Meet the founders

Oly Bartley

Class: English Dandy:
+ (6) Kookiness
+ (2) Posh-Snobbery
+ (4) Facetious whimsy

Base Equipment:
A Silly Bear Hat + (3) Childish nature
A Totoro Wallet + (5) Conversation starter

Beast to Tackle: The Brain Domain and regenerative medicine

Bio: Oly received his first degree in Human Psychology from Aston University, where he also picked up the university prize for his research manipulating metacognition to enhance intrinsic memory processes. He is now a PhD student on the Integrative Neuroscience Wellcome Trust Course at Cardiff University. His research project involves refining regenerative medicines for neurological loss, modelled in Huntington’s Disease, specifically studying the role of epigenetic memory in induced pluripotent stem cells. Previously he worked with patients of neurodegenerative disorders in end-of-life care and in neurological rehabilitation in an acquired brain injury unit, where his interest in atrophic neurological illnesses was originally born and fostered.

Outside of Neuroscience, Oly is a pretty decent cook. For instance, right now, whilst writing this brief biography, he has banana bread in the oven. Who doesn’t love banana bread? Nobody. That’s who. Otherwise he has a whole host of hobbies, perhaps the most painful of which is his love of Pokémon: it’s so bad that he spends some of his spare time making his own fan game. Maybe one day the Pokémon Company and Nintendo will realise they need a neuroscientist to help design their next game? Until then, he’ll settle for helping people by generating new bits of brain.

Kira Rienecker

Class: Token American
+ (8) Kinetic Energy
+ (6) Lion Hair
+ (4) Spontaneous Dancing

Base Equipment:
Colour mismatched shoes + (3) Style
Blaster Hip Bag + (2) Steam-punk Storage

Beast to Tackle:  Neuroepigenetics

Bio: Kira is a PhD student in Integrative Neuroscience at Cardiff University. She received a Bachelor of Science in Genetics and a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of California in 2014. She should have also received a Bachelor of Athletics in Track and Field Heptathlons, because she sure spent enough time on that, but apparently those aren’t a thing. Perfectly comfortable as a dreamer of improbable dreams, Kira is very interested in synthesizing disparate concepts to find new perspectives with which to challenge our world-views. It doesn’t take much to guess her scientific interest (neuroepigenetics), as she won’t shut up about it. Her PhD is focused on an imprinted gene called GRB10 and its role in brain and behavior. (Yes, behavior. Why do you insist on extra letters people?)

Rachael Stickland

 Rosy Rambler
+ (5) Adventure planning
+ (3) Cheerful disposition

Base Equipment:
Moral compass + (3) Direction
Badass Bicycle + (2) Exploration

Beasts to tackle: The Linux Lich

Bio: Rachael received her first degree, a Psychology BSc, from the University of Reading. Here she developed an interest in psychology, neuroscience and mathematics. Whilst at Reading, she volunteered for Student Minds, and worked for a year as a research assistant, investigating ways to facilitate language recovery post-stroke.

Now she is doing a Neuroscience PhD at Cardiff University, based at CUBRIC, and funded by The Wellcome Trust. She focuses on investigating energy dynamics in the brain, trying to answers questions such as: How does the vascular system respond to brain activity? How does the right amount of oxygen get delivered to the brain tissue that needs it? How are these mechanisms impaired in the disease Multiple Sclerosis? This involves measuring neural activity (using Magnetoencephalography) and the vascular response (using fMRI).

Oh yeah, and she’s a big fan of wombats. 

Johnathan Fagg

Class: Internet Explorer
+ (6) Wordplay
+ (5) Coffee Dependency

Base Equipment:
Anecdotes + (3) Charm
Semi-Colons + (2) Grammar
Grappling Hook + (3) Dexterity

Beast to tackle: The Folly of Man.

Bio: Jon is really quite interested in science, but is not a scientist. So, what is he doing here? Well, he has turned this lack of expertise into a positive, and helps neuroscientists explain their work to others who haven’t spent years studying the brain.

Jon is a qualified teacher and graduate of the University of Birmingham’s BA in English & American Literature. Currently a student on Cardiff University’s MSc in Computational & Data Journalism, Jon strives to make writing accurate, accessible and interesting.

Also, he once got retweeted by Scroobius Pip, which is a big deal, if you’ve heard of Scroobius Pip.

Rae Pass

Class: Warrior in training
+ (∞) Clumsiness
+ (3) Busy Bee

Base equipment:
Angry White Pyjamas + (4) Ninja Skills
Fantasy Books + (7) Imagination

Beast to tackle: Neurodegenerative nasties & mental health monsters.

Bio: Rae has always been fascinated by diseases and disorders of the human body. She is studying a PhD at the NMHRI, where she had previously worked trying to persuade cells to grow. Her PhD focuses on characteristing a model carrying a gene mutation implicated in schizophrenia. She received her undergraduate degree in Biology and Psychology from Keele University, and was most passionate about studying brain diseases. After a brief interlude for her biology dissertation, spent chasing frogs around a Honduran jungle, she went on to obtain a MRes Biosciences (Neuroscience and Translational Medicine) from the University of Bath.

When not in the lab Rae likes geeking out about various books, games, tv-shows and movies, to the point she could cameo on the Big Bang Theory. Additionally she spends a large amount of her time participating in activities that, quite frankly, are not recommended for someone so clumsy. These include karate (2nd Dan blackbelt), competitive paintball (Celtic Druids & GB Women’s team, it is a sport, honest!), weightlifting and horse riding.

Aurelien Bunga

Class: Polyglot Dude
+ (4) Contented Chuckling
+ (2) French-days & – (2) English-days
+ (2) Mischief Making

Base equipment:
Sports bag + (5) Sports Obsession
Swanky shoes + (4) Sheer Swank

Beast to tackle: What is this thing we call Alzheimer’s disease?

Bio: Since studying the subject at the University of Leeds, Aurelien thinks that Biochemistry is the answer to all of life’s problems. That led him to be involved, first as a student and then as a research assistant, in research on metal ion homeostasis in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. He’s now a PhD student at Cardiff University, interested in the role of the immune cells of the brain or microglia in Alzheimer’s disease.

He is also known in brain domain quarters as ‘Mr Mumbles’. He’s been described as so chilled out, he’s almost horizontal. Aurelien has many french days, which is when the Inside Out style emotions in his head grapple with the English language and seldom come up with comprehensible sentences. He enjoys nothing more than watching movies and TV shows, and is often in a bad mood for days when Man Utd lose.

Ellen Cross

Class: Brash Northerner:
+ (6) Accidental Humour
+ (5) Hands on
+ (4) Explaining shit

Base Equipment:
Fountain of pens + (4) Note taking
Mighty boots + (7) Stomping

Beasts to tackle:  Neurodevelopmental disorder and Goblin of constant, inappropriate swearing

Bio: Ellen, when first asked to write a bio responded in limerick form, this should tell you most things you need to know about her. She began her adventure down south at Keele University where she obtained her first degree (a dual honors because always do two things at once where possible) in Neuroscience and Psychology. Wasting no time she also acted as a psychology research assistant during her degree and got a small Wellcome Trust grant to take a summer placement researching cochlear development. Thus assured that research was her calling she continued the quest to Cardiff where she has begun her PhD. Her research project involves characterising a model of Autism spectrum disorder that can help collaborators working with patients to identify the cause of some of their symptoms.

When not in the lab and also not working (as she is constantly reminded “working at home is not the same as time off”) Ellen can often be found with a nice pint, flying around a fantasy universe on her computer. She also enjoys a good book and the company of her two cats (of course she has cats, look at that t-shirt).