Leanne did her undergraduate studies here at the University of Birmingham. As a third year undergraduate student she had the opportunity to work in Professor Charles Penn's laboratory on the gastrointestinal pathogen Campylobacter jejuni. The aim of this project was to investigate the function of the flagella biosynthesis gene, flhF. Leanne then did an MSci project where she switched topic to work on the pathogen Streptococcus agalactiae (Group B Streptococcus, GBS). Here she was interested in understanding the virulence attributes required for bacterial survival within the phagosome of macrophages. It was during this project that her particular interest in microscopy, for imaging host-pathogen interactions, began.
Leanne’s PhD focused on the intracellular behaviours of two microbial pathogens: Streptococcus agalactiae and the Eukaryotic fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans. Whilst conducting her PhD research in Professor Robin May’s group, she became familiar with both bacterial and fungal infections of phagocytes. She enjoyed combining host-pathogen interaction studies with advanced live cell imaging. This fantastic technique has enabled her to investigate the temporal dynamics of pathogen-containing phagosomes.
Leanne’s PhD was done part time whilst a teaching assistant within the school of Biosciences. During this time Leanne was involved in practical demonstrating and workshop assistance. She also developed and implemented an optional module for second year biological sciences undergraduates. These ‘Biotechnique Masterclasses' were taught by PhD students and Post-Doctoral researchers in research labs within the school of Biosciences. Leanne delivered 3, 3 hour masterclasses on the topics; the basics of tissue culture, an introduction to light and fluorescence microscopy and Mycology. Her contributions to teaching were recognised with the Excellence in Teaching Award from the University of Birmingham in July 2012.