Group Members

Dr Annemette Kjeldsen - Lab Manager

Annemette moved from Denmark to Scotland to obtain an MChem in Medicinal and Biological Chemistry in the School of Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh, graduating in 2013. She then began working in industrial biotechnology at Ingenza Ltd. in Roslin, where she was part of a multidisciplinary team working towards developing biosynthetic routes for production of high value chemicals. In 2016 she began an IBioIC-sponsored PhD with Professor John Christie at the University of Glasgow in close collaboration with Ingenza as the industrial partner. Her PhD research focused on developing and characterising the fluorescent protein iLOV and its derivatives by NMR, and the applications of this as a biosensor reporter and protein marker in an industrial setting. AM joined the Wallace group in 2021 to work on microbial pathway engineering and whole-cell biotransformations towards the sustainable production of industrial small molecules. 


Dr Joanna Sadler 

Jo’s research stems from a desire to develop novel biotechnologies to drive a more sustainable future. Following on from her undergraduate degree in Chemistry at the University of Bristol, Jo went on to study for an Industrial PhD at GlaxoSmithKline in collaboration with the University of Strathclyde under the supervision of Prof. Glenn Burley and Dr Luke Humphreys. Her PhD research focused on developing an enzymatic, environmentally benign platform for C–C bond formation for organic synthesis. This work triggered her interest in biocatalysis, enzymology and synthetic biology and inspired her to move to the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, where she worked on methodology for directed evolution under the supervision of Prof. Douglas Kell. She then moved to the University of St Andrews to work with Prof. Rebecca Goss on the development of a novel pathway for the bio-based production of an industrial chemical. In 2019, Jo was awarded a BBSRC Discovery Fellowship to work on molecular up-cycling of industrial waste into value-added small molecules using engineered microbes in our lab. Jo will start a Chancellor's Fellowship at UoE from 2022 where she will establish her own independent lab in the area of plastic up-cycling.





Dr Catherine Spencer 

Catherine graduated from UCL with an MSci in Chemistry where her final year project involved the synthesis of a luciferin analogue for bioluminescence imaging. She then completed her PhD at the University of Bristol under the supervision of Prof. Chris Willis and Dr. Andy Bailey, investigating the biosynthesis of fungal maleidride natural products. During her PhD she spent a three-month placement working with the synthetic biology team at Syngenta. Catherine joined the Wallace lab in July 2021 funded by the UK Catalysis Hub to work on metabolic pathway design in E. coli for the delivery of chemical reagents in collaboration with the Jarvis Lab in the School of Chemistry, Johnson Matthey, Evonik and Ingenza.





Dr Marcos Valenzuela Ortega

Marcos obtained a BSc in Biotechnology from the Universitat Autonòma de Barcelona. He moved to Scotland in 2014 to work in Ingenza Ltd, to engineer new metabolic pathways in bacteria. In 2016, Marcos joined the University of Edinburgh to pursue a PhD in the lab of Professor Chris French, funded by EastBio. The doctoral project aimed at engineering microbes to break down cellulose, with a focus on developing new methodologies for candidate generation and screening. After completing his PhD, he worked in the lab of Prof. Louise Horsfall to develop Synbio tools for a non-model bacterium. Marcos joined the Wallace lab in November 2021 to work in an industrial collaboration seeking the sustainable generation of an industrial feedstock chemical.






Jack Suitor 

Jack is a fourth year PhD student in the Wallace lab, and is originally from the United States. He graduated with a BSc(hons) in Biochemistry from the University of Edinburgh in 2018 and was awarded a prestigious PhD scholarship from the Carnegie Trust to pursue his doctorate in our lab, which focusses on pathway engineering and biocompatible chemistry in Escherichia coli. He is looking forward to further developing his biological knowledge and supplementing it with some more traditional organic chemistry. Outside the lab, he’s still finding new places to explore, sights to see, and restaurants to try in Edinburgh even after 5 years of living here! 



Jonny Dennis 

Jonathan grew up in Edinburgh and gained a BSc(Hons) in Chemistry with Pharmaceutical Chemistry at Heriot-Watt University in 2017, where he completed his dissertation project on the synthesis Clostridial neurotoxins for use in super-resolution microscopy. In 2018, he graduated with a MSc (with distinction) in Synthetic Biology & Biotechnology from the University of Edinburgh. His MSc dissertation was co-supervised by Stephen and Dr Leo Solis (School of Engineering) and involved the development of a genetic toolkit for the high-throughput directed evolution of P450 enzymes in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Jonny joined the lab for his doctorate in 2018 as part of the CRITICAT CDT where his research focusses on the development of biocompatible chemistries in a range of metabolically engineered microbes.

Nick Johnson 

Originally from Nottingham, Nick moved to Scotland to gain an MChem in Chemistry at the University of Glasgow in 2017. During this time, he also did an industrial placement at Bayer CropScience in 2015/16, where he worked on the synthesis of enantiomerically pure chiral amines using transaminases. After this, Nick began his master’s project under the supervision of Dr Andrew Jamieson where he worked on the vasoconstrictor Urotensin-II. Nick joined the Wallace lab in 2019 funded by an EPSRC iCASE PhD studentship with AstraZeneca, where his doctoral research focusses on the design and application of new enzymes in engineered microbial cells.





