Our team

Iris Salecker

Iris is a group leader and Prof. ENS at the Institut de Biologie de l’Ecole Normale Supérieure (IBENS) in Paris (France). She obtained her Dipl. Biol. degree at the University of Regensburg (Germany) in 1990. Following an internship at the CNRS in Gif-sur-Yvette (France), she completed her PhD studies under the guidance of Dr. Juergen Boeckh at the University of Regensburg in 1995. For her postdoctoral training, she worked in the team of Dr. S. Lawrence Zipursky at the University of California, Los Angeles (USA) from 1995-2000. End of 2000, she moved to London (UK) to start her first independent group at the MRC NIMR (Mill Hill), which became a founding partner of the Francis Crick Institute in 2015. Iris remains a senior group leader affiliated with the Crick Institute until 2021. She has trained numerous undergraduate students, PhD students and postdocs since establishing her lab, and considers this as one of the most important aspects of her work.

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Cara Picciotto

Cara graduated as a certified biological-technical assistant from the higher vocational school Cologne in 2009 and received her B.Sc. in Biology from the Rheinische-Friedrich-Wilhelms University Bonn (Germany) in 2012. She characterized the co-chaperone BAG-6 in proteasomal degradation. In 2014, she received her M.Sc. in Life and Medical sciences and focused on the developmental effects of deletions of the ceramide synthase Schlank in Drosophila  under Prof. Michael Hoch. She joined the Molecular Nephrology lab of Prof. Hermann Pavenstädt for her PhD studies and her first Postdoc. She analyzed the crosstalk of slit diaphragm components with focal adhesions and made use of Drosophila nephrocytes as a model. In her other life, she can be found staring at art in museums, dancing at concerts, trying out new food or roaming the streets, thinking.
Cara joined our new lab at the IBENS as a postdoc in February 2020.

Faredin Alejevski

Faredin completed a BSc and MSc double major in Molecular Biology and Environmental Biology (combined titled as Molecular Ecology) at Roskilde University in Denmark. After the completion of his MSc, he moved to France for his doctoral studies in the lab of Dr. François Rouyer at CNRS. In his PhD project, he worked on understanding how the Drosophila visual system entrains the circadian clock both on a molecular level and neuronal connections relaying the light signal from the retina to the clock neurons in the central nervous system. While finishing his PhD degree, he joined the lab of Dr. Daniel Vasiliauskas at the CNRS for one and a half years, where he studied the differentiation of Drosophila photoreceptors. Subsequently, he worked for one year as a postdoc at the National Museum of Natural History (Paris) in the lab of Prof. Hervé Tostivint, studying the development of the zebrafish caudal neurosecretory system.  He joined the team of Iris at the IBENS in January 2021. When not in the lab, he is pursuing wildlife photography to learn about our natural world.

Undergraduate students joining us for their internships

Maïlys Roux (L2 student, 2020)
Esther Lahoud-Heilbronner (L3 student, 2020)
Emmanuelle Martinez (L3 IMMEX student, 2021)

Most recent lab alumni from our London lab

Richard Kaschula

Richard completed a BSc in Biological and Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Exeter followed by a MSc in Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of Sussex. Whilst remaining at the University of Sussex, he continued his post-graduate studies. Working with Dr. Claudio Alonso, Richard studied the role of microRNAs in regulating Ubx expression levels during Drosophila appendage development for the completion of his PhD.
Following the success of his doctoral studies, he moved to the Salecker lab where his focus turned to investigating the dynamics of nervous system development. His expanding interest in the use of transcriptomics to unpick the molecular requirements of cellular development led to him to pursue these approaches within the lab, optimising experimental and computational methodologies to conduct cell-type specific transcriptomics in the Drosophila nervous system.

Emma Powell
PhD student

Emma received an Integrated Masters in Biological Sciences at the University of Warwick in 2015. Under the supervision of Dr Ioannis Nezis, her Masters project focused on the role of the transcription factor Sequoia during autophagy in Drosophila. During this time, Emma thoroughly enjoyed working on fruit flies and also through her reading of the literature, identified the visual system as a new area of interest. To pursue research in this field, she studied for a PhD at the Francis Crick Institute, where under the guidance of Dr Iris Salecker, she investigated the role of neuron-glial interactions in controlling neurite remodelling in the Drosophila visual system. Outside of the lab, Emma enjoys yoga, running and spending time with family and friends.

Lab alumni

Holger Apitz (Principal Laboratory Research Scientist)
Cristina de Miguel Vijandi (postdoc)
Martina Pilatova (Laboratory Research Scientist)
Alida Avola (early stage PhD student)
Kathleen Dolan (PhD student)
Nana Shimosako (PhD student)
Benjamin Richier (postdoc)
Benedikt Hofbauer (visiting MSc student)
Dafni Hadjieconomou (PhD student)
Stecy Tarrieu (visiting DUT student)
Stefanie Mackensen (visiting MSc student)
Katarina Timofeev (visiting MSc student, PhD student)
Emily Richardson (postdoc)
Maike Breiden (visiting MSc student)
Lauren Ferreira (research assistant)
Willy Joly (postdoc)
Zoe Ludlow (research assistant)
Justine Oyallon (PhD student)
Carole Chotard (postdoc)
Eleni Bazigou (PhD student)
Wendy Leung (research assistant)