Group Members

Dr Attila Molnar (Group Leader)

Attila holds a PhD from Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest, Hungary. He worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Cambridge and The Sainsbury Laboratory at John Innes Centre before joining Edinburgh in 2013 as a Chancellor’s Fellow in post-transcriptional gene silencing and gene editing. 

Publications available at Google Scholar


Current students:

2020 - present 2019 - present

Charlotte von Koppenfels (iBiolC PhD student - Germany)

Charlotte obtained her BSc in Biochemistry from Edinburgh University. For her PhD project in collaboration with ScotBio she is working to develop Chlamydomonas reinhardtii as an industrial chassis for the production of high value biochemicals

Yen Peng Chew, Apple (Darwin Trust PhD student - Malaysia)

Apple holds a MBiol in Microbiology and Biotechnolgy from the University of York. For her PhD project, she is developing tools to enhance CRISPR-Cas genome editing in model green microalgae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and investigating the repair mechanisms during editing.

2022 2022

Nerea Caro Guerrero (BBSRC-EASTBIO summer student)


Andre Alves Breda Coimbra (Genetics Society summer student)


Previous members of the lab:



Marina Pilukova (Undergraduate student - Bulgaria)



Muriel Monteiro (2016-2021; Darwin Trust PhD student - India)

Muriel was working on role of S-nitrosylation in plant viral immunity for her PhD project.

Fei Yue (2018-2021; Post-doctoral researcher - China)

Yue Fei obtained her Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology (Molecular Plant Science) at the University of Edinburgh in 2018. She continued her research here in Edinburgh as a postdoctoral research associate in the Molnar Lab. Her research project was to identify and characterise the translation-associated host factor of Papaya Ringspot Virus (PRSV) and generate novel resistance alleles by genome editing.

Aron Ferenczi (2017-2021; EASTBIO-DTP student - Hungary)

In collaboration with our industrial partner, ScotBio, Aron establishes CRISPR-based, transgene-free genome editing protocols in microalgae to promote their biotechnological applications. His work also includes the establishment of novel gene editing assays and elucidation of DNA repair pathways and genomic factors responsible for certain editing outcomes. He currently focus on microalga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Aron has a keen interest in the future direction of gene editing technologies and their applications. He hold a BSc in Plant Science and MSc in Bioinformatics, both from Edinburgh University.



Erika Kroll (Honours student)

Bob Mason (Honours student)

Karolina Brzezinska (Summer student - Algae UK)

Karolina worked on improving CRISPR/Cas12-mediated knock-ins by utilising synchronised cell cultures and favouring homology-directed integration of the donor DNA. She then attempted to increase the levels of carotenoid production in C. reinhardtii by overexpressing an inactive CrBKT pseudogene. 



Adela Ruzickova (Erasmus+ PhD student from Charles University - Prague, 6 months)

Eva Steele (Honours student)

Sara Gonzalez Brito (Summer student - College Vacation Scholarship)



Fei Yue (2014 - 2018; China Scholarship Council student)

Her PhD project studied the molecular and environmental factors that are involved in virus-induced epigenetic modifications in virus-infected plants. Her work characterised the sequence complementary requirements between sRNAs and their nuclear target sequence. She also identified the key factors that are associated with inefficient virus-induced transcriptional gene silencing at high temperature.

Lindsay Williams (Honours student)

Avejade Abiog (Summer student)

Magnus Gwynne (Summer student)

Matthew Fellbaum (PHYCONET Undergraduate Summer Studentship)




Douglas Pyott (2013 - 2017; EASTBIO-DTP student) 

His PhD research explored how environmental cues such as light and temperature can modulate RNA silencing-mediated defence to viral infection and also how modern genome editing techniques can be employed to generate virus-resistant germplasm (Pyott et al., 2016). 


Lila Grandgeorge (Honours’ students)

Ethan Roos (Honours’ students)



Gabriel Alejandro Hernandez Talancon (MSc student)


Adam Kovac (Summer student)


Iain Ratter (PHYCONET Undergraduate Summer Studentship)

Andromachi Xypnitou (Research Assistant)




Xu Mengzhen (MSc student)


Aron Ferenczi (Honours’ student)



Emma Sheehan (MSc student)


Lindsay Williams (Gatsby Summer Studentship)



Abirah Zulkifli (MSc student)


Debbie Frederickson Matika (2014 - 2016; Research Assistant)