Justin Benesch

Justin is Professor of Biophysical Chemistry at the University of Oxford and Tutorial Fellow in Physical Chemistry at University College. Justin studied Chemistry at the University of Oxford, as a member of Hertford College. In 2001 he started a PhD in the laboratory of Carol Robinson in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge. After his PhD he spent a year as an MRC Discipline Hopping Fellow at Birkbeck College, London. Justin was awarded the Norman Heatley Award from the Royal Society of Chemistry and elected RSC Fellow in 2019.

Ellie Holden

Ellie completed her MSci in Natural Sciences with International Study at the University of Exeter, having spent a semester at ETH Zurich in Switzerland. Her masters project was centred on the entrance pathway of antibiotics into E.coli through the outer membrane porin F (OmpF) using HDX and complimentary electrophysiology techniques. Ellie is now at Lincoln College, studying for a DPhil with the Benesch Group. Her DPhil will focus on sHSPs found in cardiovascular tissues, using a combination of native Mass Spectrometry techniques and HDX and will explore the coupling of those techniques with rheology.

Angela Gehrckens

Angela completed her BSc in Biochemistry at the Georg-August-University in Goettingen, Germany, and her MSc in Biochemistry at the Ruprecht-Karls-University in Heidelberg, Germany. Her Master's research focused on the computational characterisation of electron transfer and radical pair dynamics in Drosophila melanogaster cryptochrome. In October 2019 she started her DPhil studies at Corpus Christi College, being jointly supervised by Justin Benesch and Peter Hore. In Justin's group she will further analyse different cryptochrome species as part of the research on magentoreception by using different mass spectrometry techniques, focussing on HDX-MS/

Joana Filipa Costeira Paulo

Joana (1)
Joana Filipa Costeira Paulo is a visiting scientist from the University of Uppsala in Sweden, and will be investigating how experimental conditions in native MS might affect the state of proteins and protein complexes. This is central for how transferable MS results are to the native cellular environment of the proteins under study.

Luke Smith

After playing football full time at Sheffield Wednesday Luke went to America on scholarship. He did a year in the north of Georgia at Young Harris college before transferring over to West Texas A&M. He graduated in May 2019 with summa cum laude honours in Chemistry. He is now a Master's student in the Benesch Group and will be using HDX to look at the structural dynamics and kinetics of certain proteins to gain a greater understanding of how they interact with each other and other substrates.

Wiktoria Sadowska

Wiktoria completed her MSci in Chemistry at the University of Warsaw and her Master's research was performed at the Polish Academy of Science in the Laboratory of Mass Spectrometry, where she was a scholar in Team-Tech-Core Project founded by Foundation for Polish Science. She analysed oligomerisation of the amyloid-beta peptide using a combination of native MS techniques. Wiktoria joined the Benesch Group and New College in November 2019 for her Dphil studies. Now she uses advanced MS techniques to analyse interactions between plant small heat shock proteins, their substrates, and other chaperones from heat-sensitive organisms in order to explore their mechanism of activity.

Josh Bishop


Josh did his undergraduate in biomedical science at the University of Lincoln. This was followed by a research project on a proteomic analysis of HSP90 interaction with Slt2. He finished his studies with a first and won the Joseph Banks Life Science Award. He is now a Master student in the Benesch group and will be looking at small HSP interaction and oligomerisation behaviour with fibril proteins for his thesis.

Guodong Cao


Guodong completed his undergraduate in Sichuan University, China and MRes in University College London. He has been working with multiple objects, including biomolecules, materials and small organic compounds, with different computational chemistry programs. He now uses molecular dynamic methods to analyse the structures and properties of certain protein molecules. Guodong is currently a DPhil student in Linacre College.

Dominik Saman

Dominik completed his MSci in Chemistry and Molecular Physics at Imperial College London. In his masters thesis, he focused on studying the thermal stability and conformational dynamics of adenylate kinase and its mutants using different fluorescence techniques. He now uses mass spectrometry to study coassemblies of various small heat shock proteins, their interactions, and relevance to biological function. Dominik is a Clarendon and John Henry Jones scholar and a student at Balliol College. He is supervised jointly with Carol Robinson.

Zihao Wang

Zihao completed his 3+2 project in Chemistry at Fudan University in Shanghai and the University of Birmingham. He is now a Dphil student at St Cross College. Zihao is focusing on Cardiovascular heat shock protein (cvHsp). Mass spectrometry and macromolecular X-ray crystallography are mainly used in order to study the structure of cvHsp and its interactions with substrates.

Catie Lichten

catie Lichten
The group's resident wordsmith, Catie helps with grant applications, journal manuscripts and other writing that comes her way. Before coming to Oxford, she worked at a non-for-profit public policy research institute in Cambridge and reported news about research policy and funding for publications Research Fortnight and Research Europe.

