Who's who in the Whitaker lab

Head honcho: Dr Kirstie Whitaker

Kirstie Whitaker Kirstie on a windy hill

Kirstie Whitaker is a Research Fellow at The Alan Turing Institute (London, UK). She completed her PhD in Neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley in 2012 and holds a BSc in Physics from the University of Bristol and an MSc in Medical Physics from the University of British Columbia. She joined the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge in 2012 and conducted her postdoctoral research in the Brain Mapping Unit under the supervision of Professor Ed Bullmore. She remains a member of the department as a senior research associate.

Dr Whitaker uses magnetic resonance images to understand the changes in the brain’s structure and function that underlie the emergence of schizophrenia and depression. Her work has shown that changes in myelin content in the brain’s “grey matter” increase through adolescence and that association cortex - the area of the brain that underpins complex cognition such as reasoning - continues to develop into your 20s and beyond.

Kirstie is particularly passionate about ensuring that work is reproducible and can be replicated in independent data sets. She is committed to supporting early career researchers ensure they can share their data and code while also following strict ethical guidelines. As a researcher at the Turing Institute Dr Whitaker focuses on how data science techniques can improve neuroimaging analyses, including the application of machine learning techniques to big data sets such as UK Biobank.

Dr Whitaker is a Fulbright scholarship alumna and was a 2016/17 Mozilla Fellow for Science. She will be the chair of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping’s Open Science special interest group in 2019 and is currently serving as chair-elect. Kirstie was named, with her collaborator Petra Vertes, as a 2016 Global Thinker by Foreign Policy magazine.

More information:

Research assistants

Isla Staden

Isla Staden Isla at MozFest

Isla Staden is a Research Assistant in the Whitaker Lab, refactoring Brain Networks In Python and curating data in the Neuroscience in Psychiatry Network. She is interested in topology and network science; open source development; open data and reproducible science and finally brains.

More information:

PhD students

Jessie Liu

Jessie Liu is a visiting PhD student in the Whitaker Lab and an enrichment student at the Alan Turing Institute.

More information: