Yolanda is a comparative immunologist with a particular interest in animal health, vaccination, and the parasitology of farmed and wild animals.
Following her 5-year degree in Biological Sciences (Zoology) from the University of Oviedo in Asturias (Spain) in 1999, her career as a researcher started in 2002 at the Scottish Fish Immunology Research Centre (University of Aberdeen), where she completed her PhD studies under the supervision of Regius Chair of Natural History Prof Chris Secombes.
Having worked on various aspects of fish immunology (vaccination, cell culture, antibody production) for 10 years in Chris’s group, she then moved into ruminant immunology, first at the Roslin Institute, and then joining The Moredun Research Institute in 2015.
In addition to her research in various aspects of ruminant immunoparasitology, Yolanda is also responsible for the flow cytometry facility at the Moredun and is a keen bat ecologist in her spare time.
Yolanda is currently working as part of the large NERC grant “The ecology within: The impact of gut ecosystem dynamics on host fitness in the wild”. This project aims at addressing fundamental unanswered questions about how the interactions between hosts and their gut microbial, protozoan and helminth communities shape host population dynamics and parasite epidemiology in the wild.
The study system is the Soay Sheep resident to the Village Bay area on Hirta within the St Kilda archipelago. These sheep have been captured and uniquely marked within a few days of birth and monitored closely throughout their lives for the last 30 years. At the Moredun, research is focused on the interaction between parasite community and the immune responses of these sheep in an attempt to understand how the dynamics of the gut parasite population are shaped by the variation in the host immune phenotype and how this is associated with host fitness and survival.
- Development of novel adjuvants for parasites as part of the “PARAGONE: vaccines for animal parasites” funded by European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.
- Development of antibodies for ruminants “The route to identification of the immunological correlates of protection in ruminants” funded by an industrial partnership award between BBSRC and AbD Serotec.
- Development of a novel blood based diagnostic test for ovine pulmonary adenocarcinoma based on Epitope Detection in Monocytes (EDIM). 2019-2020. Funded by the Sheep Veterinary Society. £3,350.
- Development of in vitro assays to determine vaccine efficacy in fish. 2010-2012. Funded by the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs). (With Professor Chris Secombes and Dr. Jun Zou) £190K