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Dr Katerina Kaouri

Dr Katerina Kaouri

Lecturer in Applied Mathematics

School of Mathematics

Email
kaourik@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 (0)29 2087 5259
Campuses
M/2.36, Maths and Education Building , Senghennydd Road, Cardiff, CF24 4AG
Comment
Media commentator
Users
Available for postgraduate supervision

In my research I use deterministic and stochastic mathematical methodologies to solve cutting-edge challenges in biology, engineering, and physics but also in businesses and society. My current focus is mathematical and computational biology - modelling of fertilization and embryogenesis with a particular interest in calcium signalling and its interplay with cellular mechanics. I am also very interested and participate in industry-academia collaborative research projects. I have also initiated and coordinated twice a European Study Group with Industry in Cyprus, in 2016 (ESGI125) and in 2018 (ESGI146). From 2015-2019 I was a core member in the EU-funded  Mathematics for Industry Network (32 countries) and I continue to be actively involved in European industrial Maths activities. I was also a core member of the H2020 SciShops.eu project where we (18 organisations in 12 countries) worked closely with society on pressing societal challenges. 

For the last 15 years I have also been involved in several science communication and outreach activities as a communicator or organizer. I have co-founded the Mediterranean Science Festival in Cyprus and the non-profit organisation SciCo Cyprus. As a TEDxNicosiaspeaker in 2013 I talked about `Rethinking maths' and I have created a TED Ed video on the modelling of sonic booms (2.8+ million views). I welcome invitations to give popularised talks and other ideas for collaboration.

News:

  • We have a new preprint on modelling the role of calcium signalling in cancer. You can read it on the arxiv here.
  • COST has recognised European Study Groups with Industry as a success story for academia-industry exchanges across Europe. See this story in the Annual Report, based on an interview with me.
  • 1 Feb 2020: Anastasios Koulogiannis is visiting the group from École des Ponts ParisTech/National Technical University of Athens, until July. Welcome Anestis!
  • 21 November 2019: I have been voted Vice-President of the Parallel Parliament for "Research, Innovation and Digital Transformation" in Cyprus.
  • 4 October 2019: I am at the Cyprus Parliament today as a speaker at the workshop "Diversity and inclusion in the era of AI"  (conference on Industry 4.0)
  • 01 Feb 2019: Claudia Fanelli is visiting us from Centre de Recerca Matemàtica in Barcelona where she is pursuing her PhD with Prof Tim Myers, until the end of April. Welcome Claudia!
  • 25 Jan and 18 Mar 2019: I was invited to the Cypriot TV Show "Thekla milame anoikta" (SIGMA channel) where we discussed the diverse applications of Maths in our lives, and science communication.
  • 7 Dec. 2018: The 146th European Study Group with Industry has now finished! ESGI146 was the 2nd Study Group with Industry in Cyprus  (I was the lead organiser). It brought together 37 researchers from 10 countries who tackled for a week, in teams, three real-life challenges with societal impact.

Work experience

  • Lecturer in Applied Mathematics, School of Mathematics, Cardiff University, UK (Jan 2018-currently)
  • Co-Founder and Director of the non-profit SciCo Cyprus, Cyprus (2015-)
  • Research Fellow, Department of Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering and Informatics, Cyprus University of Technology, Cyprus (2016-2017)
  • Expert Scientist, Cyprus University of Technology, Cyprus (2015-17)
  • Assistant Professor, Intercollege Limassol (2010-2015)
  • Strategy and business consultant (2007-2010) (Boston Consulting Group, HELP-FORWARD Network)
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Centre for Mathematical Medicine and Biology, Nottingham University (2005-2007)
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Oxford Centre for Industrial and Applied Mathematics & Wolfson Centre for Mathematical Biology, Oxford University (2004-2005)

