Dr Michelle Strickland

Advanced Research Assistant

I research and develop methods for extracting high molecular weight DNA for the Darwin Tree of Life Project and prepare libraries for Oxford Nanopore sequencing.

I joined the newly-formed Tree of Life Programme in October 2019, the UK-wide initiative to sequence the genomes of all 60,000 eukaryotic species in the British Isles. Currently, as a member of the Darwin Tree of Life (DToL) Core Laboratory Team I am experimenting with cryogenic disruption and whole nucleus extraction methods. As part of the team I work with a very wide variety of samples (including but not limited to arthropods, molluscs and plants) extracting high molecular weight DNA and preparing DNA sequencing libraries for PacBio and Oxford Nanopore Technologies platforms. I have also prepared HiC libraries for sequencing on Illumina platforms.

I was seconded to Sanger Scientific Operations between March – June 2020 as part of a research and development team looking into multiplex sequencing of the COVID-19 virus on long-read platforms.

Prior to joining the Sanger Institute I was a Research Assistant with the Bowman group at the University of Aberdeen investigating the expression of pheromone genes in the larvae of the honey bee Apis mellifera as part of a project uncovering the methods by which the Varroa mite infest and reproduce in honey bee colonies.

As a PhD researcher in Sara Goodacre’s SpiderLab at the University of Nottingham I studied the genetic, molecular and structural properties of spider silk. In particular I examined the silken webs spun by the diving bell spider Argyroneta aquatica, the only spider in the world able to live an aquatic lifestyle – hunting, feeding, mating and reproducing underwater. I gained experience in transcriptomics, de novo DNA assembly, phylogenetics, scanning electron microscopy, tensile testing and spider husbandry.

I have given public talks on my own and colleagues’ research, including as part of PubHD and Pint of Science and at the technology festival EMF camp. I have also featured on the BBC’s Science In Action and the Nature Heredity podcast.

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