Catie's PhD focused on quantitative methods for studying protein networks in cells, and she has a Bachelor's degree in mathematics. Both degrees are from McGill University in Canada. She works jointly with Philipp Kukura's research group.

Sabine Huth

Sabine is PA to Justin Benesch and Philipp Kukura. After being a free-lance author for several years, she returned to the paid workforce in March 2019. She tries to keep everyone sane and happy.

Previous Group Members

Becky Andrews


Becky Andrews has done her Part II in the Benesch group and had joined us in November 2020. Her project was focused on alpha-synuclein aggregation and the effect of small heat shock proteins, including alphaB-crystallin and Hsp27. She was additionally supervised by Andy Baldwin  and utilized NMR, amongst other biophysical techniques, to study the kinetics of these aggregation mechanisms.

Lauren Parsons


Lauren did her Part II in the Benesch group during the 2020/2021 academic year. She was investigating various small heat shock proteins from plants and their interactions with biologically relevant molecules to better understand their mechanisms of action.

Chloe Ridsdill Smith


Chloe had also joined us in November 2020 for her Part II year. She was using advanced mass spectrometry techniques in order to investigate the role of the HSPB7 protein in suppressing irreversible protein aggregation.

Virginia Casablancas


Virginia is a doctoral student with the Systems Approaches to Biomedical Science CDT and had joined the group for her first rotation to study the mechanisms of amyloid protein aggregation and inhibition using NMR, mass spectrometry and computational tools. She is jointly supervised by Andy Baldwin as well as collaborators at LillyUK and continues to collaborate with the Benesch group.
Virginia completed an MRes in Molecular Biophysics at King’s College London, funded by a LaCaixa Fellowship for Postgraduate Studies in Europe. During her masters thesis in Prof. James McDonnell’s lab, she focused on the structural asymmetry and allostery of the immunoglobulin E constant region.

Shane Chandler

Shane completed his MChem undergraduate studies at the University of Durham and undertook an industrial placement with GlaxoSmithKline in his final year.  He is interested in developing and applying mass spectrometry techniques and methodologies to dynamical protein assemblies such as sHSPs. This will involve combining native mass spectrometry approaches including ion mobility and hydrogen/deuterium exchange strategies. Shane joined the group and University College in October 2014 and throughout his DPhil also spent time with Waters (Manchester, UK) as part of his BBSRC iCASE studentship. He is now working at GSK as a mass spectrometry expert.
(Oct 2014 - December 2019)

Emil Thomasen


Emil was working with the J-protein (HSP40) molecular chaperone DnaJB6. DnaJB6 forms polydisperse homo-oligomers, but the mechanism and functional role of oligomerization remains unknown. His work is focused on understanding the oligomerization properties of DnaJB6 and the structural and functional effects of LGMD1D-associated mutations using native mass spectrometry, NMR and other biophysical techniques.
(Oct 2018 - August 2019)

Christina Lee

Christina Lee is a student of biophysics from Columbia University, New York, who had been visiting us on a Laidlaw fellowship during summer 2019.

Reid Alderson

Reid studied Biochemistry (B.S.) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and was a DPhil student in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program, in which he was jointly supervised with Ad Bax and Andy Baldwin. Alongside other biophysical tools, Reid studied the structure and function of biomolecules with NMR spectroscopy and native mass spectrometry. He is now Banting Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto.
(Oct 2014- Oct 2018)

Carolin Schulte

Carolin is a doctoral student with the Interdisciplinary Bioscience DTP and was with the group for her second rotation, focusing on position-sensitive measurements of the interaction between sHSPs and filamentous proteins. She is a Clarendon and De Breyne scholar and a student at Keble College.

Before coming to Oxford, Carolin studied Biotechnology at RWTH Aachen University and did her undergraduate thesis project in the Bioprocess Laboratory at ETH Zurich.
(June 2018-Octo 2018)

Max Hantke

Max worked at the interface of physics and biology. His PhD studies focused on high-throughput flash X-ray imaging enabled by X-ray free-electron lasers (XFEL). His interests lie in method development and structural studies of inherently heterogeneous biological entities such as proteins, protein complexes, organelles, and virions.
Max completed his doctoral studies in biophysics at the University of Uppsala, Sweden and was awarded a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship to continue his research in Oxford. He joined the group in 2017 and left in 2018 to start work at the Refeyn Ltd.