Education

  • DPhil in Applied Mathematics, University of Oxford (fully funded by the Sonic Boom European Research Programme)
  • MSc in Mathematical Modelling and Scientific Computing, Oxford University (top Distinction)
  • MS in Applied Physics, Columbia University (fully funded by a university award)
  • BA in Pure and Applied Mathematics, University of Cambridge (full-cost Cambridge Commonwealth Scholarship)

Selected grants

  • KESS2 acadmia-industry grant in collaboration with the London Women's Clinic (Role: PI) (2019-2022)
  • SciShops.eu, H2020 project (RIA, Science with and for Society) - €101K (Role: Project leader, SciCo Cyprus). Total EU budget: €3 million. 18 partners in 12 countries. Identification and solution of 250 societal challenges across Europe through community-based research
  • Grants and sponsorships for the organisation of the 146th European Study Group with Industry (2nd Study Group with Industry in Cyprus) - €30K. Funding bodies: Mathematics for Industry Network (major contributor), SciShops.eu, KPMG Cyprus (strategic partner), ExxonMobil, University of Cyprus, CY Research Promotion Foundation, Cyprus Tourism Organisation, British High Commission in Cyprus
  • Grants and sponsorships for the organisation of the 125th European Study Group with Industry (1st Study Group with Industry in Cyprus, 2016) - €37K. (Role: Principal applicant) Funding bodies: Mathematics for Industry Network (major contributor), KPMG Cyprus (major sponsor), Cyprus University of Technology, University of Cyprus, CY Research Promotion Foundation, Cyprus Tourism Organisation, British High Commission in Cyprus
  • Award for the organisation of the industry-academia workshop in Cyprus (2017) - €1500 Euro (Role: Principal applicant) Funding bodies: Mathematics for Industry Network, British High Commission in Cyprus, Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • Several awards for international research visits ~10K Euros Funding bodies: Mathematics for Industry Network (3 Short-Term Scientific Missions to Oxford University), ERASMUS+, Cyprus University of Technology
  • Fund-raising for the organisation of the Mediterranean Science Festival - ~50K Euros (Role: MSF Co-founder and co-director)
  • Scholarships for academic excellence throughout the course of studies - ~200K Euros
    • Cambridge University (full-cost scholarship for BA studies and ORS award for PhD studies - declined)
    • Columbia University (full-cost award for MS studies),
    • Oxford University (Alan Tayler Bursary for MSc studies and Somerville College graduate scholarship for DPhil studies)
    • Sonic Boom European Research Programme (full-cost scholarship for DPhil studies at Oxford University)
    • A.G.Leventis Foundation (educational grant for DPhil studies)

Speaking engagements

Recent and upcoming speaking engagements

  • Two-day meeting in honour of Joe Keller, Oxford University, 24-25 June 2019, Invited talk
  • "Mathematics with and for society", British Applied Mathematics Colloquium, 24-26 April 2019 (Invited minisymposum talk)
  • "Mechanochemical models of calcium signalling in embryonic cells", Half-day meeting "Calcium signalling in fertilization, embryogenesis and development", Cardiff University, January 23, 2019 (speaker and organiser, funded by the London Mathematical Society through a "Celebrating New Appointments" grant)
  • Panel discussion at the European Open Science Forum "Mathematics: a powerful tool for solving pressing business and societal challenges", July 2018 (speaker and co-organiser with Prof. Poul Hjorth @ Technical University of Denmark)
  • Applied and Computational Mathematics Seminar Series, Cardiff University, UK, May 2018
  • BioMaths Colloquium Series, Swansea University, UK, April 27, 2018
  • The interplay of calcium signalling and mechanics in embryonic cells, UK Multiscale Biology ConferenceNottingham, UK 16-18 April 2018

2019

2017

2015

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2010

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2001

I teach the following two courses this semester (Spring 2019):

  • M0332 - Fluid Mechanics (3rd-year course)
  • MA4004 - Theoretical Fluid Mechanics (MMath course with consists of advanced topics in Fluid Mechanics)

I currently supervise the following students on research projects:

