Dr Sebastien Andreuzza and Dr Gita Yadav joined Plant Sciences as holders of the first DBT-Cambridge Lectureships in September 2016. The program is aimed at developing significant research collaborations between Cambridge and Indian partners, and is co-funded by the University of Cambridge and Government of India, Department of Biotechnology (DBT).
Sebastien obtained his Ph.D. in 2006 from ENS Lyon, France, where he worked with Dr Frederic Berger on the mechanisms of maternal control of seed development. In 2007, he joined Dr Imran Siddiqi’s group as an International CSIR Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, India, to pursue his interest in plant development and reproduction. There, he worked on the function of a chromatin binding protein in the regulation of meiotic gene expression. As a Lecturer in the Department, Sebastien aims to further his understanding of chromatin function during plant reproduction by using a cell specific approach, and to investigate the genetic basis of plant germline formation. Sebastien has recently been awarded an Isaac Newton Trust / Wellcome Trust ISSF / University of Cambridge Joint Research Grant, to establish a method to isolate meiotic cells from Arabidopsis flowers, in collaboration with the group of Dr Ian Henderson. This would constitute an important tool for deciphering the mechanisms of plant meiosis, and would lead to further collaborations with Dr Siddiqi and plant scientists in India.
Gita has a diverse scholastic background, with degrees in Botany, Biomedical research and Computational Immunology, which enables her to integrate the principles of biophysics and stereochemistry with plant biology, facilitating novel insights or interpretations. Her partner institution for the DBT-Cambridge Lectureship is the National Institute of Plant Genome Research (NIPGR), New Delhi, where she leads a research group in computational biology and phytochemistry. At Cambridge, Gita has initiated collaborative work for enhancing photosynthetic efficiency and phytochemical evolution, with crop scientists within the department, and field ecologists at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. Since taking up the Lectureship, Gita has won the early career award by the Royal Society, for the upcoming Commonwealth Science Congress (CSC-2017), and an EMBO travel grant to attend the Indo-UK Young Scientists Networking meeting in Barcelona in April 2017. The International Strategy Office of Cambridge University has awarded the Hamied Fellowship to Gita. She has made forays into science communication and outreach, visiting primary schools and NGOs in Cambridgeshire, giving lectures on evolution and biodiversity. She has taken up membership of the departmental Diversity-Equality committee, the Cambridge Science & Policy (CSaP) network, as well as the British Ecological Society. Gita divides her time between India and Cambridge to seamlessly convert new knowledge to action, and strengthen ties between our two nations. Towards this, in the last week of March 2017, she is organising a Bioinformatics workshop for Indian scholars and teachers of rural colleges, at NIPGR, to enhance awareness and applications of computational biology in plant science.