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.

Laila Shah

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Laila graduated in August 2021 with a MSci in chemistry from King’s College London. During her Master’s research project, she investigated the dynamics and inhibition of transmembrane protein AcrA using hydrogen-deuterium exchange mass spectrometry. Laila is now at St Cross College studying for a DPhil with the Benesch group where she will be looking at interaction partners of crypto chromes using mass spectrometry techniques.

Olav Johannesen

Olav graduated with a double bachelor’s degree in chemistry and physics from the University in Tromsø, Norway in June 2021. As part of his chemistry degree he contributed to a project regarding ab initio quantum chemistry simulations using adaptable multitesolution basis sets. He embarked on his DPhil at St Peter's college in October 2021, and has been a part of the group since. Using a combination of empirical methods, most notably charge detection mass spectrometry, and mathematical modelling, his work now focuses on the connection between the quaternary structure heterogeneity of small heat shock proteins and their chaperone function.

Navoneel (Neel) Sen

Neel was born in Calcutta, India and pursued a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry at St. Stephen's College, University of Delhi.. After graduation in 2019 he moved to Oxford to do his Masters in the group of Jonathan Doye where he worked on DNA origami force sensors. He joined the Benesch group and Balliol College in October 2021 to start his DPhil. For his DPhil, he intends to use a range of computational techniques like molecular dynamics and AlphaFold to gain insight into the structure and physical properties of proteins involved in cardiac muscle elasticity and hemolysis. Outside the lab he enjoys photography, cooking and reading

Konstantin Zouboulis

Konstantin obtained his MSc and BSc degrees in Chemistry from ETH Zurich in Switzerland. He joined Harvard CCB for his masters thesis, where his research focused on developing approaches towards a rational design of molecular glues using chemical proteomics. He is now part of the Wellcome LEAP Nanoquest Team at Oxford. Working closely with Madhavi Krishnan he aims to investigate if escape-time electrometry, a technique developed by the Krishnan group allowing for simple, rapid and highly sensitive in-solution charge detection can be applied for the study of meaningful protein-based systems with a particular focus on bimolecular binding interactions. Konstantin is a student at Lincoln College and jointly supervised by Hagan Bayley.

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 project focusses on cardiac mechanosensitive proteins and mapping the regions that extend under force using hydrogen deuterium exchange mass spectrometry, she also looks at how this extension is modified by the binding of small heat shock proteins.

Angela Gehrckens

Angela completed her B.Sc. in Biochemistry at the Georg-August-University in Goettingen, Germany, and her M.Sc. in Biochemistry at the Ruprecht-Karls-University in Heidelberg, Germany. Her Master's research conducted at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research focused on the computational characterisation of electron transfer in Drosophila melanogaster cryptochrome. Continuing research on the wider subject of magnetoreception, she started her DPhil studies at Corpus Christi College in October 2019, being jointly supervised by Justin Benesch and Peter Hore. She is currently working on analysing the nature of oligomers and conformational changes of avian cryptochromes 4, the putative magnetoreceptors allowing avian long-distance navigation, and their interactions with downstream interaction partners using a mix of native MS, molecular dynamics, EPR and HDX-MS, with a focus on the latter. 

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 obtained his BSc in biomedical science at the University of Lincoln where he performed a proteomic analysis of SHP90 interactions with Slt2. He is now a Dphil student in the Benesch Group and is developing a novel analysis approach for Mass Photometry that expands the analytical capability of current instrumentation.

Guodong Cao


Guodong completed his undergraduate in Sichuan University, China and MRes in University College London. Before joining the Benesch group, he focused on molecular dynamics simulations for protein-material interactions and studying aromatic molecules with quantum mechanics. He now applies molecular dynamic simulations to study protein-protein interactions, as well as programming for protein complex modelling, analysis and visualisation. Guodong is currently a DPhil student in Linacre College.

Dominik Saman

Dominik joined the group in 2017 as a Clarendon scholar after finishing a masters degree in Chemistry and Molecular Physics at Imperial College London. During his DPhil, he studied how different small heat-shock proteins interact mainly using native mass spectrometry, mass photometry and chemical kinetics. Secondary, he also looked at the evolution of the quaternary structure of these protein and its relevance for their function. After finishing his DPhil, Dom decided to stay with the group as a post doc, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, further expanding on his DPhil research broadly focusing on the description of entropy in complex protein assemblies. In his free time, he enjoys gaming and hiking.

Zihao Wang


Zihao started the role as a postdoc funded by MRC after finishing a DPhil with Justin. During his PhD, he did structural analysis for cardiac-specific chaperones and their binding partners. He will carry on his studies which are relevant with heart diseases into deeper levels using a variety of biophysical techniques including mass spectrometry, macromolecular crystallography and cryo-EM.

Francesca Naughton-Allen

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Francesca was a PartII student and joined us in the 2021/22 academic year. We are delighted to welcome her back as a Dphil in 2023.

Sabine Huth


Sabine is PA to Justin Benesch, Philipp Kukura and Andrew Baldwin. After being a free-lance author for several years, she returned to the paid workforce in March 2019. Her background in project management helps her to keep everyone relatively sane and happy. She enjoys living in Oxford, nipping down to London, going for runs along the river Thames, and is a nature enthusiast, particularly fond of Wales and its beaches, the ridgeway, pebbled shores and any excuse to hike for hours.

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.

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)

Joana Filipa Costeira Paulo

Joana Costeira-Paulo initially joined as a visiting scientist from the University of Uppsala in Sweden in 2020 and was then a postdoc after completing her PhD in October in 2021. Joana has been 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. She was also developing of a new computational tool to calculate  collision cross-section (CCS) that is both accurate and fast and to convert this research-grade algorithm and code into software that can be released and commercialised. The fast high-accuracy calculation CCS compared with that of experimental CCS will enable unambiguous identification and characterisation of molecules. In her spare time, Joana is an enthusiastic watercolour artist.

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)

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)

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.

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)

Mark Hiscox

Mark was a PartII in the Benesch group and is now working at Deloitte.

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

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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)

Catie Lichten

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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.

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.

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)

Mohammed Masum


Masum was a Part II student in the Benesch Group in the academic year 22/23.

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) 

Georgina Mullan


Georgie joined the group in September 2021 for her Part II year.
Her project was focused on Class II small heat shock proteins found within plants. To study their interaction with natural substrates, Georgie used several mass spectrometry techniques.