Hayley Sharpe: Looking back
Hayley Sharpe was a PhD student in the Cell Biology Division from 2006-2010. She is now a tenure track Group Leader at the Babraham Institute. For the 2020 LMB Alumni Newsletter, Hayley shares some memories from her time at the LMB.
I was a PhD student in Sean Munro’s lab from 2006-2010. Prior to that I had completed an undergraduate master’s degree in Biochemistry at the University of Bath. I was the first in my family to go to University, so I will be honest and admit that I was rather ignorant of the prestige of the LMB. I just really enjoyed my membrane trafficking lectures and lab experiences. My lecturers recommended Sean’s lab, so I contacted him and applied. I think I have Alison Gillingham in his lab to thank for being a Bath trailblazer.
I have great memories of my time at the LMB. I was part of the first student symposium committee. We invited some fantastic speakers to the LMB. A few of us hosted Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz. We had an hour or so before the dinner and she insisted on having a go at punting and seeing the colleges. We did both, including getting chased out of St John’s by the porters!
One of the amazing parts of being at the LMB was the abundance of Nobel prize winners and people who either invented or discovered something so fundamental. Aaron Klug would be in the canteen every day. Brad Amos, co-inventor of the confocal microscope, would join us for lunch. And Barbara Pearse, who discovered clathrin, would share her apple crop with us.
The encounters with Brad led to me being cast in one of his infamous Christmas skits as Snow White – the PhD student with the key to “eternal life” (also known as the Yamanaka factors).
The LMB experience would not have been complete without a Nobel prize! We had the opportunity to celebrate Venki’s prize in 2009. My favourite memory was people pointing out the hole in the jumper he was wearing – such was his lack of extravagance. Now I am really pleased that he is Head of the Royal Society who part-fund my current fellowship.
Learning from peers and talking to others about their research has been a key part of my career. The LMB canteen is famous and the institute culture is remarkably sociable. You can get ideas from anywhere. I am still in touch with many friends that I made at the LMB. Finally, I am very grateful that I have been able to keep in touch with Sean – who I still see as an important mentor.
After my PhD, and short stint as a postdoc in Sean’s lab, I went on to Genentech to do a postdoc in the lab of Fred de Sauvage. In 2016, I set up my lab at the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research as a Wellcome Trust Sir Henry Dale fellow. In 2019, I joined the Babraham Institute as a tenure track group leader – my group is interested in understanding the functions of the protein tyrosine phosphatases. Recently I was selected to join the EMBO YIP and awarded a Lister Research Prize Fellowship.
Hayley Sharpe, December 2020