Michael Barber

Michael studied Biological sciences at the University of Leeds and was a DPhil student with the University of Oxford’s Doctoral Training Partnership. Michael joined the group for his first DPhil rotation to study the dynamics of molecular chaperones using both mass spectrometry and NMR approaches. He is now a PhD student with Rob Gilbert and Andy Baldwin.
(Jan 2013 - Apr 2013)

John Close

John was an undergraduate of the chemistry department, and joined us from St. Peter's College as a Part II student. He studied cyanobacterial sHSP, and its interactions with target proteins, using mass spectrometry and X-ray crystallography.
(Oct 2014 - June 2015)

Miranda Collier

Miranda completed her DPhil in June 2018, having joined the group as a Clarendon scholar after graduating with a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She focused on interactions between human sHSPs and binding partners found in muscle, with implications for chaperone function in biomechanics. She used X-ray crystallography as well as a variety of mass spectrometry methods, and was particularly interested in adapting native mass spectrometry approaches to study functionally elastic proteins and highly polydisperse protein systems. Miranda has taken up a postdoctoral position at Stanford University in September 2018.
(Oct 2014 - June 2018; Jul 2012 - Aug 2012)

James Coote

James was a Part II student at University College. He studied the regulation of alphaB-crystallin dynamics by solution conditions mimicking cellular stress.
(Oct 2011- Jun 2012)

Matteo Degiacomi

Matteo obtained an MSc in Computer Science and a PhD in computational biophysics in Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland. While working under the supervision of Prof Matteo Dal Peraro, he focused on the development of POW, a flexible parallel optimization environment. POW was applied to the structural study of several macromolecular assemblies, including the pore-forming toxin Aerolysin and the basal body of type-III secretion system. While in our group, Matteo was developing new methods for the prediction of protein assembly using ion mobility, cross-linking, SAXS and electron microscopy data. Matteo has recently started his own research group at the University of Durham.
(Feb 2013 - June 2017)

Heidi Gastall

As part of her Natural Sciences degree at the University of Cambridge, Heidi did her final-year research project in the group when we were based in the Department of Chemistry there. Heidi’s work focussed on monitoring the temperature-related dynamic changes in sHSP structure. Heidi came to Oxford to join the Systems Biology Doctoral Training Centre and St Anne’s College, and will rejoined the group in July 2012 for her PhD.
(Oct 2012 - May 2016; Oct 2009 - June 2010)

Ben Girling

Ben was a chemistry undergraduate who joined us as a part II student from Hertford College. He was jointly supervised with Andy Baldwin combining the use of NMR and MS for studying the glycation of sHSPs, for which he was one of three students to receive a Thesis Prize from the Department. After his part II he left Oxford to study medicine.
(Oct 2013 - June 2014)

Joe Gough

Joe was a summer intern in our group, while pursuing his undergraduate studies. Joe worked on developing a web server or visualising the phenomenon of non-specific aggregation in electrospray mass spectrometry experiments.
(Jun 2013 - Aug 2013)

Gill Hilton

Gill obtained her PhD from the University of Warwick on the study of protein folding and misfolding, before moving to Oxford. Gill worked on the sHSPs, building and restraining structural models using ion mobility mass spectrometry, and incorporating restraints from other structural biology sources, particularly NMR and EM. She was also interested in understanding the regulation of sHSP dynamics on the amino-acid level, and was a college lecturer in Biochemistry at St Anne’s College. After joining AkzoNobel as mass spectrometry and NMR specialist, she is now analytical manager at CooperVision.
(Jan 2010 - Sep 2012)

Georg Hochberg

Georg studied Biological Sciences at Oxford and was a DPhil student at the Systems Biology Doctoral Training Centre and Pembroke College. He joined the group in 2011 and studied the structural and dynamical diversity of sHSPs in general. He went to the University of Chicago and did a Post Doc at the Thornton Lab.
(July 2011 - July 2015)

Yusuf Ismail

Yusuf was a biology and computer science undergraduate from Lake Forest College, Illinois, USA. As a member of the Grace Elizabeth Groner Foundation, Yusuf received a grant to pursue research with is as part of a service and learning program aimed to help students explore career paths. Working with Weston, Yusuf was using ion-mobility mass spectrometry to study glycans with the ultimate aim of identifying HIV glycans influential in neutralizing antibody recognition and affinity. After being a research assistant at the Rosalind Franklin University in North Chicago, Illinois until 2017 he is now doing an MSc in Bionics at the Rhine-Waal University in Germany. (Oct 2014 - July 2015)

Amelie Joffrin

Amelie was a summer intern in our group, during her undergraduate studies at the University of Durham. She expressed and purified point-mutants of alphaB-crystallin, and assessed their effects on its oligomerisation.
(Jul 2010 - Aug 2010)