Mirren White

An Edinburgh native, Mirren gained a BSc (Hons) in Genetics from the University of Glasgow in 2014. An MSc in Science Communication and Public Engagement from the University of Edinburgh followed in 2015, after which she worked in the sector for the next three years. Having always been interested in the practical applications of biology, she undertook an MSc in Synthetic Biology and Biotechnology at Edinburgh, graduating with Distinction in 2019. As part of the MSc, she took part in the 2019 iGEM competition, working on azo dye detection and bioremediation, for which the team was awarded a Silver Medal. She joined the lab in 2020 as a research assistant working on metabolic engineering of bacteria to produce high-value products, before joining the IBioIC PhD programme in October 2020 to work on the sustainable production of industrial chemicals using a combination of engineered bacterial metabolism and chemical catalysis in collaboration with MiAlgae.


Connor Trotter

Hailing from just south of the border in Northumberland, Connor studied at Newcastle University where he obtained an MBiol in Biology and was awarded the Oxford University Press Prize for Achievement in Biosciences. During his time at Newcastle, Connor specialised in Synthetic Biology - competing in the iGEM competition in both 2018 and 2019 - before being drawn towards Biochemistry during his UG and MBiol dissertations with Dr Jon Marles-Wright and Ms Jasmine Bird. These projects focussed on the binding properties and crystallographic structure of a functionalised, self-assembling biomaterials. Connor joined the lab in 2020 as part of the EASTBIO DTP and focusses on exploring the uncharacterised chemical potential of bacterial metabolism to identify novel, industrially relevant, biocatalysts. 


Rory Gordon

Rory is passionate about technologies which will accelerate sustainable development. He completed an undergraduate in Biochemistry with Professional Placement at the University of Bath, which included a placement year investigating self-limiting insect control at Oxitec. This experience sparked his interest in synthetic biology which he pursued with an MRes at University College London (UCL), which included a research project co-supervised by Profs. Helen Hailes and John Ward. This work focussed on generating novel alkaloid drug scaffolds, using engineered cytochrome P450s and substrate decoy molecules. Rory joined the Wallace group at the University of Edinburgh in 2020 to pursue a doctorate in the School of Chemistry in collaboration with the Thomas Lab, funded by Lubrizol through the EaSi-CAT programme, with the goal to develop sustainable routes to petrochemicals. 


Louis Marlow

Louis grew up in London and in 2012 moved north to pursue his BSc in Biochemistry at the University of Aberdeen. Whilst at university, he secured a Saltire Foundation business internship with GSK at their global headquarters in London where he completed a ten-week placement over summer in 2017. After his undergraduate degree, Louis completed a collaborative MSc in Industrial Biotechnology culminating in an industrial placement at Ingenza, where he generated a CRISPR/Cas9-mediated B. subtilis knock-out library for the enhanced production of industrially relevant enzymes. Upon completion of his placement, Louis was hired and worked at Ingenza for 4 years on a diverse range of projects, delivering biological routes to produce high-value chemicals and proteins in various prokaryotic and eukaryotic hosts including E. coliP. putidaB. subtilisS. cerevisiae and P. pastoris. He specialised in the identification and implementation of high-throughput and automated strain engineering strategies. Given his passion for biotechnology and engineering of biological systems, Louis is now completing his EPSRC CASE doctoral research in the Wallace lab in collaboration with the UK Government Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), focussing on synthetic biology and biocompatible chemistry.


Gautham Suresh

Gautham moved to the UK to work toward a BSc in Cellular and Molecular Biology at Newcastle University in 2016. While at Newcastle, he completed a research dissertation on engineering optical protein biomaterial production in Escherichia coli, under the supervision of Dr Jon Marles-Wright. To further pursue his interest in microbial biotechnology, Gautham joined the Santini lab at UCL as an MRes student where he investigated the use of bacteriophages against the plant pathogen Agrobacterium tumefaciens. Gautham joined the Wallace lab in 2021 as a Darwin Trust funded PhD student, aiming to study the chemical tolerance of microorganisms to create improved microbial chassis for industrial use.





Cordelia Kao

Cordelia graduated with a BSc in Chemistry from the University of Bristol in 2019. Having always been interested in the interface between chemistry and biology, she went on to obtain an MSc in Biochemistry from the University of Edinburgh. Her MSc dissertation was supervised by Professor Dominic Campopiano and focused on analysing and potentially engineering a multifunctional molecular machine for the production of industrial chemicals. She joined the Wallace lab in 2021 as part of the IBioIC PhD programme in collaboration with Argent Energy. Her research focuses on using waste as feedstock for the generation of high-value small molecules.





Kavi Shah

Kavi recently completed his undergraduate degree in Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge. He has a keen interest in synthetic biology and chemistry and it’s use to produce novel and industrially relevant compounds. Building on his experience in biochemistry and genetics, in addition to some organic chemistry, Kavi joined the group as a MRes student in 2021 to investigate some of the fundamental features of non-enzymatic reactions in microbial cells and how this can inform the design of new biocompatible reactions in the future.




Max Philips

Max is a final year student from the South of England studying for BSc Biological Sciences (Biotechnology) at the University of Edinburgh. He has particular interests in pathway engineering and other areas of synthetic microbiology, and hopes to explore ways biotechnology can provide solutions for climate change. Max joined the Wallace Lab in 2021, beginning his honours research project in cascade biocatalysis in E. coli to provide renewable approaches to a range of industrial platform chemicals that are currently derived from fossil fuels.