Burgess Group

Karl Burgess

Karl graduated in Pathobiology at the University of Reading (BSc Hons), followed by an MSc in Molecular Modelling and Bioinformatics at Birkbeck College, University of London. Moving to Scotland he continued with an MRes in Biomedical and Life Sciences, where he was first introduced to the technique of mass spectrometry by Prof. Andy Pitt at the University of Glasgow. After completing his PhD in Proteomics with Andy, Karl undertook a post-doc as part of the Scotland-Wide RASOR consortium for proteomics developments, starting his own lab as Head of Metabolomics at the University of Glasgow in 2009, where, over the next 10 years he developed the Polyomics Metabolomics facility with Mike Barrett, Tanita Casci, Alli Jackson, Richard Burchmore and Pawel Herzyk. During this time he developed standardised methods for metabolomics, quality control, data analysis and interpretation, collaborating worldwide to solve complex biological problems with metabolomics.

In 2019, Karl moved from one side of Scotland to the other, taking the position of Senior Lecturer in Biological Mass Spectrometry at the University of Edinburgh. In addition to his academic role, he is Impact Champion for the School of Biological Sciences and Scientific Director of the Edinomics Mass Spectrometry core facility. His group specialises in development of mass spectrometry methods for the exploration of the biochemistry of microorganisms, especially in the area of industrial biotechnology and infectious disease. Karl is interested in developing novel high throughput methods for analysing microbiological phenotypes at large scale, and strategies for turning the resulting data into meaningful results.

Outside science, Karl enjoys video games and scuba diving.


Luke Johnston

Luke graduated with a BSc (Hons) Microbiology from Glasgow Caledonian University before completing his collaborative MSc Industrial Biotechnology at leading universities across Scotland, which was awarded by the University of Strathclyde. His MSc student placement was at FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies,  where he worked on an innovative pilot project to implement single-use, fully continuous technologies in biologic drug production. Luke began his PhD with the Burgess Group in collaboration with FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies and IBioIC in January 2021, where he is working on the application of real-time mass spectrometry-based metabolomics to optimise CHO cell fermentations.

Luke has a keen interest in biopharmaceutical manufacturing, particularly upstream processing. He is eager to enhance the production of valuable recombinant proteins through increased understanding of host cell line biology, which can facilitate informed and rational choices in the design and execution of bioprocesses.


Ricardo Valencia Albornoz

Ricardo did his undergraduate in Environmental Engineering at the UTFSM in Valparaíso, Chile. He is currently a doctoral student in IQB3, under the supervision of Karl Burgess and Diego Oyarzún, working in the coupling between metabolomics and machine learning for optimization of bacterial strains. His PhD is funded via a Darwin Trust scholarship. My hobbies are listening to music and singing in the choir, and also playing racket sports (tennis, padel, table tennis) and chess.

Joan Cortada-Garcia

Joan was awarded a BSc from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) and a MSc from TU Delft and is currently doing his PhD in real-time metabolomics in Karl Burgess' group in an IBioIC Collaborative Training Partnership (CTP) program in partnership with Ingenza Ltd. 
Joan is always keen on going for an outdoor hike in the scenic Scottish countryside, as well as getting involved in various extracurricular activities. The combination of industrial biotechnology and engineering , together with the large array of possible applications of real-time metabolomics are what Joan enjoys the most about his PhD project.

Georgina Barrett

I graduated from the University of Liverpool with an honours degree in Biological and Medical science and then moved to the University of Glasgow for my MSc. During my MSc my project focused on lipid changes between staphylococcus aureus planktonic cells and biofilms through mass spectrometry analysis. I’m now studying for a PhD in Quantitative Biology, Biochemistry and Biotechnology; focusing on ultra-high throughput metabolomics on CHO cells. Outside of university I love to travel and explore new places. I like being active so usually spend my free time looking after and riding my horse, hiking around the Scottish countryside or attempting to cook nice meals with my friends.

Martina Pičmanová

Martina gained her MSc in Cell and Molecular Plant Biology at the Charles University in Prague, and her PhD in Plant Biochemistry as a Marie Curie Actions Fellow at the University of Copenhagen. In her doctoral studies, in Prof. Birger Møller's group, she focused on the elucidation of a novel turnover pathway for cyanogenic glycosides in crops. Martina joined the University of Edinburgh in 2017 as a postdoc at the Edinburgh Cell Wall Group. In November 2019 she became a member of Karl Burgess' group, working on the metabolomics of plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) in biofertilizer formulations and the effect of PGPR on the metabolic profiles of maize crops, in a collaborative project with South African partners. Martina is a great plant and animal lover and an enthusiastic proponent of a whole food plant-based diet. She is also a keen musician and choral singer, and has been involved in a variety of scholarly projects in the humanities.