India Kelly

India Kelly
India was a chemistry undergraduate at Magdalen College and was carrying out her PartII project with the group. She was studying mutations of alphaB-Crystallin to determine its oligomerisation properties using mass spectrometry techniques, with the ultimate aim of achieving a more controlled, polydisperse system.
(Oct 2016 - June 2017)

Oz Kilim

IMG_20171117_090536 2
Oz was a PartII student at Lincoln College. He studied Small heat shock proteins with the aid of Gas Phase HDX Techniques as well as Ion mobility measurements in order to further understand the surface chemistry of these Chaperones. (Oct 2017 - June 2018) 

Fran Kondrat

Fran obtained her PhD from the University of Warwick, where she used ion mobility mass spectrometry to investigate subtle conformational changes in metalloprotein structure. She was working on the dynamical, conformational, and client binding changes of variant sHSPs.
(Oct 2012 - Nov 2015)

Art Laganowsky

Art obtained his PhD in crystallography at UCLA, where he focussed on solving structures of sHSPs and amyloidogenic proteins. He has maintained an interest in the sHSPs since moving to Oxford, and in particular understanding the role of the core domain within the alpha-crystallins. Art has since moved to Texas A&M to start his own research group.
(Jul 2011-Jul 2014)

Hadi Lioe

Hadi came to the UK from the University of Melbourne, having received an EMBO Long-Term Fellowship. Hadi’s work focussed on elucidating the quaternary dynamics of sHSPs, and in particular alphaB-crystallin. Hadi also performed our early experiments on determining structural information on small heat shock proteins from ion mobility experiments. Hadi has since moved back to Melbourne, first as a Centernary Research Fellow at the University, and is now senior research scientist at CSL.
(Jan 2009 - Mar 2010)

Erik Marklund

Erik defended his PhD in Physics under the supervision of Prof David van der Spoel at Uppsala University, concerning structural aspects of proteins in the gas phase investigated by means of molecular dynamics. After a period of postdoctoral research on the biophysics of gene regulation in the laboratory of Prof Johan Elf in Uppsala he started his work at the Department of Chemistry in Oxford, where he developed new methods for calculating collisional cross sections of protein complexes and incorporating MS-derived structural data in simulations. He has recently started his own research group at Uppsala.
(Jan 2013 - June 2016)

Scott McGinnigle

Scott was a Chemistry undergraduate, and did his final-year PartII research project with us. Scott’s work was primarily focussed on assessing the affect of terminal regions of small heat shock proteins on their thermodynamic and kinetic stability.
(Oct 2010 - Jun 2011)

Jordan McKittrick-Hall

Jordan studied undergraduate economics at Washington and Lee University in Virginia before seeing the light and beginning his career as a scientist at Columbia University, where he studied for a bachelor's in biochemistry. At Columbia he worked in the Ruben Gonzalez lab for single-molecule biophysics to probe the mechanics of protein translation. Although Jordan may have left economics, economics hasn't left him, as he was here to research equilibrium approaches to sHSP oligomer distributions and the structures of their intermediate states. His approach was largely theoretical, so he split his time with the Jonathan Doye lab, which used statistical mechanics to study soft matter physics. Jordan is now doing a PhD at the University of Cambridge.
(Oct 2014 - May 2018)

Eleanor Moore

Ellie was an undergraduate Chemist from Jesus College and was completing the PartII year in the group. She investigated how alphaA crystallin subunit exchange rate varies with temperature in six fish adapted to different water temperatures to study how the structure, dynamics and function of the protein are related.
(Oct 2015 - June 2016) 

Daisy Nicholls

Daisy pic
Daisy was a chemistry undergraduate at Magdalen College and carryied out her part II project with the Benesch group. She studied a construct of HSP27 to learn more about its structure and dynamics, through both mass spectrometry and NMR techniques.
(Oct 2015 - June 2016) 

Alex Painter

Part of Alex-James’s PhD work was on developing and applying an automated mass spectrometry means for monitoring quaternary protein dynamics. In collaboration with Advion BioSciences, Alex-James adapted a nanoelectrospray robot to sample the subunit exchange reaction between two plant small heat shock proteins. This allowed him to simultaneously obtain information as to the dynamics and architecture of these proteins. Alex-James also obtained our first results on the binding of client proteins to the small heat shock proteins, revealing the remarkable dispersity of the resultant complexes. Alex now works in television.
(Oct 2004 - Mar 2008)

Dale Shepherd

Dale studied for his PhD in the lab of Professor Alison Ashcroft at the University of Leeds, investigating the conformational and higher order structural properties of viral protein complexes by mass spectrometry. In our group, together with that of Andrew Baldwin, he investigated the structural and dynamical target-binding properties of sHSPs using mass spectrometry and NMR spectroscopy.
(Mar 2013 - Mar 2015)