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Always keen to collaborate on anything relating to the brain, behaviour or microbiome - feel free to get in touch!


Recent Biography

DPhil in Interdisciplinary Bioscience, University of Oxford (2014-2018)

  • Senior Studentship (with SCR membership), Pembroke College
  • Graduate Scholarship, Pembroke College
  • BBSRC Studentship

BA Hons in Biological Sciences (First Class), University of Oxford (2011-2014):

  • Gibbs Prize for meritorious work in Biological Sciences, University of Oxford 2014
  • Master's Finals Prize, Pembroke College 2014
  • Undergraduate Scholarship, Pembroke College
  • Governor's Prize, Pembroke College 2012

Katerina Johnson

BA Hons (University of Oxford)

Social & Evolutionary Neuroscience Research Group (Dunbar Lab)

Exploring connections between the microbiome, brain and behaviour

Research Summary

Research Interests

I am conducting my DPhil research between the Departments of Experimental Psychology and Psychiatry (supervised by Professor Robin Dunbar and Dr Phil Burnet).  As a biologist, I am fascinated by the trillions of bacteria that inhabit our bodies and in particular the ways in which they may interact with our brain to influence behaviour.  Bidirectional communication between our gut microbiota (community of microorganisms living in the gut) and central nervous system may be mediated via neural, endocrine or immune mechanisms.  This microbiome-gut-brain axis is an exciting frontier in neuroscience and my current research focuses on its potential to provide novel insights into individual variation in social behaviour and personality.

I am also interested in the animal microbiome from an evolutionary and ecological perspective, for example the role that social relationships and behaviours may play in shaping an individual’s microbiome composition.  My research spans the fields of microbiology, metagenomics, molecular genetics, neuroscience, behavioural ecology and evolutionary biology.

How the microbiome affects brain and behaviour

TED video introducing the microbiome-gut brain axis

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Recent Publications


Science communication

  • Keen to promote the public understanding of the life sciences.
  • Experience with media engagement includes live TV filming (Sky and CTV News), feature piece filming (ITV News), pre-recorded (e.g. BBC Radio 4 Inside Science) and live radio (e.g. BBC World Service) and journalist interviews. 
  • I also enjoy speaking at live events (e.g. Guerilla Science).

My connections

  • Research Group