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Olivia Knapp


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Olivia is a fourth-year PhD student at the University of Manchester. Her research is focused on understanding the properties and functions of molecular knots and machines in the field of supramolecular chemistry. Before her PhD, Olivia obtained a First Class Honours in Chemistry MChem from the University of Oxford. 

As Chair, she looks forward to strengthening the current networking platform between early career researchers and biotechnology sector professionals.

In her free time, Olivia enjoys playing tennis, watching rugby and playing the saxophone.

© 2022 Olivia Knapp

Magnus Speirs



Magnus is a third-year PhD student at the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology. His project involves studying the unnatural photoactivity of flavin-based enzymes, using both computational chemistry techniques, such as time-dependent density functional theory, and a femtosecond pulsed IR laser. He obtained his masters in Edinburgh, where he achieved a first in Chemistry with industrial experience (Mchem).

As Co-Chair for NWBI, Magnus hopes to organise events to connect academics and students with the rapidly expanding biotech industry. He hopes to help foster a greater understanding of what makes a successful biotech company within the academic community as well as help introduce great ideas and people to the wider biotech community.

In his spare time, Magnus enjoys hiking in the Lake District and playing board games.

© 2022 Magnus Speirs

Akhila Ajith


Operation Manager

Akhila is a first-year PhD student based at the Photon Science Institute, University of Manchester. Her project is on the use of mass spectrometry imaging methods for the spatial chemical profiling of plant leaves for agrochemicals in collaboration with the Agritech company, Syngenta. Before coming to the UK for her PhD, she did her integrated Bachelor’s and Master of Science programme in Chemistry at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh, India.


She aspires to do translational research and wishes to help bridge the gap between academic and commercial research for students.


When not in the research realm, she likes to binge-watch documentaries, play table tennis and go for hikes.

© 2022 Akhila Ajith

Caroline Gehin

Finance Manager


Caroline is a first-year PhD student at the University of Manchester with a passion for analytical chemistry. Her research is focused on exploring human sebum as a biofluid for the diagnosis of respiratory diseases. Before her PhD, Caroline worked for 5 years as a Senior Analytical Scientist of Chemical Development for AstraZeneca, UK. Here, she helped develop analytical methodology and control strategies for small molecule projects. Having just come out of industry, she has a keen interest and aims to build closer connections between academia and industry, which she hopes to do as an NWBI committee member.

In her free time, she enjoys cooking, watching movies, and running.

© 2022 Caroline Gehin

Marium Zaidi

Operations Manager

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Marium is a fourth-year medical student at the University of Manchester after having attained a BSc (Hons) in Medicine from the University of St Andrews. During her time at university, she has organised several large-scale events, including conferences.
She is hoping that her time on the committee as Operations Manager broadens her understanding of the biotechnology field whilst also allowing her to meet lots of like-minded individuals.
In her free time, Marium enjoys baking and is always keen on trying new recipes!

© 2022 Marium Zaidi

Emil Volk

Finance Manager

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After graduating with a First-Class Honours degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Manchester, Emil stayed with the University to pursue a PhD focused on the production of green hydrogen, pioneering the development of novel vibrational spectrographic techniques for the in-operando analysis of electrochemical reaction mechanisms that govern the production of H2.

With a strong interest in both the Energy and Biotechnology sectors, he would like to bring these fields closer together to help tackle the current energy and climate crisis through multi-disciplined networking and informational events for students across all stages of their development. 

When not in the library or the lab. he enjoys hiking, wild swimming, watching the stars go by, or just enjoying the cinema if the weather is bad.

© 2022 Emil Volk

Miriam Montserrat Vega-Gordillo

Diversity and Inclusion Officer

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Montserrat Vega (she, her) is an enthusiastic biotech entrepreneur with an interest in the biomedical sector. Currently in the second-year of a dual Manchester-Beijing PhD programme, she focuses on applying synthetic biology and AI to develop novel therapeutic approaches for cancer. Montserrat has joined different scientific projects in Mexico, Spain and Canada and launched innovation/startup ventures in Romania and LATAM, aiming at cultivating the seeds of a more inclusive world. 

During her spare time, she loves playing chess, theatre and exercising, among many other things!

© 2022 Miriam Montserrat Vega-Gordillo

Amar Rai

Operations Manager

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Amar is a final-year student on the MChem Chemistry with Industrial experience course at the University of Manchester, having recently completed his placement at RSSL, working in pharmaceutical Chemistry. He has a keen interest in the pharmaceutical  and biotech industry as well as analytical and computational chemistry.  Alongside his role at NWBI, Amar is also on the committee for the chemistry society at the University.

