Welcome to our new PhD student - Graihagh Guille!

In this post, we welcome our new PhD student Graihagh Guille!

"I grew up on the South coast of the UK in a small sailing village, where rain or shine (mostly rain) people are always out on the water, so the opportunity to do research somewhere warm has been welcomed with open arms! I first found my love for research and amphibians through my dad who works at the University of Portsmouth. With my childhood pets including two South African clawed frogs named Fred and Freda I feel I was always destined to pursue a career in amphibian research.

Unsure of which avenue of research I wanted to pursue I set off on work experience at the Institute of Zoology (IoZ) in London aged 15. Here I cemented my preference for Zoology when I was first introduced to Chytridiomycosis and its impact on amphibians globally. During my BSc in Zoology at the University of Liverpool I went back to the institute for one month where I completed lab work for them and during this trip, I decided I wanted to continue on to do a masters. After finishing my undergrad in 2018, I headed on down to University College London to complete an MRes in Biodiversity Evolution and Conservation. Possibly to the dismay of everyone at IoZ this meant I was able to come back to complete a 16-week research project for one of my two master theses.

This project was a co-infection experiment with Bd and Ranavirus in Majorcan midwife toads. Roughly 1000 swabs, too many crickets and 6 weeks later I had learnt what animal experiments might look like. Despite the lack of sleep and the number of crickets in my hair I wasn’t deterred in the slightest and even enjoyed spending my weekends napping on the sofa in the tea room. Followed up by a lot of DNA extractions and qPCRs, this project proved to be the most challenging but exciting research I have completed in my studies and played a huge part in my choice to do a PhD.

Since finishing my masters in September 2019, I have had various random job roles from paralegal to nanny to animal technician. The highlight being looking after the 20,000 Xenopus at the European Xenopus Resource Centre (not on my own!) just to make sure I got my amphibian fix whilst I waited to escape to the Gold Coast. Outside academic life I also compete in Target Rifle and if I can find the time, hope to represent England/GB at both the Commonwealth games and Olympics in the future. Luckily for me Brisbane has great training facilities so if you can’t find me in the lab I’m probably at the range!

I feel extremely lucky to have found a PhD that expands on my previous experience and interests and will be looking at the interaction between environmental contaminants and chytrid in amphibians. All in all, I never had any doubt that I would end up in some sort of frog-related job and I couldn’t be more excited to continue that journey somewhere the sea doesn’t give you brain freeze!"