New research technician  

Posted 7th June 2023 by Sian Wakley

I am delighted to be joining Target Malaria as a Research Technician in the Crisanti Lab at Imperial College’s South Kensington Campus. 

In my role, I support PhD students and postdoctoral researchers in projects working on gene drive systems for population control of the malaria mosquito. This involves genetic manipulation using CRISPR and using a range of molecular techniques to verify the new genes we have introduced. I work across the lab and insectary but am mainly insectary-based as this is where the bulk of my expertise lies, where I  work primarily on female fertility gene drives. 

I have a background in medical entomology with an interest dating back to my childhood, though this was shelved for a while as I considered vet school! In 2017, I achieved my undergraduate degree in Bioveterinary Science from the University of Liverpool, and a module based at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in my final year convinced me to shift my focus back to entomology. This led me to undertake an MSc in Medical Entomology which I completed in 2019. 

I joined the team at Imperial earlier this year after spending the last couple of years as a project manager for Arctech Innovation, where I undertook client-led research into a wide range of vector control products, particularly repellents and insecticides. I was keen to get stuck into anything thrown at me, including letting mosquitoes bite me, ticks crawl up my arms, and sharing a bed with bedbugs – but my passion still lies with mosquitoes. My new role has given me the opportunity to dip my toe into academia and continue learning, with a focus on reducing endemic disease burden rather than consumer protection against biting insects. 

Outside of insects, my other great love is horses; before getting my first job in science I taught horse riding in London’s Hyde Park. I still ride regularly just for fun, and in my spare time I am an amateur coloured pencil artist.