Amar hopes to help people make the connection between academia and industry and inspire the next generation, while broadening his own knowledge in the biotech field.


Outside the lab, Amar loves football and table tennis.

© 2022 Amar Rai

Megan Taylor

Operations Manager

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Megan is a second-year BBSRC DTP student whose project is focussed on the selective inhibition of pro-inflammatory microRNA’s for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Megan graduated as the University of Leeds’ highest-achieving Medical Science student, including a year-in-industry, where she worked as a Quality Assurance Assistant for an innovative medical devices company, The Binding Site. As well as academic experience, Megan worked through the pandemic as a Biotechnologist, manufacturing the Oxford Astra-Zeneca COVID vaccine. For her professional internship as part of her PhD programme, Megan is working for a virtual drug discovery company, C4X Discovery, learning how to select the next generation targets for curing intractable diseases. 


Alongside her PhD, Megan works for a virtual tuition agency, aiming to ignite a passion for science in the younger generation. In her spare time, you’ll either find Megan in the gym or out enjoying Manchester’s best bars and restaurants!

© 2022 Megan Taylor

Petr Broz

Operations Manager


Petr is a second-year PhD student based at the University of Manchester. After completing his BSc in Biotechnology, he went to pursue a PhD focusing on the production of Covid-19 antigens in plants in hopes to manufacture a cheaper and more effective version of a Covid-19 vaccine.


As a part of the committee, Petr hopes to organise events making biotech more interesting and approachable to the public.


Outside of the lab, Petr enjoys climbing, skiing, cooking, and travelling.

© 2022 Petr Broz

Henrik Wong

Operations Manager


Henrik is a first-year PhD student with Postgraduate Research Teaching Associate (PGRTA) Scholarships based at the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, The University of Manchester. His project is on the use of quantum chemical calculations to determine the effect of electric fields on catalytic reaction mechanisms. Before his PhD, he completed his bachelor's and integrated Master of Chemical Engineering programme (MEng) at the University of Manchester with First-Class Honours. 

He aims to improve the catalyst activity and selectivity of enzymes. Furthermore, to help persuade the use of sustainable feedstock such as enzymes in chemical reactions to promote green chemistry practices in the industry. 

When he is not found in the John Garside Building or the Engineering building. He is most likely exercising, catching up on his diaries or playing badminton

© 2022 Henrik Wong

Charis Whyte

Operations Manager


Charis is a first-year PhD student at the University of Manchester having just completed their master's degree in Mechatronics engineering. Their project combines machine learning and wearable technology to create systems that recognise and identify physiological reactions and emotional states. 
During their masters, they had the experience of working internships with the University of Manchester and Siemens Mobility for which they are excited to apply their skills. Moving into the world of medical engineering, Charis is excited to network with a broader audience and explore the world of biotechnology and bioelectronics. 
Outside of electronics Charis is a keen PC gamer and self-confessed nerd enjoying various games and media. As well as spreading STEM knowledge via tutoring and volunteering to help out the community.

© 2022 Charis Whyte

Won Young Yoon

Undergraduate Representative


Won Young is a medical student at the University of Manchester with a First Class Honours iBSc in Biomedical Engineering from Imperial College London. He is interested in MedTech, particularly the development, certification and entrepreneurship of medical devices and the use of AI in medical settings. 
​Having planned large-scale medical technology and research conferences before, Won Young is the Undergraduate Representative of NWBI. Previously, he was the Operations Lead (2018-20) and General Secretary (2020-21) since joining in November 2018.​
He is also the President of the Manchester Medical Research Society and President of Manchester MedTech (Spoke of NIHR Surgical MedTech Co-operative - MedTech Foundation).

© 2022 Won Young Yoon

Iaroslav "Ross" Michurin



Ross is a final-year PhD student at the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, The University of Manchester. His project focuses on structural biology for biofuels. Ross holds a First Class Honours degree in Chemistry with Industrial Experience from The University of Manchester (MChem, Class of '18)

Last year Ross was a Vice-chair of the NWBI, and NWBI won two awards from the Students' Union. Ross joined NWBI in 2019 to be a General Secretary. This year he continues as an Advisor, and he is hoping to contribute to the diverse experience of the committee and continue the successful track record of the Society.
Outside the lab, Ross is a keen swimmer and cinemagoer.

© 2022 Iaroslav Michurin
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