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Sainsbury Laboratory


Research interests

I am fascinated by how microorganisms can use their seemly simple and limited gene sets to thrive in almost every corner of the planet Earth, no matter how harsh or fluctuating the environment is.



My scientific career starts as an undergraduate student at the University of Cambridge. After the second year, I took a summer project in Prof. Geoffrey Smith’s lab, where I studied the role of the vaccinia virus protein C4 in blocking DNA sensing during viral infection (Scutts et al, 2018). In the third year, I joined Dr. Nianshu Zhang’s lab and tried to identify novel regulators of the chronical lifespan of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In the fourth year, I joined Dr. James Locke’s lab and stayed on as a Ph.D. student. My Ph.D. project is mainly focused on studying the mechanisms and functions of sigma factor dynamics in the cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942. I am also developing new fluorescent protein tools for probing single-cell gene expression dynamics in cyanobacteria. In the future, I would like to continue my research to understand dynamics of microorganisms’ genetic circuits and how the dynamics contribute to their survival in the environment. I would also like to venture into the field of synthetic biology, in which I would use my knowledge to design, build and test new genetic systems that can be useful for scientific research and real-world applications.



Scutts SR, Ember SW, Ren H, Ye C, Lovejoy CA, Mazzon M, Veyer DL, Sumner RP & Smith GL (2018) DNA-PK Is Targeted by Multiple Vaccinia Virus Proteins to Inhibit DNA Sensing. Cell Rep. 25: 1953-1965.e4 Available at:

Research Assistant
 Chao  Ye

Contact Details

Sainsbury Laboratory
University of Cambridge
47 Bateman Street
Cambridge CB2 1LR
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