Alistair McCormick (Group Leader)

Alistair is a Professor of Plant Engineering Biology in the Institute of Molecular Plant Sciences and current Director of Edinburgh Plant Science. Alistair holds an MSc from the University of Stellenbosch and a PhD from the University of KwaZulu Natal, which he gained while at the South African Sugarcane Research Institute. He worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge and John Innes Centre before joining Edinburgh in October 2013 as a Chancellor’s Fellow. Alistair's research interests have centred around photosynthesis and how it can be manipulated to produce novel products or improve plant productivity. 

Publications available at Google Scholar.

Nicky Atkinson (Postdoctoral Researcher - UK)

Nicky obtained a PhD in Plant Science from the University of Leeds, studying the interaction of biotic and abiotic stresses in Arabidopsis and tomato. She then worked on host-pathogen interactions using viruses at The Roslin Centre, before joining Alistair's team in November 2014. Her project focuses on the improvement of photosynthetic efficiency in Arabidopsis by developing a CO2-concentrating mechanism based on that found in green algae. The aim of this is to improve productivity in C3 plants as well as increasing water use efficiency.

Lara Esch (Postdoctoral Researcher - Germany)

Lara is interested in plastid formation and architecture, metabolic functions, and environmental factors shaping plant metabolism. She received a Ph.D. from RWTH Aachen University, where she investigated broad-spectrum disease resistance in Poaceae. At the John Innes Centre, her work illuminated plastid dynamics' impact on starch granule morphogenesis in Arabidopsis leaves and grass seed endosperm. Lara is now focused on identifying key components for organizing the Chlamydomonas pyrenoid starch sheath, and aiming to apply this knowledge in the reconstruction of a functional pyrenoid-based CO2-concentrating mechanisms in plants.

Jessica Pritchard (Postdoctoral Researcher - UK)

Jess received an MSci in Plant Science from the University of Manchester, before undertaking a PhD at the University of Liverpool in 2019. Her PhD focused on understanding the molecular circadian regulation of CAM by using luciferase imaging in transgenic Kalanchoë. Her interests combining photosynthesis and bioengineering of plants for crop improvement led her to the McCormick lab in 2024, where she will be working on characterising and building a Chlorella-based CO2-concentrating mechanism in plants. 

Sophie Young (Postdoctoral Researcher - UK)

Sophie is broadly interested in plant physiology, in particular photosynthesis. She began her PhD at Lancaster University in 2019, where she investigated photosynthetic diversity in Euphorbiaceae to understand why C4 photosynthesis is so rare in trees. Prior to her PhD, she was a research assistant at the University of Cambridge, during which time she worked on characterising pyrenoid components in the model alga Chlamydomonas. In the McCormick Lab she will be returning to this area of research, working on installing a functional pyrenoid-based CO2-concentrating mechanism in Arabidopsis.

Erik Jensen (Postdoctoral Researcher - Chile)

Erik received his PhD in 2019 from the University of Aix-Marseille (France), where he studied the CO2-concentrating mechanisms of a very special – and beautiful – group of microalgae called diatoms. Then he did a postdoc at the IBPC in Paris, where he developed a new diatom model to study photosynthesis using nuclear and plastid mutagenesis. His current work in the McCormick lab involves engineering strategies to improve photosynthesis in the green algae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii.

Christina Bugert (Research Assistant - Germany)

Christina received her MSci in Biological Sciences with a specialisation in microbiology/infectious disease from the University of Exeter and has been working in both academia and industry since. Her interests in bioinformatics and bioengineering led her to pursue a bacterial synthetic biology-based role in the McCormick Lab, where she is currently working on an expanding the available tools for cyanobacterial engineering biology, including an extension of the CyanoGate Modular cloning toolkit.


Yuwei Mao (Darwin Trust PhD Student - China)

Yuwei obtained an MSc in Developmental Biology from the Institute of Botany at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, studying the molecular mechanisms how cotton and Arabidopsis respond to heat stress. Her work focuses on engineering Rubisco and introducing pyrenoid-based CO2-concentrating mechanism components into Arabidopsis and tobacco.

