Balfour Lecture 2023 Dr Lucy van Dorp
The Genetics Society is delighted to announce Dr Lucy van Dorp, UCL, as the winner of the 2023 Balfour Lecture.
Lucy van Dorp is a UCL Excellence Fellow at UCL Genetics Institute in the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at University College London (UCL). Her research aims to contribute to the post-genomic revolution in biology and medicine through the application of computational tools to determine the factors giving rise to patterns of diversity in human-associated pathogens.
Lucy did her PhD in population genetics with Dr Garrett Hellenthal, applying haplotype-based methods to reconstruct human population histories using ancient and modern data. This was followed by a postdoctoral research position in the group of Professor Francois Balloux at University College London, where she adapted her skill set to the analysis of microbial genomes with a particular emphasis on reconstructing the spread of drug resistance. From 2020, following the award of a UCL Excellence Fellowship, she has been working as a group leader in microbial genomics at the UCL Genetics Institute. Her group applies computational techniques to a range of microbial systems to uncover the age of emergence of disease-causing agents, including the factors which have been important in shaping transmissibility in human and animal hosts. A particular interest is how past pathogen genomes obtained from diverse sources using ancient DNA sequencing techniques can be harnessed to reshape our knowledge of pathogen adaptation. In recent years a large proportion of her work has centred on the analysis of SARS-CoV-2 with the aim of uncovering patterns of transmissibility and antigenicity from genomic data obtained from infections in humans and other animals.
Alongside her work in microbial genomics, Lucy is a keen advocate for science more widely. She undertook a Masters in Science Communication and frequently presents her work at science festivals and events including in 2019 co-hosting a special double episode of BBC Radio 4’s Inside Science. Lucy also acts as the representative of early career researchers on UCL’s inter-faculty microbiology domain and was awarded a LiDO Associate Award (2020) for her mentorship of PhD students.