Dr Amy Baldwin

Dr Amy Baldwin

Research Associate

Email:
baldwinaj@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone:
+44 (0)29 2068 8589
Location:
Cardiff School of Biosciences, Hadyn Ellis Building

I specialise in generating and utilising large collections of variants to discover the mechanisms behind biological processes. As part of a project funded by the Wellcome Trust, I am generating a large collection of Dictyostelium variants as a community resource. The social amoeba, Dictyostelium, is an amenable and economical model especially for studying process involved in human health and disease.

My interests lie in using large collections of variants to identify previously known mechanisms. I have previously worked with the model plant, Arabidopsis, and also developed techniques for introducing variation into individual genes for directed evolution.

I am a Biosciences’ Research Staff Group representative and part of the Cardiff sciSCREEN organising team. I was selected to participate in the prestigious Welsh Crucible 2016.

I obtained my B.Sc. degree in Biological Sciences (Biochemistry) from the University of Leicester and subsequently a Ph.D. in Plant Molecular Genetics. I spent 2 years as an International Scholar at the Department of Plant Sciences in UCDavis.

I joined Cardiff University in 2006 to develop direct evolution techniques within Dr Dafydd Jones’ group. I have since worked for the Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Centre (MCPCRC) based within the Wales Clinical Trials Unit (WCTU), and the Wales Gene Park as a Public Engagement Officer. In 2014 I joined the Harwood group in the Cardiff School of Biosciences to generate a genome wide mutant resource for Dictyostelium functional genomics (REMI-seq).

Projects are currently available for PTY, FYP and Master students in the following areas: Characterisation of neurodevelopment disorder risk genes.

Lecturing, Research Techniques in Biosciences (module BIT002, 2014 onwards)

Scope: Genome-wide mutant resources for functional genomics – applications of NGS.

Students: Masters in Biosciences (M.Res)

Lecturing, BBSRC DTP student training session (2016)

Scope: Social Media: Understanding and exploiting its potential for research

Students: BBSRCDTP Ph.D. 1st year students

Lecture Development: Science, Media and Communication (M.Sc., 2017)

Scope: Contribution to the lecture content within the Public Engagement with Science and Technology Module, specifically using Cardiff sciSCREEN as a model engagement programme

Students: M.Sc. students (School of Social Sciences)

Teaching in Practical Classes

Year: 2000 – 2003

Modules: Cell and Developmental Biology (BS1003), Diversity of Plants and Animals (BS1004) and Energy Flow (BS1007), University of Leicester

Students: 1st years

My role: demonstrating, teaching, supervision and assessment

Supervision of Undergraduate Final Year Projects (module BI3006)

Functional Pathways of Genes Related to Neurodevelopmental Disorders in Dictyostelium

  • Olivia Rosevere (2016/2017)
  • Alexandra Moate (2016/2017)
  • Catherine Borland (2016/2017)
  • Hannah Knight (2016/2017)

Characterisation of GFP protein incorporating non-natural amino acids

  • Kelly Crocker (2009/2010)

Cloning, expression, purification and characterisation of proteins for directed evolution studies.

  • Fiona Rowan (2007/2008, prize for the best Biochemistry project)
  • Gavin Clifford (2007/2008)

Project Leader – Research Experience for 1st Year Undergraduates

Year: 2017

Project: Functional Pathways of Genes Related to Neurodevelopmental Disorders in Dictyostelium

Students: Anwaar Ali, Rajini Chandrasegaram, Elizabeth Dudley, Jubia George, Balkis Harari, Jessica Hill, Sophia Hodgkinson, Tasnim Jahaan, Jade Mercer, and Eleanor Reynolds.

Other Supervision

  • Nov 2014 – Oct 2016, Sarah Jaques, SENIOR TECHNICIAN
  • REMI-seq, generation of a genome-wide mutant resource in Dictyostelium for functional genomics
  • Jun 2011 – Jul 2011, Jonah Wilkes, PRE-3RD YEAR SUMMER STUDENT
  • Jan 2011 – Aug 2011, Joshua Lewis, GAP YEAR, PRE-UNIVERSITY RESEARCH EXPERIENCE
    • Characterisation of engineered GFP variants for directed evolution methodology
  • Jul 2010 – Aug 2010, Katharina Streichert, ERASMUS
    • Novel mutagenesis approaches to engineering the green fluorescent protein (GFP) using non-natural amino acids
  • Jan 2006 – Mar 2006, Yi-Tze Chen, 1ST YEAR GRADUATE ROTATION STUDENT
  • Apr 2005 – Dec 2005, Vicky Law and Kristina Baroja, UNDERGRADUATE INTERN STUDENTS
  • Jun 2001 – Sept 2001, PRE-3RD YEAR SUMMER STUDENT

