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Ms Velislava Ilieva

Profile summary

Professional biography

2021 - present | The Open University | CENTA-funded DTP project 'The Influence of sulfur cycling on community diversity in hypersaline Mars-analogue environments'

2019 - 2021 | Yourgene Health | Placement year followed by part-time role with the R&D team

2017 - 2021 | The University of Manchester | BSc Molecular Biology with Industrial Experience - final year project 'Understanding the role of mitochondrial dysfunction in the pathogenesis of Perrault syndrome using expression analysis and disease-associated variants'

My background is in molecular biology, genetics and molecular diagnostics.

Research interests

I am fascinated by the ability of life to adapt and thrive under extreme environmental conditions and the implications for possible extinct and/or extant life on other planetary bodies.

My PhD project investigates sulfur-cycling microorganisms that inhabit hypersaline Mars-analogue environments. I want to understand what metabolisms function in these habitats and how important are sulfur cyclers as primary producers for the microbial community diversity. My work will involve collecting samples from several hypersaline Mars-analogue sites and carrying out detailed microbiological analysis via culture-dependent and culture-independent techniques.

[Live/dead staining of sulfate-reducing bacterial cells associated with an iron sulfide precipitate. Isolates were obtained from a salt plain in Western Sahara.]  


First insights into the chemistry and microbial community composition of the Western Sahara salt plains, a potential Mars analogue (2022)
Ilieva, Velislava; Stephens, Ben; Goodall, Tim; Ori, Gian Gabriele; Read, Daniel; Pearson, Victoria; Olsson-Francis, Karen and Macey, Michael
In : Geomicrobiology Research In Progress Meeting (30 Jun - 1 Jul 2022, University of Huddersfield)