Lab members

Current lab members

David Stephens   ORCID iD

David studied Biochemistry at Royal Holloway College, University of London and did his PhD at St. George’s Hospital Medical School (also University of London). This was followed by postdoctoral research first with Prof. George Banting in Bristol and then with Dr Rainer Pepperkok at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany. David’s time there as an EMBO Long term fellow learning advanced light microscopy while working on COPII-dependent secretion. Following award of a Medical Research Council Non-Clinical Career Development Fellowship in 2001, David started the lab in Bristol. In 2005, David secured a Medical Research Council Non-Clinical Senior Fellowship He took up his core academic post in Bristol in October 2010.

David is a recognized expert in cell imaging, including publishing high-profile reviews and editing a book on cell imaging and another more recently on methods for the analysis Golgi function. Our work has led to many internationally recognized research publications, invitations to speak at prestigious meetings (e.g. Japanese Biochemical Society, Gordon conferences and EMBO workshops), and to contribute high-profile review articles (e.g. in Science and Nature). David has also served on committees of the Royal Microscopical Society and British Society for Cell Biology and has served on the editorial boards for Traffic and Biology Open. He is an Editor for Journal of Cell Science, an affiliate of the bioRxiv preprint server, and an Advisory Board member for Review Commons.

David has held several other roles including as a member of UKRI-BBSRC Council, Faculty Research Director for the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Bristol.
David was unit lead for the Year 4 MSci Biochemistry Programme until 2019 (which achieved 100% student satisfaction in the NSS) and continues to lead the Cell Biology of Development and Disease unit.

He tweets (mostly) about Science @David_S_Bristol

Nikki Stevenson (2013- )ORCID iD icon

Nikki joined the lab in November 2013 as a postdoc following completion of her PhD studying the ability of GRK2 to modulate initiation of inflammatory responses in endothelial cells in Dan Cutler’s lab at LMCB, UCL. Nikki works on the mechanistic basis of procollagen processing and secretion as well as contributing to our projects on ciliogenesis. Nikki is also a contributor to the preLights community that highlights new preprints in biology. Nikki’s is a Researcher co-Investigator on our UKRI-BBSRC sLoLa grant with colleagues across Bristol and Manchester. As such, Nikki takes a leading role in planning and execution of the programme.

Johannes Weijman (2022-) ORCID iD icon 0000-0002-2082-5777

Johannes joined the lab in 2022 to work on our project with Anthony Roberts exploring the mechanisms of assembly and function of the dynein-2 motor. Working closely with Laura, Johannes brings experience in recombinant protein expression and purification to the team.

Esther Prada-Sanchez (2020- ) ORCID iD icon 0000-0003-0118-7586

Esther has joined us recently on our collaborative BBSRC-funded sLoLa to support our zebrafish work. She will be working with Chrissy Hammond and Paul Martin’s labs as we seek to understand the mechanisms of collagen secretion and assembly, its relationship to wound healing and age-related changes in extracellular matrix, and the role of the circadian rhythm on these processes.

Lizzie Lawrence (2021- ) ORCID iD icon 0000-0002-8953-7183

Lizzie is a former Bristol Biochemistry undergraduate student and re-joins us following a PhD with our close collaborator Chrissy Hammond. Some time ago, Lizzie worked with us briefly on one of our dynein projects so its great to have her back. Lizzie will be working to understand the role of the Mia gene family (which encodes TANGO1, cTAGE5 and some other proteins). Lizzie will collaborate with Brian Link’s lab at the Medical College of Wisconsin to extend work on zebrafish models of Mia gene function.

George Thompson (2021- ) ORCID iD icon

George joins us as a PhD student on the BBSRC SWBio Doctoral Training Programme. During his project he’ll be working to understand the mechanisms by which cells deposit extracellular matrix and how this is affected by changes to secretory pathway activity including circadian control. The project is a collaborative one with Mike Allen at PML where we are looking to apply Mike’s expertise in high-speed atomic force microscopy.

Karolina Talandyte (2023)

Karolina joined us for 3 months at the end of her PhD in Jeremy Henley’s lab. She continued work on dynein-2 seeking to define roles for interacting proteins identified in proteomics experiments.


Former lab members

Laura Vuolo (2016- ) ORCID iD icon

Laura joined the lab following her PhD with Sebastian Pons at the  Institut de Biologia Molecular de Barcelona. Her previous work showed how ciliary adenyl cyclases are involved in Sonic Hedgehog signalling.  Her project investigates the role of the cytoplasmic dynein-2 microtubule motor in the formation and function of primary cilia.

