Sarah Walsh

BBSRC South West Bio PhD Student

Research Career

2019-Centre for Ecology and Conservation, University of ExeterBBSRC GW4 PhD student with Ben Longdon and Angus Buckling
2018-2019London School of Hygiene and Tropical MedicineMSc Control of Infectious Diseases
2015-2018University of BirminghamBSc Biomedical Science


My PhD focuses on exploring the evolutionary and molecular factors that underpin virus host range (the phylogenetic breadth of hosts a pathogen can infect) and virus host shifts (where a pathogen jumps from one host species to another). Using a panel of 64 different Staphylococcus strains spanning 18 species and a broad host range bacteriophage (ISP) currently used for the treatment of antibiotic resistant S. aureus, we aim to use experimental evolution to ask fundamental questions about what influences the ability of viruses to infect novel host species.

I previously completed several research projects as part of my undergraduate studies at the University of Birmingham and my postgraduate studies at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. With the McNally lab (Birmingham) , I analysed clinical samples to determine the prevalence of Carbapenemase-Producing Enterobacteriaceae (CPE)and determine whether lineages causing extra-intestinal infection were the same as those carried as commensal organisms. With the Shannon-Lowe lab (Birmingham), I investigated the role of cues in the stromal microenvironment in triggering Epstein-Barr virus latency and reactivation. Most recently, as part of the virology group at the Animal and Plant Health Agency, Weybridge I contributed to a study investigating the fitness of genotypes of Influenza A that emerged following reassortment of H7N9 and H9N2, two low pathogenicity avian influenza viruses that are co-circulating in China. The preprint of this work can be found here (