Knowledge for a sustainable world

PhD, Dipl. Biol., PGCert, FHEA

Dr Joanna Miest is a fish physiologist and immunologist. She obtained her degree in biology, specialising in animal physiology, cell biology and ecology from University of Freiburg, Germany in 2008. Previously she had conducted her Master thesis at the Alfred-Wegener Institute for Polar Research in Bremerhaven, Germany working on temperature physiology of cod in the ecophysiology group of Professor Hans-Otto Pörtner.

After working as a project management assistant at EUrelation in Zurich, Switzerland for a few months she went on to conduct a PhD thesis in "Apoptosis and its association with immunomodulation and disease in common carp (Cyprinus carpio L.)" at Keele University, UK, with Professor Dave Hoole. The thesis was conducted within an international Marie Curie Initial Training Network (NEMO).

In 2012 Dr Miest moved to Kiel, Germany to work at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research as a post-doc and co-project manager focusing on fish health and larval nutrition.

Dr Miest joined the University of Greenwich in March 2016 as a Lecturer in Biology where she works in close collaboration with international academic and non-academic partners to understand the impacts that climate change and disease have on aquatic ecosystems, and how this information can be used to provide a sustainable food source for the world's growing population.

Dr Miest is interested in how the environment, including pathogens, influences the physiology and in particular the immune system of aquatic animals.

Key research questions that she is interested in include:

  • Does climate change affect the immune competence of fish and other aquatic animals?
  • How will pathogens fare during climate change?
  • Can we use in-vitro models to study thermal physiology?
  • What factors set the upper thermal limits in fish from different environments?
  • Can immunostimulants increase welfare in aquaculture?
  • How can we reduce diseases and increase welfare in aquaculture settings?

Dr. Miest is involved in several programmes in the School of Science but mainly in the BSc Biololgy and BSc Biomedical Science. She teaches both human and animal physiology, cell biology, and genetics.

She teaches on the following modules:

  • BIOL-1059 Introduction to Biology
  • BIOL-1002 Fundamental Biology and Physiology (including Module leadership).
  • VETE-1027 Comparative Physiology
  • BIOC-0578 Physiological Systems and Regulation
  • GENE-0579 Genetics
  • MOLE-1006 Applied Molecular Biology
  • BIOL-1045 Bioanalytical Techniques
  • “Reducing the impact of disease on the sustainability of international aquaculture through an innovative odour-based detection system”, co-applicant Dr. D. Bray. Funding agency: German exchange service. Call initiative: Short term stays 2013. This proposal was funded with 2000 € and enabled D. Bray and J. Miest to investigate if volatile molecules released by infected fish can be used to detect disease in water.
  • “TempFish: Adaptation potential of temperature physiology in zebrafish” co-applicant: Fredrik Jutfelt, NTNU Trondheim. Funding Agency: EU, Call initiative: Marie Curie IF 2015. This project was offered 3-year funding by NTNU Trondheim but funding had to be declined as position at University of Greenwich was taken up.
  • UoG Vice Chancellor (VC) PhD studentship as main applicant to fund the project “Identifying the impact of climate change on aquatic organisms at a fundamental cellular level.” in 2016. This studentship supported Adrian Loh to carry out his PhD in the field of cellular thermal biology. He investigated which cellular factors are involved in setting the upper thermal limits in zebrafish cells and if in vitro studies are comparable to effects seen in vivo. The aim of this work was to understand the cellular processes better that are involved in limiting acclimation and adaptation to a warmer environment in fish.
  • “The role of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in setting thermal limits of fish and the interaction between ER stress and mitochondria at increased temperatures.” Small project grant from Fisheries Society of the British Isles of £5000 to fund 12 month research on Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress in fish in response to temperature stress. This work supported the PhD thesis of Adrian Loh and investigated how thermal stress influences the endoplasmic reticulum in a zebrafish cell line. This work is important to understand how the upper thermal limits of fish cells are set.

J. Miest is currently supervising the following PhD students and projects:

1st supervisor:

  • Adrian Loh: “Identifying the impact of climate change on aquatic organisms at a fundamental cellular level.”

2nd supervisor

  • Meena Afzali: “Novel biomaterial skin substitutes and wound dressings based on fish skin model for the treatment of hard to heal wounds (burns and chronic ulcers)”
  • Mustapha Gani: “A novel Approach For Monitoring Crude Oil Contamination: Application of Molecular Biology Approach For The Diagnosis of Bacterial Biodegradable Genes In the Niger Delta Polluted Soil”
  • Emebet Adem: “The role of Leishmania infection on T cells: Ex vivo analysis of Leishmania infection of human blood”

ECR Poster prize from GRE of University of Greenwich in 2018

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