Graduates: Mentoring and Support

The Graduate Mentoring Programme (GMP) aims to provide confidential support and advice to graduate students to help them navigate issues that may arise throughout their studies. We offer an easily accessible and informal opportunity for students to talk through any queries or issues. The support team is made up of Zoology postdoctoral researchers trained in mentoring, many of whom did their DPhils in the department.

The Support Team

Ella Cole

Ella Cole

In 2007 I joined the EGI as a DPhil student supervised by Dr John Quinn, studying personality and cognitive variation amongst wild great tits. Since completing my DPhil in 2012 I’ve been working as a postdoctoral researcher in the EGI, and am currently working with Prof Ben Sheldon exploring spatial components of plasticity in tit phenology. I also have an interest in wellbeing and mental health, and over the last few years have organised graduate training seminars on topics such as stress and anxiety management, supervisor-student relations, and life after a DPhil.

Email: eleanor.cole@zoo.ox.ac.uk

Bernhard Voelkl

Bernhard Voelkl

I am a behavioural ecologist and postdoctoral research assistant at the EGI, studying social behaviour of great tits. I studied zoology at the University of Vienna and have held postdoctoral research positions at the CNRS in Strasbourg and the Institute for Theoretical Biology at the Humboldt University in Berlin (working on the evolution of cooperation). I am commuting back and forth between the UK and Switzerland, where my wife is currently finishing her DPhil thesis at the University of Bern.

Email: bernhard.voelkl@zoo.ox.ac.uk

Lucy Tallents

Lucy Tallents

I did my DPhil with WildCRU on the spatial distribution and behavioural ecology of Ethiopian wolves, spending 3 years in the southern highlands of Ethiopia. I’ve continued as a post-doc with WildCRU, establishing and teaching a postgraduate diploma in wildlife conservation research techniques, and now creating an online distance-learning version of the course. I’m a technical advisor in GIS, statistics and R-coding within my research group, and I’ve consulted for conservation NGOs. Outside work I study a martial art called Shorinji Kempo, and practice mindfulness meditation to enjoy life through all its ups and downs! I’m happy to discuss any issue, from identifying skills gaps and aspirations, to professional relationships or your next career move. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but hope that with focused discussion and the emphasis on tackling your agenda we can explore the way forward for you. My office is out at Tubney but I’m happy to arrange to meet in Zoology.

Email: lucy.tallents@zoo.ox.ac.uk

Carina Brehony

Carina Brehony

I am originally from Ireland and did my undergraduate degree in Galway. I completed my DPhil in the Department of Zoology in 2010 in the group of Prof Martin Maiden. I continue to work in the group as a post doc where my research focuses on the molecular epidemiology and population genomics of the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis.

Email: carina.brehony@zoo.ox.ac.uk

Frances Colles

Frances Colles

I did my degree in Zoology/Microbiology at Aberystwyth University, Wales and completed an MSc in Medical Microbiology at the University of Westminster, London whilst working as a state registered biomedical scientist at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford. The MSc inspired me to move to research, and I did my DPhil at Oxford University. I currently combine being a mother of a small toddler, with work as a Postdoc in Prof Martin Maiden’s group on the molecular epidemiology of Campylobacter, the most common bacterial cause of gastroenteritis.

Email: frances.colles@zoo.ox.ac.uk

Darshil Shah

Darshil Shah

After completing my IB diploma at the NIST International School in Bangkok (Thailand), from 2006 to 2009 I pursued a BEng (Hons) in mechanical engineering with mathematics at the University of Nottingham. Staying on at Nottingham, in 2013 I completed my PhD in bio-based polymer composite materials and their manufacture for wind energy applications. Since March 2013, I have been working as a post-doc researcher in Prof Fritz Vollrath’s ‘Silk Group’. My research here focuses on developing advanced, sustainable material technologies based on animal silks. I am also a keen cricketer, having represented Thailand’s national cricket team between 2001 and 2007.

Email: darshil.shah@zoo.ox.ac.uk

Michelle Taylor

Michelle Taylor

Originally from Manchester (City…. not United), I joined the University of Oxford Department of Zoology part way through my PhD in 2010. Previously I’d been based at the Institute of Zoology in London, Imperial College (for my Masters, based in Silwood Park), and the University of Leeds (undergraduate). I also worked in international conservation NGOs for 4 years before starting my PhD and helped establish a not-for-profit organisation in southwest Madagascar undertaking coral reef research. My current research focuses on population connectivity and speciation in the deep-sea.

Email: michelle.taylor@zoo.ox.ac.uk

Irem Sepil

Irem Sepil

I come from Turkey where I obtained my BSc degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics in 2005. I then worked as a research assistant at UCLA, Tropical Research Centre for two years before joining the EGI in 2008 as a DPhil student supervised by Prof. Ben Sheldon, studying MHC variation and selection in a wild great tit population. I had a baby just after handing in my thesis and had a year off from academia. In 2013 I came back to the EGI for a short-term research associate position (3 months) trying to optimize a technique for mapping epigenetic variation in great tits. Recently I started a postdoctoral research position with Dr. Stuart Wigby investigating ageing and seminal fluid protein-mediated sexual selection in Drosophila.

Email: irem.sepil@zoo.ox.ac.uk

If you would like to chat with one of us about anything that is concerning you please contact us directly using the email addresses above.

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