Personal Chairs for Life Sciences staff 2023-24 Annual Review

Published on 12 June 2024

Ingo Hein, Jens Januschke, Stephen Land, Marios Stavridis and Susan Wyllie have been promoted to Personal Chair (Professor) as part of the 2023-24 Annual Review process for academic and research staff.

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Top row (from left): Ingo Hein, Jens Januschke and Stephen Land. Bottom row (from left): Marios Stavridis and Susan Wyllie

Ingo Hein

Ingo is the Head of Potato Genetics at the James Hutton Institute and has been a member of the Division of Plant Sciences at the University of Dundee since 2017. His current research focuses on potatoes, the third most important food crop globally. Central to his research is the Commonwealth Potato Collection (CPC), which serves as a vital source of naturally occurring disease resistance against major potato pathogens, including late blight, potato cyst nematodes, and viruses.

Given the international significance of potatoes and crop diseases, Ingo holds honorary Chair positions at China Agricultural University (CAU), The International Potato Centre (CIP/CCCAP), and the University of Pretoria in South Africa. His translational research, which contributes to the development of new, resilient potato cultivars, is realised through close collaboration with breeders at the Hutton and various international companies.

Ingo said: “I am incredibly fortunate to work with so many talented colleagues and students in Dundee, the UK, and globally. It is really exciting to know that our research helps develop new potato cultivars internationally, and that there is a tangible outcome that is planted, grown, and eaten that has the potential to contribute a little bit towards sustainable crop production.”

Jens Januschke

Jens Januschke is a group leader in the Molecular, Cell & Developmental Biology Division (MCDB). Jens is also part of the of the MCDB management team and joint co-Head of the Division. His group works in the area of cell and developmental biology using the fruitfly Drosophila as well as human neural progenitor cells as model systems to understand the fundamental mechanisms that underpin the development of the central nervous system. Critical to the development of the adult brain in flies and humans are neural stem cells that can produce two different cell types in a single division. Such asymmetric division if perturbed can lead to diseases. The lab is therefore interested in understanding how asymmetric division of neural stem cells is regulated and has developed tools involving chemical genetics to study the effects of acute inhibition of key enzymes that regulate cell polarity, the cell cycle and the actomyosin network to understand how cells become different from each other.

Jens said “I am indebted to my funders and current and past lab members whose contributions and input have been essential for the success of my lab. Moving to Dundee has been perhaps the most important career decision for me. The collegiality, collaborative mindset, vibrancy, and intellectual environment of our School has allowed me to develop my independent career and opened new research opportunities which I am excited to explore and develop further. I am very grateful to my mentors in the School and beyond that continue to support me as well as all our highly professional support staff. I feel privileged to be part of this phenomenal research institute at the University of Dundee”.

Stephen Land

Steve is part of the D’Arcy Thompson Unit where he was Programme Lead for Biomedical Sciences from 2014-2020 before focusing on the university’s globalisation strategy as Academic Regional Lead for Middle East and North Africa. He is currently working to develop a new integrated PhD programme in collaboration with the Doctoral Academy and schools across the university that will help to build research links around the globe. Steve co-chairs the university’s International Mobility Group which works to expand and diversify opportunities for undergraduate and master’s level student exchange and study abroad. Nationally, his activity has focused on pre-university students where he worked with a national qualifications provider to develop the first Employer Set Project assessment for the National Technical qualification in Healthcare Science. He will be publishing a primer textbook on Experimental Design and Statistics for Biologists with the Royal Society of Biology later this year. 

Steve said, “Like many others, I was the first of my family to go to university and originally wanted to become a fish farmer!  They wouldn’t have me, and so I studied for a PhD in Canada instead, embarking on a path that took me from the biochemistry of animal dormancy to ionic vibrating probe technologies, fetal lung development, rare respiratory diseases, biomedical education and, most recently, globalisation. This shows the power of higher education to deliver unimagined possibilities across a career. I am delighted to receive a Personal Chair from the university and the opportunity it gives to deliver transformative education for our students. I am very grateful to my family, my outstanding colleagues in the D’Arcy Thompson Unit, and friends in the Global Directorate who have helped me along the way”.  

Marios Stavridis

Marios is Associate Dean for Learning and Teaching and a member of the D’Arcy Thompson Unit. He started his academic career in the School of Medicine researching the molecular mechanisms controlling mouse embryonic stem cell differentiation. Since his move to the School of Life Sciences and what is now the D’Arcy Thompson Unit, he focused his work on student assessment, becoming the School’s first assessment lead. Between 2017-2020 he was Programme Lead for the Biological Sciences suite of programmes. He is currently leading a strategic review of the undergraduate portfolio aiming to rationalise module choices, improve the student sense of identity within the programmes and reduce overassessment. He recently chaired the working group that reviewed and revised the University’s Assessment Policy for Taught Provision which is currently going through its approval process.

Marios said, “I am absolutely delighted and honoured with the award of a Personal Chair from the University. It comes as recognition of work by a large team of people, both in D’Arcy Thompson Unit but also the rest of the School of Life Sciences and many colleagues from other Schools and Directorates, as well as students, who I would like to thank for their help and contributions. Most importantly I want to thank my friends and family for all their love and support- you have made this dream come true.”

Susan Wyllie

Susan Wyllie is head of the Mode of Action group and deputy head (joint) of the Division of Biological Chemistry and Drug Discovery. In 2015, Susan established her research group focused on supporting infectious diseases drug discovery through comprehensive mechanism of action/drug target deconvolution studies. In the last 9 years, the group has determined the mechanism of action of >50 chemical series. The group collaborates with key stakeholders (including Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline, DNDi, and academic groups from around the world) to deliver the best possible treatment options for those impacted by infectious diseases, particularly in Low and Middle-income countries. Susan’s team have pioneered the development of numerous genome-wide genetic tools, high-throughput compound screening platforms and chemical proteomics strategies to support drug target identification across a broad range of pathogens.

Susan said “I am absolutely delighted to be awarded a Personal Chair at the University of Dundee. Science is the most collaborative of endeavours, so I consider this award as recognition for the tireless efforts of my entire lab. Huge thanks to all lab members (past and present) and extra special thanks to my mentors, collaborators, friends, and family for their continuous support. It really does take a village!”

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