Lab members


Ken Sawin - Principal investigator

Professor of Cell Biology

Ken is from Boston, Massachusetts. He studied Physics and Philosophy at Yale University but became interested in Cell Biology during his final undergraduate year. After graduating, he worked with Daniel Mazia at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station, studying mitosis in sea urchin embryos, and was later a student in the Physiology Course at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole. He obtained his PhD in Cell Biology from the University of California San Francisco, working with Tim Mitchison on mitotic spindle assembly, microtubule dynamics, and microtubule motor proteins, using the Xenopus egg extract system. He began working with fission yeast as a post-doctoral fellow with Paul Nurse at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (now Cancer Research UK), studying microtubule organization and its role in regulating cell polarity. He started the lab in 2000 as a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow.


Harish Thakur - Post doctoral researcher

Harish comes from India. He completed his B.Sc (Agriculture) degree in 2007 from Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi and M.Sc (Life science) in 2009 from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India.  Afterwards he joined the PhD program of NRW Research School BioStruct at the Heinrich-Heine-University, Düsseldorf, Germany, and after successful completion he was awarded with the degree of Dr. rer. nat. in 2012. He joined the Sawin lab in Feb 2013 and is currently trying to understand the structural basis for the regulation of microtubule nucleation in fission yeast.



Su Ling Leong - Post doctoral researcher






Ye Dee Tay - Post doctoral researcher

Tay is from Malaysia. He completed his Biomedical Sciences degree in the University of Hull in 2005. He then moved to the University of Oxford to study homologous recombination in yeast under CRUK and Clarendon Scholarships. After his PhD, Tay started his first postdoc in Prof. Iain Hagan’s lab in CRUK Manchester Institute (aka Paterson Institute) and began to study cell cycle using another yeast model, i.e. fission yeast. In summer 2014, Tay joined the Sawin’s lab to investigate the molecular mechanisms regulating cell polarity in fission yeast. 



Sanju Ashraf - PhD student

Sanju comes from Kerala, India. He finished his masters degree in Imaging and Microscopy from University College Dublin, Ireland. He is interested in understanding the stability and dynamics of polarity proteins at the cell tips in S.pombe.




Xun Bao - Darwin Trust PhD student

Xun got her master's degree in Developmental Biology from the Northwest A & F University in China. Her current work in the lab is focusing on cytoplasmic MTOC-related proteins in S.pombe.




Hayley Johnson - Wellcome Trust PhD student

Hayley is from England, and completed her B.Sc in Genetics at the University of Manchester. She joined the Sawin lab as part of the Wellcome Trust 4 year PhD programme and  is working on exocytosis and polarity in fission yeast. 




Ana Rodriguez - Darwin Trust PhD student

Ana is from Spain. She obtained her bachelor's degree in Biotechnology from the Pablo de Olavide University in Sevilla, Spain. She did her final year project at the Andalusian Center of Developmental Biology (CABD) and King's College London. In 2016 she started a 4 year PhD programme, supported by the Darwin Trust, in Ken's Lab. Here, Ana is currently studying the relationship between cell stress and polarity control.  




Past members:

Delyan Mutavchiev - Postdoc, University College London (Buzz Baum Lab)

Weronika Borek - Postdoc, University of Edinburgh (Adele Marston Lab)

Eric Lynch - Postdoc, McGill University (Justin Kollman Lab)

Hilary Snaith - Executive Director, Edinburgh Infectious Diseases, University of Edinburgh

Itaru Samejima - Postdoc, University of Edinburgh (Blll Earnshaw Lab)

Lynda Groocock - Postdoc, Scripps Research Institute (Nick Boddy Lab)

Claudia Bicho - Postdoc, UCSF (Torsten Wittman Lab)

Vicky Miller - Postdoc, University of Bristol (David Stephens Lab)

Andreas Anders