Jane Charlesworth

Research Assistant, Modernising Medical Microbiology group, Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Oxford


I'm a curious evolutionary biologist with side interests in learning more about computer science, software engineering and science/computing education.


Bacteria are all around us and even make up a major part of our bodies, but there is still a lot that we don't know about bacterial populations and how they evolve. Studying the genome sequences of both pathogenic and commensal bacteria is allowing us to start answering some of these questions.

I am a postdoc in the Modernising Medical Microbiology group in the Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine at the University of Oxford, as part of a large group ranging from practicing clinicians to software developers and statisticians. Our research covers many questions about pathogen genomics, from tracing the origins of outbreaks in hospitals to understanding how bacteria evolve within hosts and bringing the use of pathogen sequence data into routine clinical practice.

My work focuses on using and developing population genetics methods to analyse whole genome sequences from bacteria.  A typical day for me involves hacks like telling software written for use with human genomes that my bacteria, which only have one copy of their genome in each cell are actually X or Y chromosomes from human males. Currently I am working on pinpointing genetic changes in the bacteria that vary the severity of the disease they cause.

My goal as an SSI fellow is to create some resources that biology lecturers can use to introduce programming concepts to their students, even if they are not confident coders themselves. I found it a struggle to learn to code on top of starting a PhD and I want to make this process less painful for future researchers. If you want to collaborate on this, please get in touch!

I also volunteer with Code Club teaching programming to 9-10 year olds. If you're interested in software and education I highly recommend this experience.

I tweet about science, education, social justice, cats and boats @janepipistrelle

Check out contributions by and mentions of Jane Charlesworth on www.software.ac.uk