I specialise in generating and utilising large collections of variants to discover the mechanisms behind biological processes. As part of a project funded by the Wellcome Trust, I am generating a large collection of Dictyostelium variants as a community resource. The social amoeba, Dictyostelium, is an amenable and economical model especially for studying process involved in human health and disease.

Previously, I have generated and screened a large collection of Arabidopsis variants. One of the variants was further characterised and shown to be a key component in making plants resilient to harsh conditions such as drought; this knowledge is now being used to study how crop yields will not be compromised in an unreliable climate.

I have also developed techniques for directed evolution including TriNEx which is a method for generating large libraries of single amino acid substitutions for single proteins which can be screened in vivo.

Awards:

  • Participation in the Welsh Crucible (2016)
  • Participation in the BBSRC Mock Panel Event, GW4 (2016)
  • Awarded £2,000: 2nd Annual Seedcorn Fund (2016)
  • Awarded £2,250: Wellcome Trust ISSF Public Engagement Award (2016)
  • Awarded £38,395: Wellcome Trust Value in People Award (2008)
  • Poster prize - Royal Society of Chemistry meeting, Oxford (2008)
  • American Society of Plant Biologist Travel Award to Seattle, WA (2005)
  • American Society of Plant Biologist Travel Award to Providence, RI (2001)
  • H.E. Street Travel Grant (2001).

Engagement:

You can read about my current research project in my latest article for The Conversation: ‘We’re holding an amoeba Olympics to uncover the mechanisms behind human diseases’.

I am a member of the organising team for the popular engagement series, Cardiff sciSCREEN. Cardiff sciSCREEN is a cross-disciplinary programme that uses local academic expertise to discuss themes and issues raised by contemporary cinema in an entertaining and informative way. We have run more than 50 events to date exploring topics such as cloning, memory, gene environment interactions, natural selection, engaging with the outdoors and mental health. To find out more visit our website or Twitter feed @sciscreen. If you are interested in engaging the public with your research via film please get in touch.

You can find out more in our recent article in the first issue of the new engagement journal ‘Research for All’: Cardiff sciSCREEN: A model for using film screenings to engage publics in university research.

I have contributed to the SOCSI M.Sc. module ‘Public Engagement with Science and Technology’, and taught the BBSRC DTP PhD students about ‘Social Media: Understanding and exploiting its potential for research’.

Brain Games: fun and interactive activities with the Porthcawl Cub Scout group and St. Paul’s Primary School (#MRCFestival). While working for the Wales Gene Park I organised the biennial Genetics Roadshow, which visited 19 of the 22 Welsh counties. More than 4,000 students from 73 schools and colleges heard about the latest advances in genetics from experts from universities, the NHS and police forces. The students also gained an insight into genetics-related courses and careers.

Other Activities:

  • I am a Representative of the Cardiff School of Biosciences Research Staff Group.
  • Invited talk to 150 Year 9 and 10 pupils at ‘Breaking Boundries’, an event organised by a girls’ rights group called ‘Unify’ at St. Illtyd’s Catholic High School and Full Circle Education about making female students aware of the full breadth of the careers available to them.
  • Organiser of the 2017 Bioscience Research Day, you can read about the day here.
  • Organised the 2016 ‘Snapshots of BIOSI’: 3-word Photo Contest, you can read about it here.
  • Contributes to BioConnect Seminar series, including Joe Nicholls’ seminar titled ‘Utilising Social Media to Promote your Research’. If you missed the seminar you can view his slides HERE.
  • Annual Departmental Open Day events.
  • Input into the content of the BIOSI Postdoctoral Academy 2016 and 2017.
  • Blogger for the Bioscience Research Staff Group blog.
  • Seed Corn Panel member in 2016 and 2017.
  • Talks to community groups including U3A, WI and Rotary Clubs.
  • Find me on Twitter @amyjoy48.

Academic Schools