Dr Katherine Helliwell

NERC Independent Research Fellow

Katherine Helliwell stands in front of MBA algal collection


I am a molecular microbiologist interested in the fundamental biology of photosynthetic marine microbes, which critically underpin marine ecosystems. Following a degree in Biological Sciences at the University of Bristol, I pursued a PhD and postdoc with professor Alison Smith in the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge. During this time my work dissected the role of organic nutrients (vitamins) in governing interactions between phytoplankton and bacteria, and brought significant advances to our understanding in vitamin metabolism in aquatic microbes. After a postdoc at the MBA with Professor Colin Brownlee on algal signalling mechanisms, I was awarded a NERC Independant Research Fellowship and currently hold a joint appointment with the University of Exeter. Our research group couples novel molecular tools with environmental methods to investigate interactions of algae with other marine microbes, algal nutrient physiology and cell signalling mechanisms. Our overarching aim is to better understand how algae sense and respond to their environment.