Vanessa Smer Barreto

Hi! My name is Vanessa Smer-Barreto. I studied Physics Engineering in my native north-east, Mexico, followed by an MSc in Theoretical Physics. I then came to the UK to do a PhD in cosmology at the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh, where I of explored dark energy and modified gravity theories. After a two year break working as a data analyst in the games industry, my love for science pulled me back to academia, and I am now a happy Cross-Disciplinary Post-Doctoral Felllow in Biomedicine. Outside work, I enjoy dancing! I co-direct Edinburgh Ballet Theatre, a company of amateur artists (interested? Get in touch!).

Karen McLuskey

Karen obtained her both her undergraduate degree, in Chemistry with Computer Applications, and PhD, in Chemistry, from the University of Glasgow. Under the guidance of Profs. Neil Isaac and Richard Cogdell, Karen’s PhD focussed on the 3D structure of integral membrane proteins. Continuing with this area of research Karen moved to Seattle and the lab of Wim Hol, to work on the structure of proteins from infectious tropical diseases. After Seattle, Karen returned to the UK and over the next 10 years or so worked as a structural biologist focussing on infectious diseases, integral membrane proteins and high throughput methodologies. 


Tessa Moses

Tessa obtained her PhD in Biotechnology from the lab of Prof. Alain Goossens, University of Ghent, Belgium in 2012 on the metabolic engineering of plants and yeast for the production of triterpenoid saponin building blocks. She was a postdoctoral scientist in the group of Prof. Anne Osbourn, John Innes Centre until 2015 where she worked on exploiting the syntegron technology platform for the assembly and optimisation of complex genetic ensembles, in particular the development of a triterpenoid biosensor in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. She obtained a Special Research Fund (BOF) from the University of Ghent, Belgium in 2015 to work as a doctoral assistant with research activities on the engineering of yeast for the screening and sustainable production of high-value pharmaceutical and pesticidal triterpenoids. Tessa joined the University of Edinburgh in 2017 as a postdoctoral research associate in the group of Prof. Susan Rosser to develop a yeast platform for saponin production with applications in home and personal care products. She has extensively used metabolomics in her synthetic biology projects with expertise in the analysis of specialized small molecule natural products. She joined EdinOmics as the Metabolomics Specialist in 2019.

Lisa Imrie

Lisa completed her BSc (Hons) in Microbiology and Biotechnology from Napier University in 2003.  She undertook her Honours project at Moredun Research Facility where she was then offered a position in their Functional Genomics Unit providing an Edman degradation protein sequencing service to the units’ clients.  She quickly moved on to working with the mass spectrometers within the facility and this is where her expertise grew.  In 2013 she joined the Kinetic Parameter Facility at the University of Edinburgh (since rebranded as EdinOmics) working with the units Thermo Scientific QExactive mass spectrometer to provide a reliable and robust proteomics service.  She now works alongside the units other specialists to provide a comprehensive 'omics' service to both internal and external clients. 

In 2018 Lisa embarked on a part time PhD project linked to the Visicort project.  Her aim is to use multiomics to characterise different eye tissues in keratoconus and Fuch's dystrophy patients.  

Eliane Salvo-Chirnside

I graduated from PUCRGS-POA-Brazil with a BSc in Chemistry and MPhil by research in tropical animal health from the University of Edinburgh (1993). I continued working as a research assistant at the University of Edinburgh, initially contributing in projects related to animal health, and later moved on to human molecular biology in neuroscience. I was the coordinating supervisor for the modern apprentice staff at the School of Biological Sciences in the University of Edinburgh between 2015-2018. At the SynthSys Centre for Synthetic and Systems Biology, I am currently the senior technician for EdinOmics since 2008, assisting with sample preparation, data acquisition, invoicing, equipment maintenance, general lab organisation and maintenance of stock supplies for the mass spectrometers. I am also involved in the implementation of procedures using the Tecan liquid handling robot, including writing and testing scripts, and facilitate the usage of the Roche Light Cycler.