Current lab members:


Clarissa Melo Czekster – Group Leader

I am from Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, where I went to college to obtain a BSc in Molecular Biology (2001-2004), a teaching degree in Biological Sciences (2003-2005), and an MSc in Biochemistry (2006-2008) at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS). I moved to New York city for a PhD in enzymology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine with John S. Blanchard (2008-2012). After my PhD I went to Yale University to join Alanna Schepartz’s laboratory as a postdoc, working with beta-amino acids and the ribosome (2012-2014). I moved to the UK as a postdoc in Jim Naismith’s group at the University of St Andrews (2015-2017), where I worked with toxic cyclic peptides from mushroom and cyanobacteria.

Since 2017 I have been an independent research fellow in St Andrews, and in 2018 I was awarded a Sir Henry Dale Fellowship from the Wellcome Trust to establish my lab in St Andrews.

Clarissa Czekster on Google Scholar



Christopher J. Harding – Postdoctoral fellow

I am  from Preston, where I grew up before moving to Birmingham to obtain an MSci in Biochemistry from the University of Birmingham (2010-2014). I stayed on at the University of Birmingham for my PhD (2014-2018), where I worked in the laboratory of Dr Andrew Lovering. My PhD, titled “Structural and Functional Investigations of Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus Lifecycle Proteins” involved characterising a number of unrelated protein targets. I have now moved to the University of St. Andrews to begin my first Postdoc position in the laboratory of Dr Clarissa M Czekster




Alison Dickson – Postdoctoral researcher – Mass spec Analyst

I am originally from Dunfermline and studied for an MChem(Hons) in Medicinal and Biological Chemistry at The University of Edinburgh (2008-2013).   After this I worked for about 3 years in the pharmaceutical industry, where I mainly developed bioanalytical mass spectrometry based assays to support drug discovery and development programmes. In 2016 I moved to Swansea, Wales to study for a PhD under the supervision of Professor W.J Griffiths. My project involved developing mass spectrometry based methods to help elucidate novel cholesterol metabolites and biosynthesis pathways in healthy as well as rare disease affected pregnancy.  In 2020 I moved to the lab of Dr Clarissa M Czekster at St Andrews to support the mass spectrometric analysis of novel ProTide therapeutics.


Rebecca Cornwell – Public Engagement Officer

Originally from St Andrews, I graduated from the University of Durham with a BSc (Hons) in Applied Physics (1994) followed by a PGCE (with Qualified Teacher Status) from the University of Exeter (1995). I began teaching in Dorset, moving to Cambridge and then back home to St Andrews. I obtained Full Registration with the GTCS and, as well as, returning to teaching in Fife, I have held roles including Education Tutor at St Andrews Botanic Garden. Starting from studying Open University short courses, I went on to graduate with an MRes in Environmental Biology with Distinction (Conversion Course, 2011) from the University of St Andrews. I then graduated from the University of Dundee with an MPhil in Applied Mathematics (Mathematical Biology) for a thesis entitled “The Dynamics of Natural Enemy Resistance in Aphid Populations” (2016). I am a Member of the Institute of Physics, Chartered Physicist and Member of the Royal Entomological Society. I have joined the Czekster lab as Public Engagement Officer for the “Antibiotics under our feet” project.



Peijun (Gary) Tang – Research Associate – Biocatalysis

I am from Shanghai China, where I attended a cooperation program between Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and London Metropolitan University, obtaining a BSc in Pharmacy and Herbal Medicinal Science (2011-2015). Then I completed my MSc in Pharmaceutical Science & Medicinal Chemistry at Loughborough University (2015 – 2016). Then, I moved to Edinburgh, where I started my PhD with Prof. Campopiano’s group (2016 – 2020) funded by Edinburgh Global Research Scholarship focusing on the ‘Exploring the structure and function of key enzymes involved in microbial sphingolipid biosynthesis’. Based on the interest on enzymology, I started my first job in the Dr. Clarissa M Czekster lab in the University of St. Andrews from 2021.



Thomas Powell – Research assistant – Mass spec

Originally from Inverness, I moved south of the border to Shropshire where the majority of my pre-university life happened. I felt the call to move back to Scotland and attended Edinburgh Napier University to attain my BSc (Hons) in Biomedical Science (2011-2016). Following my undergraduate degree, I moved to St. Andrews to fulfil a technician position developing a novel antibiotic susceptibility testing device, called SLIC, and to develop a molecular assay for bacterial chronic obstructive pulmonary disease diagnostics with Professor Stephen Gillespie and Dr Robert Hammond in the St. Andrews School of Medicine (2017-2020).

At the start of 2021 I joined the Czekster Lab in the St. Andrews School of Biology to build upon the service capacity of the Mass Spectrometry team, particularly in the context of ProTide therapeutic development alongside Professor David Harrison’s and NuCana’s research.




Charlene E. Ogilvie – PhD student

I am from Dundee, where I attended college to obtain a Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Applied Science and a Higher National Diploma (HND) in Biomedical Science. I have since completed an integrated masters in biochemistry – MBiochem (Hons) – at the University of St Andrews (2014-2019) and have chosen to stay here to complete my postgraduate studies in the laboratory of Dr Clarissa M. Czekster. My PhD project will aim to identify whether cyclic peptides influence interspecies interactions in the mouth microbiota.






Emmajay Sutherland – PhD student

I am originally from Motherwell, North Lanarkshire however I completed my undergraduate studies at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. During my degree, I was given the opportunity to work within an industrial environment with MOF Technologies Ltd, Belfast (2017-2018). I graduated from Heriot-Watt in 2019 with an MSci in Chemistry with Industrial Experience. I have since started my postgraduate studies at the University of St Andrews with Dr Clarissa M. Czekster on a PhD project entitled “Exploiting cyclic dipeptides as novel anti-cancer therapeutics”





Martha Simpson – PhD student

I am originally from Northampton in the East Midlands but moved to York in 2015 to begin my undergraduate studies in Biochemistry. As part of my degree, I undertook a year in industry at Allergan Biologics in Liverpool, where I used LC-MS to characterise antibody-based therapeutics. I (virtually) graduated from the University of York in 2020 with an MBiochem integrated masters. I have since moved to St Andrews to carry out a PhD project under the supervision of Dr Clarissa M. Czekster. My project will involve characterising bacterial and mammalian proteins which are involved in regulating protein degradation as part of the N-end rule.




Past lab members: 

Hamizan Amran (summer student) –

Ethan Andrews (final year student) –

Pierce Bozeat (final year student) –



Lyssa Gold (MSc(Res)) – PhD student in Dundee/Ninewells (starting September 2021)