Caroline Shak (2020- ) ORCID iD icon 0000-0002-2109-1058

Caroline joined us from her PhD at the University of Leicester to develop work on our collaborative project with Kazu Nakayama’s lab in Kyoto.

Janine McCaughey (2016-2020) ORCID iD icon

Janine completed her Masters thesis in 2016 at the Leibniz University Hannover. While in our lab for one of her research projects, Janine worked on the organization of ER exit sites in relation to collagen secretion and taking advantage of our recently installed STED microscope for some super-resolution imaging. This resulted in our paper in Cell Reports. During her PhD Janine drove our work on analysis of ER-to-Golgi transport using a GFP-collagen reporter that she engineered. This was published in Journal of Cell Biology. Janine also co-wrote a major review in Trends in Cell Biology on the same subject. Janine moved on to an EMBO Fellowship in Lukas Kapitein’s lab in Utrecht. Janine is also an accomplished artist and you can see more about that side of her life here:

Borhan Uddin (2019) ORCID iD icon 

Borhan joined the lab following his PhD at the University of Heidelberg with Elmar Schiebel and an MSc at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. Borhan has also taught at the Jahangirnagar University Savar, Dhaka District, Bangladesh. Borhan will be working on a collaborative project with Kazu Nakayama’s lab in Kyoto to define the ways that the dynein-2 motor co-assembles with other IFT protein complexes. Borhan returned to a lectureship position in Bangladesh.

Anne George (2019) worked with us on her first rotation on our Wellcome Trust PhD Programme in Dynamic Cell Biology.

Harry Young (2019) worked with us on his first rotation on our Wellcome Trust PhD Programme in Dynamic Cell Biology.

Juma Ward (2018) worked in the lab on rotation as part of our Wellcome Trust Programme in Dynamic Cell Biology. Juma is now working towards his PhD in Paul Martin’s lab.

Dylan Bergen  (2012- 2017) was part of our Wellcome Trust 4 Year PhD Programme in Dynamic Cell biology. Dylan worked jointly between the Stephens, Hammond, and Verkade labs  on the mechanisms of extracellular matrix secretion and ciliogenesis, particularly in terms of the function of giantin in these processes. His work integrated our cell-based approaches with further zebrafish work to define the links between secretory pathway function and these critical developmental processes. He has moved on to work on genome wide association studies of osteoarthritis through a Discipline Hopping Fellowship funded by the Elizabeth Blackwell Institute for Health Research (via our Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support funding).

Beth Moyse (2017) worked in the lab on rotation as part of our Wellcome Trust Programme in Dynamic Cell Biology. Bethis now working towards her PhD in Chrissy Hammond’s lab.

Chris Johnson (2017) worked in the lab towards his MSc in Biomedical Sciences.

Ash Evans (2014- 2017) worked towards his PhD on a collaborative basis between the Stephens and Henley labs. Based almost entirely in the Henley lab, his work dissected mechanisms of membrane trafficking in neuronal cells, applying the experience of the Stephens lab in membrane and cytoskeletal dynamics to the trafficking of neuronal receptors.

Vicky Miller (2012-2015) joined the lab from Dani Ungar’s lab in York. There she worked on COG complex function at the Golgi and worked in the lab on the organization of ER export in mammalian cells using the knock sideways system and RNAi of COPII components, notably TFG.

Anna Townley (2004-2014) worked in the lab for a total of 10 years including career break to have her first child. Anna contributed to almost all projects in the lab as can be seen by her contribution to our published work.

Sylvie Hunt (2009-2014) completed her PhD using advanced imaging techniques to study the role of microtubule-based motors in membrane trafficking. Sylvie completed the last segment of her PhD working part time after the birth of her daughter.

Rachel Ambler (2014) worked in the lab on rotation as part of our Wellcome Trust Programme in Dynamic Cell Biology. Rachel is now working towards her PhD in Christoph Wuelfing’s lab in Cellular and Molecular Medicine.

David Asante (2010-2014) was a PhD student in the lab working on ciliogenesis in mammalian cells. David previously did a Masters at Oxford Brookes. He will defend his thesis this summer and has moved on to the MRC Mammalian Genetics Unit (Harwell) to work with Dominic Norris on the role of polycystin proteins in cilia.

