behaviours and responses, and also allowed me to broaden the scope of my experience with neuroscience. In autumn 2012 I will be starting a PhD, also in the neuroscience field, and believe that my time in this lab has given me a good head start to my research career.
Hi. I am Yi Ying and I am from Malaysia. I am currently a final year student studying Pharmacology and Translational Medical Science (BSc) in Imperial College London. I have chosen my final year project to work with Dr. Gilestro to investigate ethanol and sleep in Drosophila Melanogaster. This is my first time working invertebrates and I learned a lot about fruit flies throughout my project from behavioural studies to fly brain dissection. I am keen to explore more about the neuroscience of Drosophila and mammals, which I find really interesting after I started working on the project. I am a nature-lover, and I love hiking during my free time. It is the best experience of nature one can get!
My name is Henry Li and I am doing my final year project of the BSc Biomedical Science (Neuroscience and Mental Health). My project investigates the effect of sleep deprivation on the expression pattern of a family of genes, paying particular attention to a gene we called allnighter. I have learned to use a number of research techniques which will be very useful in the future, such as RNA extraction and PCR, as well techniques for handling flies.
My name is Martin Evans and I am in the final year of my bachelor’s degree in Pharmacology and Translational Medical Science here at Imperial College. I am working with Dr. Gilestro in collaboration with Dr. Robert Dickinson on a 10-week research project as the final part of my degree. During my project I will be investigating Drosophila as a model for studying the in vivo actions of xenon, which has great potential as an anaesthetic and neuroprotectant. Although I worked on a research project last summer between the second and third years of my degree this is the first true research-based part of my studies. I am looking forward to learning lots of new laboratory techniques and working in the vibrant research community here at the Biophysics Section.
My name is Giovanni Morelli and I am attending my first rotation of Mres in Biochemical Research at the Dr. Gilestro laboratory. I studied in Italy for a 5 year-period in which I have worked in different biological fields trying to vary my experiences: from allergies and proteins contained in our immune system to Fanconi Anemia in a diagnostic laboratory. Beside my studies, last year I started to open my mind to new borders by joining in a research laboratory that study mitochondria and their channels. Furthermore, I love sports as much as science in fact I have played volleyball since I was a child. As someone once said:”Mens sana in corpore sano”(cit. Giovenale).”
My name is Akira Yoshida. I am a medical student of Tokyo Medical and Dental University in Japan. I have come to Imperial College London as an exchange student, and now undertaking 5 months research project in the Gilestro lab, in collaboration with Dr. Robert Dickinson. I am really looking forward to learning new things and meeting new people here. My interest is in pediatrics and critical care. In my free time, I love visiting parks and walking around. I also play table tennis, which is the most interesting sport in the world!
My name is Andreas Hadjivasiliou and I am undertaking a lab placement with the Gilestro lab as part of my MRes in Biochemical Research. I the past I have worked on a wide range of biological issues including fungal mutualists, biofuel research and human disease receptors. Furthermore I enjoy science communication and dedicate time to volunteering as a Learning Volunteer at the Natural History Museum. Through these activities I try to bridge research and science with the wider world.
My name is Tim Gruber, I am 21 years old and an undergraduate from Heidelberg, Germany. I am looking forward to get many new impressions during a two-month practical at the Gilestro lab in the field of neuroscience – for me, the most interesting sector in life science. I got a scholarship and was finally mediated by the German Academic Exchange Service. Beside basic studies inside the bachelor schedule of life science, I already got an insight into marine biology and especially neuroscience. Since the last one impressed me the most, I am glad to get an opportunity for orientation before my master studies during my free period.