Kallen Sullivan

Bean Group, PhD student

Kallen Sullivan sat outside

Current research

I am currently undertaking a PhD in Genetics and Genomics at the Bean Lab, where my research revolves around better understanding Bonamia infections in European flat oysters.

European flat oyster populations have been in decline, largely due to overfishing and disease.  There are several initiatives trying to restore native oyster populations around the UK, by transplanting animals from healthy aquaculture sites to sites where they have been historically present. However, when you transplant the oysters, you also run the risk of transplanting pathogens, including micro-cell Haplosporidian parasites in the genus Bonamia. Although there is still a lot to learn about Bonamia, these parasites specifically target and infect the oysters’ immune cells, known as haemocytes, causing significant mortality events in oyster populations.

Over the course of my PhD, I will be using a range of cell culture techniques, -omic approaches and disease challenges models to explore the intricacies of the host-pathogen interface. Ultimately, my goal is to contribute to the successful re-establishment of native oyster populations in the UK.


Favourite aquaculture species

Oysters – both in the water and on the dinner plate!



Aquaculture, parasitology, and marine ecology have always been at the forefront of my interests and professional goals. After receiving a BSc (Hons) in Marine Biology from the University of St. Andrews in 2018, I took on the role of a Research Technologist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. My focus was on studying the behaviour and ultrastructure of a fish parasite, coupled with developing therapeutics to inhibit its infectivity. Subsequently, I pursued an MSc in Applied Marine and Fisheries Ecology at the University of Aberdeen in 2020, achieving distinction for my thesis on the role of mollusc haemocytes in shell biomineralization and repair. Post-MSc, prior to joining the Aquaculture group at Roslin, I worked at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. There, I managed the zebrafish facility, providing support for toxicology and behaviour research.

  • [2014-2018] BSc Marine Biology (University of St Andrews)
  • [2020-2021] MSc Applied Marine and Fisheries Ecology (University of Aberdeen)
  • [2022 – Present] PhD Genetics and Genomics [Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh).


Interests, hopes and dreams

In the lab, microscopy is my go-to fascination, proving a welcome distraction. Beyond the lab, my interests surround travelling, art, gaming, and experimenting with new recipes – I’m always open to trying new things!