Bea is an Enrichment Student starting at the Turing in October 2019. She is based at the University of Manchester, where she started her final year of a PhD in Bioimage Analysis. She is the creator of the ALFRED software (Advanced Labelling, Fitting, Recognition and Enhancement of Data), a tool to analyse pathological mutations in neurons. Before moving to the UK in 2016, Bea completed her integrated Master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Coimbra, in Portugal, where she is originally from. Her master’s thesis was on computational modelling of neuronal growth. She has always been interested in applying computational methods and solutions to further understand neurodegenerative diseases.

Bea is passionate about bridging the gaps between computer science and biology, which can be seen here. In her free time, Bea bakes as a stress-relief and is a wannabe stand-up comedian self-proclaimed as the pun-isher.

Research interests

Microtubules are the backbone polymers in axons, the long slender processes of neurons. Generally, they are organised into continuous parallel bundles, similar to a packet of dry spaghetti. However, in some neurodegenerative diseases, axons appear to have swellings that inside contain disorganised microtubules, as if they became a bowl of cooked spaghetti. The aim of Bea’s PhD project is to analyse the different phenotypes of the different mutations in some proteins present in the axons that seem to cause this morphological change in microtubules. With her ALFRED software, she obtains a quantitative description of the geometry and shape of the disorganised bundles, particularly straightness, length and curvature.

Here at the Turing, she hopes to apply machine learning methods to further understand and classify these images. Bea also hopes to make her software accessible to everyone, and any collaborations or insights are welcome.

Achievements and awards

President's Doctoral Scholar Award, The University of Manchester