Angelo Victoria (Darwin Trust PhD Student - Philippines) 

Angelo received his BSc in Biology and MSc in Genetics from the University of the Philippines Diliman. He is interested in expanding the utility of current synthetic biology tools to fast-growing and filamentous cyanobacteria. Being a nature-loving academic, he enjoys teaching and being out-and-about exploring green spaces. He is almost always found in the wild with a cup of coffee in-hand.

Ella Catherall (BBSRC-EastBio PhD Student - UK) 

Ella studied for her BA in Natural Sciences, with a specialisation in Plant Science, at the University of Cambridge. She is working on introducing components of the Chlamydomonas pyrenoid into rice.  

Mikey Astbury (BBSRC-EastBio PhD Student - UK) 

Mikey obtained his BA in Natural Sciences (Plant Sciences) at the University of Cambridge. Fascinated by the potential of cyanobacteria in biotechnology, his work focuses on developing the fast-growing marine strain Synechococcus sp. PCC11901 for use in carbon capture and as a platform to produce high value compounds.

James Dodd (School of Engineering PhD Student with Dr Katherine Dunn - UK) 

James received his MBiolSci in Biological Sciences from the University of Liverpool, with a focus on molecular, synthetic, and microbiology. He has worked on engineering Pdu microcompartments in Salmonella and using comparative genomics to identify pigment biosynthesis proteins in Heliobacteria. His interests in bioengineering, nanotechnology and energy security led him to pursue a collaborative PhD between the Dunn and McCormick labs working on the development of electrosynbionic devices using DNA nanotechnology and cyanobacteria.


Somesh Hariharno (visiting MSc student, Gujarat Biotechnology University - India)


Previous members of the lab:




Aranzazú Díaz-Ramos (Postdoctoral Researcher - Mexico)

Anja Nenninger (Postdoctoral Researcher - Germany)

Liat Adler (BBSRC-EastBio PhD Student - UK)

Alvaro Herrera Seller (Honours Student - Spain)

Alejandro Saldana Jauregui (MSc Student - Mexico) 





Imeltine van Essen (Honours Student - The Netherlands) 

Henrik Larsen (MSc Student - France) 

Alejandra Schiavon Osorio (CONACYT PhD Student - Mexico)

Anton Puzorjov (IBIOIC PhD Student - Estonia)



Grant Gale (BBSRC-CASE PhD Student - UK)



Krzysztof Pukacz (Honours Student - Poland)

Mert Unal (Research Assistant - Turkey)

Anlin Ruan (MSc Student - China)

Emily Oliver (3rd Year Summer Student - UK)



Charlotte von Koppenfels (Honours Student - Germany)

Olivia Fraser (Honours Student - UK)



Livia Scorza (Postdoctoral Researcher - Brazil)

Panupon Khumsupan (Darwin Trust PhD Student - Thailand)

Sophie Donovan (BBSRC-EastBio PhD Student - UK) 

Alexandros Vardakis (Darwin Trust MPhil Student - Greece)

Marta Kozlowska (Honours Student - Poland)

Simran Kapoor (2nd Year Summer Student - India)

Mohammad Hasan (MSc Student - Bangladesh)





Corinna Hartinger (Honours Student - Germany)

 Milton Romero Gordillo (MSc Student - Ecuador)

Ravi Vasudevan (Postdoctoral Researcher - India)




Christos Velanis (Postdoctoral Researcher - Greece)


Maia Morgan (Honours Student - Trinidad & Tobago)

Ling Ng (Honours Student - Malaysia)

Hamish Bettany (MSc Student - UK)

Eva Steele (2nd Year Summer Student - UK)



Jiawen Chen (2nd Year Student - Netherlands/China)

Anton Puzorjov (Honours Student - Estonia)

John Malin (MSc Student - USA)

Theo Paquet (MSc Student - France)

Maximilian Hartung (2nd Year Student, EastBio Research Experience Placement - Germany)



Fani Ntana (MSc Student - Greece)

Andrei Dobrescu (MSc Student -  Romania)



Antri Georgiou (MSc Student - Cyprus)

Kate Gilbert (MSc Student - USA)

Faziera Salim (MSc Student - Malaysia)

Armin Kubis (MSc Student, Jeff Schell Scholarship - Germany)