Dawid Walas (2011) joined the lab in October for his first rotation as a PhD student on our Wellcome Trust Programme in Dynamic Cell Biology.

Helen Hughes (2006-2010) was a BBSRC-funded PhD student looking at the the role of Sec16 in the function of the COPII complex. Helen joined after completing her BSc in Biochemistry in Bristol. Helen has now graduated and is currently working in clinical trials administration for the University Hospitals Bristol NHS Trust.

Katy Schmidt (2007-2010) joined the lab in November 2007 to work as a postdoc working on the role of Sec16 in COPII assembly She joined us from a slightly unusual background (for us!) following a PhD with Prof. Dr. Michael Wegner at the Institut für Biochemie at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg and postdoctoral work with Prof. Cheryl Tickle at the University of Dundee. We are very much hoping that Katy’s developmental biology background provided us with a new insight into some of our molecular cell biology approaches.

Annika Budnik (2007-2010) completed her PhD in 2010 and is now on her way travelling for a few months. Annika went on to work as a postdoc position back in Germany at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg. She is now working in clinical trials management and we wish her every success in the future.

Matt Gallon (2011) did his third rotation as a PhD student on our Wellcome Trust Programme in Dynamic Cell Biology.

Alex Shepherd (2010) did her first rotation with us as a PhD student on our Wellcome Trust Programme in Dynamic Cell Biology.

Lucy MacCarthy-Morrogh (2010) worked in the lab for 9 months on ciliogenesis in mammalian cells before moving on to a further postdoc in our department with Kate Nobes.

Fred Boal (2007- 2010) was a BBSRC-funded postdoc investigating the role of Arf-GEFs in membrane traffic and looking to develop novel inhibitors of membrane trafficking patwhays based on Arf/Arf-GEF interactions. Fred moved on to a further postdoc in our department with Jeremy Tavare.

Gayle Bishop (2010) was a British Society for Cell Biology-funded undergraduate summer student and returned to the final year of her degree at the University of Birmingham.

Graham Britton (2008) undertook a rotation project in the lab for 3 months; this, the first of his three rotation projects as part of Graham’s PhD on on our Wellcome Trust 4-Year PhD Programme in Dynamic Cell Biology, was highly successful and made a great contribution to our ongoing work.

Krysten Palmer (2001- 2009) was a PhD student and postdoc in the lab. Krysten did her first degree in Southampton and has just completed her PhD thesis (in David’s lab in Bristol) and most recently worked on the role of dynein subunits in specific membrane trafficking steps. She moved on to work on intellectual property rights.

Agnieszka Konopacka (2008- ) worked in the lab for three months developing the work started by Vijay Gupta. She has now moved on to a postdoc position in David Murphy’s lab in the molecular neuroendocrinology department of Clinical Science at South Bristol.

Sabine Kossmann (2009) was working alongside Fred to determine more funcitonal detail on the role of the large ARF-GEFs in secretory pathway function. This project formed part of her Masters at the University of Bielefeld, Germany.

Anna Antoniou (2008) undertook a summer studentship in the lab funded by the Nuffield foundation. While working alongside Fred, she made some key contributions to our chemical biology work and has now rejoined the Britol Biochemistry degree course for her final year. .

Vijay Gupta (2006-2008) left the lab to join the lab of Bill Balch at the Scripps in California. Vijay was a postdoc in the lab funded by a Royal Society International Incoming Fellowship (India). Vijay joined the lab following completion of his PhD in the lab of Dr Ghanshyam Swarup at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad, India.

Pete Watson (2003-2007) was a postdoc who formerly worked in the labs of Mike Lord and Lynne Roberts at the University of Warwick. Pete’s expertise in cell imaging led to a great number of publications from the lab and he wass instrumental in the integration of electron microscopy techniques in to our light microscopy imaging approaches. Pete has now taken up an RCUK fellowship in the Division of Biosciences at the University of Cardiff (click to see images of Pete during his farewell bash). He can be contacted directly via email:

Jo Konkel (summer student, 2003): After her degree in the Biochemistry department at the University of Bristol, Jo went on to a PhD at the University of Edinburgh.

Stuart Griffiths (summer student, 2002): went on to a PhD studentship at Cancer Research UK in London and is now Head of Research Innovation at the Breast Cancer Campaign.

Pratyusha Koka (research visitor, 2005-2006) worked in the lab for six months before taking up a technical post with the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (also known as the “Children of the 90’s” project).

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