  • Abhishek Chakraborty (PhD student, with Prof. T. Phillips)
  • Tim Ostler (PhD student, with Dr T. Woolley, Prof. Karl Swann and Andrew Thomson at the London Women's Clinic)
  • Layla Namaghi Sadeghi (MPhil research student, with Dr T. Woolley and Prof. K. Swann),
  • Ali Tariq (MMath student)
  • Anastasios Koulogiannis (visiting researcher from Ecole de Ponts ParisTech, Feb-July 2020)

Research Interests

Deterministic and stochastic modelling in biology, engineering, and physics, business and society. Focus: Mathematical and Computational Biology (fertilization and embryogenesis, calcium signalling). Also: Fluid Mechanics; Industrial Mathematics; Asymptotic methods.

Mathematical/Computational Biology projects:

  • Mechanochemical models of intracellular and intercellular calcium signalling, which take into account the coupling of calcium to the mechanical behavior of the cells and tissue. This mechanochemical coupling plays a crucial role in many body processes and diseases, for example embryogenesis, wound healing, atherosclerosis and cancer. Collaborators: Prof. Philip Maini (Oxford University) Prof. Jon Chapman (Oxford University), Dr Paris Skourides & Dr Neophytos Christodoulou (University of Cyprus, Biosciences), Dr Ricardo Ruiz-Baier (Monash University), Prof. Lance Davidson (MechMorpho lab, Pittsburgh University). See a recent paper. PhD student: Abishek Chakraborty
  • Calcium signalling in fertilization (optimal IVF protocols).  We model and simulate calcium signals in mouse and in human eggs in order to elucidate the conditions of successful In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF). It has been shown in recent experiments that the amplitude and frequency of calcium oscillations directly correlate with fertilization success and we are building the first related model. In collaboration with: Prof. Karl Swann, Chair of Reproductive Biology (Cardiff Biosciences) and Dr Thomas Woolley (Cardiff). MPhil student: Layla Namaghi Sadeghi
  • Data analysis and computational modelling of embryo growth rate and other metrics of success in IVF (in collaboration with the London Women’s Clinic). A key factor for success during an in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle is embryo selection. This involves predicting which embryo is most likely to give a viable pregnancy. Current methods such as time-lapse imaging of cell cycles, or metabolic profiling, are respectively unproven or difficult to implement.  We concentrate on cryogenically preserved embryos, which are warmed up and replaced into the uterus after being assessed by the embryologist to have a good chance for pregnancy. LWC have large amounts of data regarding time-lapse image stacks of cells before embryo transfer. The embryologists are highly trained to interpret these image sequences but training personnel to such standards is a slow process. Also, the metrics to assess potential success are not clear. We are developing a sophisticated, user-friendly image segmentation software that will simultaneously extract multiple features of a thawing embryo and identify the best metrics for embryo success. In collaboration with: Dr Thomas Woolley (Cardiff), Andrew Thomson and Giles Palmer (LWC). PhD student: Tim Ostler
  • Calcium signalling in cancer: Calcium signalling has been shown recently to play a significant role in the evolution of cancer. We are developing spatiotemporal deterministic models, informed by experiments and investigate the role of calcium signals in cancer, with the aim to inform new therapies. In collaboration with: Dr Ruediger Thul (Nottingham). Dr Andreas Buttenschön (University of British Columbia) and Dr Vasiliki Bitsouni. See preprint in the arxiv.
  • Stochastic modelling of intracellular calcium signals. Calcium is an ubiquitous second messenger that communicates important information across the cell. Noise plays a crucial role in the information transfer and many questions are still open. I am currently working on two projects:
    • Comparison of two deterministic and stochastic models for calcium oscillations. In collaboration wtih Dr Thomas Woolley. MMath student: Ali Tariq 
    • Decoding of noisy calcium signals by proteins, in collaboration with Dr Ruediger Thul (University of Nottingham). Visiting research student: Anastasios Koulogiannis
  • Magnetic targeting: In magnetic targeting drugs are attached to magnetic particles and are directed to a specific part of the human body using a magnetic field. We model various scenarios and perform simulations of blood flow and particle movement. We also the blood is a non-Newtonian fluid. With: Prof. Tim Phillips (Cardiff), Claudia Fanelli & Prof. Tim Myers (CRM, Barcelona).

