The Postgraduate Tutorial Team

The Postgraduate Office

The Postgraduate Office can be found just along the corridor from the Porters’ Lodge. In the current circumstances, however, it’s best to email.

The Postgraduate Administrator, Rebecca Sawalmeh, will be available to help with administrative tasks throughout your time at Churchill – from writing letters to help you open a bank account, to monitoring visas, to generally providing help and advice.

The Postgraduate Office will also assign you a pastoral tutor.

What is a tutor?

During your time here at Churchill, you will have a tutor. Tutors are concerned with your welfare and progress throughout your time at the Churchill. You should feel free to speak to your tutor at any time, and they should be your first point of contact for any matter concerning yourself and the College, or for advice or help on any personal or financial matter.

Tutors can also act as intermediaries in official relations between postgraduate students and the University. Academic problems are primarily the responsibility of your research supervisor or director of studies, but these matters are often also useful to discuss with your tutor.

You can meet the postgraduate tutorial team below

Rebecca Sawalmeh

Postgraduate Administrator

Rebecca Sawalmeh is the full time Postgraduate Student Administrator at Churchill College and can be found in the Postgraduate Office just along the corridor from the Porters’ Lodge.

She is able to write letters to help you open bank accounts or apply for tourist visas, she monitors visas and passports for overseas students, she can offer advice on accommodation, adjusting to life in Cambridge, etc.

If in doubt about anything, contact Rebecca.

+44 (0)1223 336157

Sharon Knight

Postgraduate Administrator - Admissions

Sharon Knight is the part time Postgraduate Admissions Administrator at Churchill College and can be found in the Postgraduate Office just along the corridor from the Porters’ Lodge.

She is primarily responsible for the admission administration for incoming Postgraduate Students but also assists Rebecca in offering support to the Postgraduate Office.

Sharon also acts as administrator for the Dean and Finance Tutor.

Dr Mairi Kilkenny

Senior Postgraduate Tutor

Dr Mairi Kilkenny is the Senior Postgraduate Tutor at Churchill College.

Mairi is the Assistant Director of Teaching for the Department of Biochemistry, where she is involved in the planning, organisation and delivery of 5 courses across the Natural Sciences, Medical Sciences and Veterinary Sciences Triposes. She obtained her BSc and MSc (in Chemistry) from the University of Cape Town, and her PhD (in Biochemistry) from the University of Cambridge (Sidney Sussex College).

Mairi teaches on the second year NST course, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB), and also acts as BMB supervisor for several Cambridge Colleges.

Her research focuses on the elucidation of the mechanism of DNA replication in human cells, from a structural biology perspective. She contributes to a drug discovery project using AI to develop novel inhibitors of enzymes involved in DNA replication


Dr Mairi Kilkenny

Professor Alex Webb

Postgraduate Tutor

Professor Alex Webb is a Postgraduate Tutor at Churchill College.

Alex is a Professor in Cell Signalling in the Department of Plant Sciences. He obtained his BSc from Stirling University and his PhD from Lancaster University.

He is a leading expert on the mechanisms by which plants sense environmental signals and measure time. He runs a research lab investigating circadian signal transduction, with the goal of increasing food security through crop improvement.

Prof Webb teaches aspects of cell signalling in plants, animals and microbes, in all three years of the Natural Sciences Tripos. He supervises second year Cell and Developmental Biology and aspects of plant physiology in the third year.

Profile photo of Alex Webb. He is standing in a wood panelled room and smiling at the camera.

Dr Liz DeMarrais

Postgraduate Tutor

Dr Liz DeMarrais is a Postgraduate Tutor at Churchill College.

Liz is an archaeologist with wide-ranging theoretical interests that include, most basically, material culture or ‘things’ and social relations in the human past.

Research areas include the American Southwest, New England, Hawaii, and the Andes; my current research activity involves an exploration of heterarchy in the Andes.  Heterarchy is social organisation that involves networks and linkages that are horizontal, fluid, and often informal, rather than rigidly institutionalised in the hierarchical forms that we experience in modern Western society.

In related research, she has explored the ways that craft production in the past might be differently organised in heterarchical settings, and she considered how art and other symbolic material culture might tell us about the experience of everyday life in heterarchical (smaller-scale) societies in the past.

Professor Benedikt Loewe

Postgraduate Tutor

Professor Benedikt Löwe is a Fellow at Churchill College, a Bye-Fellow at Lucy Cavendish College, a Director of Studies for Mathematics at Churchill College, Lucy Cavendish College, & St Edmund’s College, and an Affiliated Lecturer of DPMMS. He is supervising for Part II (Automata & Formal Languages and Logic & Set Theory) and lecturing for Part III of the Mathematical Tripos.

He is also affiliated with the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation at the Universiteit van Amsterdam and the Fachbereich Mathematik at the Universität Hamburg.

Dr Cahir O'Kane

Postgraduate Tutor

Cahir O’Kane was elected a Fellow of Churchill in 1996. He grew up in Northern Ireland and studied Genetics for his first degree in Cambridge in 1981. He obtained a PhD in bacterial genetics from Trinity College Dublin in the lab of David McConnell (1981-85), and was a postdoctoral fellow with Walter Gehring in the Biocenter of the University of Basel, Switzerland, where he developed the widely used approach of enhancer trapping in Drosophila (1985-88). From 1988-1993 he was a lecturer in the University of Warwick.

Since 1993, he has been a Lecturer (and subsequently Senior Lecturer and Reader) in the Genetics Department in Cambridge, where he served as Head from 2009-2013. He teaches mainly in the biological Natural Sciences Tripos and serves as one of the biological Directors of Studies in Churchill, and also serves on the Chapel Committee. His research interests include the organisation and trafficking of intracellular membrane compartments in Drosophila (fruitfly) neurons, and the roles of these membrane compartments in neuronal physiology and neurodegeneration. His current interests include a long neglected cell compartment, axonal endoplasmic reticulum (ER). His group has recently shown that some genes that are causative for the axon degeneration disease, hereditary spastic paraplegia, help to organise the axonal ER as a tubular membrane network, and they are now interested in the physiological roles of this network.

Profile photo for Cahir O'Kane

Dr Thanuja Galhena

Postgraduate Tutor

Dr Thanuja Galhena works on materials chemistry and her current research focuses on 2-dimentional material-based dispersions, inks, coatings, composites and their structural and functional applications.

Dr Thanuja Galhena was a Senior Scientist at Versarien plc. She was a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Cambridge Graphene Centre and a Teaching Fellow in the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Graphene Technology at the University of Cambridge, before joining Versarien. She graduated with a BSc in Chemistry from the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka, followed by a M.Phil. in Nanotechnology and Material Science and studied for her PhD at University of Cambridge at the Department of Engineering.



Dr Thanuja Galhena