Please contact me if you are interested in working on any of the above challenges

Other research projects:

I have worked on various other projects over the years. Some key projects are highlighted below:

  • Sonic boom modelling: In my DPhil research (University of Oxford) I have developed mathematical models of sonic booms generated by supersonic aeroplanes, as a member of SOBER, the Sonic Boom European Research Programme. SOBER was a multi-university, academia-industry consortium, coordinated by AIRBUS. Sonic boom research is still a hot research area since no civil supersonic carrier flew again after Concorde was terminated. See my DPhil thesis and also related papers here, here and here.
  • Water resources management: In the context of the 1st Study Group with Industry we collaborated with the Cyprus Water Development Department, the governmental organisation managing water resources.  Together with an international team of modellers (Raka Mondal, Graham Benham, Sourav Mondal and others) we modelled the water in and out of the Germasogeia aquifer and proposed an optimal recharge protocol. Read our paper here.
  • Modelling magnetic hyperthermia: magnetic hyperthermia is a minimally invasive cancer therapy, where an external magnet guides magnetic nanoparticles through the bloodstream to reach a tumour. The tumour is then burnt by elevating its temperature, while healthy cells remain, ideally, unaffected. Cancer modelling is a very active area of quantitative biology. See related paper here.
  • Fluid flow in optical fibers: With Dr Paul Christodoulides at the Cyprus University of Technology  (CUT) we have co-supervised a MSc student on this project (2018). We aim to link the developed models to experiments on optical fibers at the Kallis lab (CUT). See related abstract here.

Business consulting: From 2007-2010 have worked outside academia as a business consultant. At the Boston Consulting Group, we advised large companies, at CEO level, on strategic and operational issues. As a technology transfer consultant at the HELP-FORWARD network (Enterprise Europe Network) I connected SMEs across Europe and researchers with companies.

Industry-academia activities: From 2015-19 I was a Management Committee member of the Mathematics for Industry Network (MI-NET, COST Action TD1409), an EU-funded of 32 country members that promoted the use of mathematics for solving industrial and societal challenges. I was also the leader of the “Case Studies” Working Group of MI-NET. We gathered and edited 21 successful case studies from across Europe. You can read the booklet here.

In 2016 I led the organization of the 1st Study Group with Industry in Cyprus, an academia-industry workshop where mathematical modelling experts from 17 countries solved four Cypriot industrial challenges, ranging from improving bus routes in Nicosia to increasing the innovation factor of ENGINO toys. This 5-day workshop was followed by a half-day industry-academia workshop in October 2017. The second Study Group with Industry in Cyprus took place in December 2018 and it was also a co-creation event with society. 37 researchers from 10 countries worked on three societal challenges.

Science communication activities: I am passionate about sharing maths and science with everybody and I have been involved in various science communication activities for more than a decade. Aside from being a co-founder of the Mediterranean Science Festival and of the non-profit organization SciCo Cyprus I have given several popularized talks to a wide range of audiences, including a TEDx talk.  Science commmunication videos fascinate me and I have worked on this TED-Ed animation on sonic booms  (2.8+ million views).

Recent and upcoming speaking engagements

I am interested in supervising PhD students and in hosting visiting scientists in the areas of:

  • Mathematical and Computational Biology (in particular, calcium signalling in fertilization and embryogenesis)
  • Fluid Mechanics (in particular, magnetic targeting for bio applications and other biofluids challenges)
  • Industrial mathematics (business and societal challenges that can be tackled with mathematical modelling and simulation)

Current supervision

Abhishek Chakraborty

Research student

Timothy Ostler

Research student

Layla Sadeghi Namaghi

Layla Sadeghi Namaghi

Research student

Manal Alamoudi

Research student