To contact the SpermNMR research project members, email

Current team members

Steven Reynolds (founding member)

I lead the spermNMR group which has been working on sperm research since 2015. We study many aspects of sperm function, with a particular focus on sperm metabolism and metabolomics. My background is in Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy and we have used this technique to measure how sperm consume molecules as they prepare themselves to fertilise an egg. With colleagues from the Jessop Wing maternity hospital, I have a long-standing collaboration in understanding the metabolic environment of the vaginal microbiome and its relationship to preterm birth.

In addition to my research activity, I manage the magnetic resonance imaging facility at the University of Sheffield. Here, I work with other researchers on using MRI for projects with applications as diverse as cancer treatments and neuroscience to material sciences.

I have a degree in chemistry from Aston University, where I also received my PhD in Magnetic Resonance of Solids. I have held research positions at the University of Surrey, and the University of Cambridge. I spent 8 years in industry, firstly at GE Healthcare and later at Oxford Instruments, both developing scientific instruments. As an applications scientist at Oxford instruments, I was the team leader for HyperSense Magnetic Resonance applications group, with other colleagues based in USA and Japan facilities. Here, I developed an interest in hyperpolarised magnetic resonance experiments and metabolism.

I have been a practitioner of Shotokan karate for a number of years and teach at my local club. I also like to do gardening, although my planting is experimental.

Evie Gruszyk

I am a PhD student in the Academic Unit of Reproductive and Developmental Medicine at the University of Sheffield. I am investigating live human sperm metabolism in the female reproductive tract using 13C Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS). 

My role is to perform density gradient centrifugation on donated samples, incubate them with substrates found in the female reproductive tract and then perform MRS analysis.

I have an undergraduate degree in Human Biology from Sheffield Hallam University and a master’s degree in Reproductive and Developmental Medicine from the University of Sheffield. 

As part of my MSc, I completed a six month research project looking at the importance of female reproductive tract metabolites for sperm metabolism and motility and I am continuing this research as part of my PhD.

In my spare time I enjoy playing the piano and swimming.


Sarah Calvert (founding member)

Sarah was the lab based biologist in the team and also helped to consent patients to the study. After a sample has been donated, Sarah would separate out the fast moving and slow moving sperm and set up the tubes for the analysis done on the MRS machine.

Sarah's first degree was in Human Biology at the University of Birmingham where she also did a year in industry. She then moved to the University of Manchester and did a PhD looking at how the cell biology of the placenta affected pregnancy diseases. 

During her PhD, Sarah spent some time with another lab based at Washington University Medical School in St. Louis, USA.

In her spare time, Sarah is a bit of a foodie and enjoys cooking and trying new food and drink. To balance that out, she also plays badminton and cycles.

Nurul Fadhlina Binti Ismail

Nurul was a PhD student in Immunity, Infection and Cardiovascular science department, University of Sheffield. Her research was about monitoring the sperm metabolism by using the Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS) and correcting the motion artefact in the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) image. 

Nurul is from Malaysia and was sponsored by the Ministry of Higher Education of Malaysia. She graduated from University Sains Malaysia in radiation Science. 

Nurul worked as a radiographer for a year in a hospital in Malaysia. She also worked as an assistant lecturer in University Sultan Zainal Abidin, Terengganu.

In her spare time, Nurul likes to watch comedy show and go sightseeing.

Mari Herigstad

Mari is a physiologist and has worked with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) since 2009. Her role was to help with the MRI aspect of the research, and also contribute to developing oxygenation methods for our samples.

Mari has a degree in biology from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and a D.Phil. in cardiorespiratory physiology from the University of Oxford. She has previously worked at the University of Oxford’s department of clinical neuroscience, using MRI to investigate respiratory perception and symptoms in respiratory disease, and at Oxford Brookes University, looking at respiration-related confounds in neuroimaging. She has also spent some time in industry, as a senior scientist working on contract neuroscience research.

When Mari isn't at work, she plays the piano, guitar and bass guitar, and is a keen amateur photographer.

Allan Pacey (founding member)

I was a Professor of Andrology at the University of Sheffield School of Medicine and Biomedical Science, Department of Oncology and Metabolism as well as the Head of Andrology for Sheffield Teaching Hospitals. 

My research interests include understanding aspects of male infertility and this includes laboratory projects investigating the basic biology of human sperm to large epidemiological studies. 

I am currently the chairman of the Steering Group for the UK National External Quality Assurance Scheme for Andrology and the Editor in Chief of the BFS journal Human Fertility. Between 2005 and 2010 I served as Honorary Secretary of the British Fertility Society and from 2012 to 2015 was the Chairman. 

In addition by my science and clinical work, I regularly provide comment to the media on current news stories in infertility and assisted conception. I have also made several TV programmes including Britain’s Secret Code Breaker (2011), Donor Unknown (2011), The Great Sperm Race (2009), The Truth About Food (2007), Make me a Baby (2007) and Lab Rats (2004). In the 2016 New Year’s Honours list, I was awarded an MBE for Services to Reproductive Medicine.

Follow my thoughts about science, sperm, male fertility and the life of an academic on Twitter: @allanpacey

Martyn Paley (founding member)

Martyn Paley is an emeritus Professor of BioMedical Imaging in Academic Radiology. He has been involved with Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopy (MRI/S) for over forty years, since 1973, when he studied Physics as both an undergraduate and postgraduate at Nottingham University, where MRI was invented. 

Martyn has worked in industry for a number of companies in physics and engineering research including Rolls-Royce Aero-Engines (Combustion Engineering), Kodak (Colour Physics) and Picker International (MRI/S) in both the UK and the USA where he helped develop the first ever commercial MRI scanners during the 1980s.

Martyn left industry for academia in 1991, establishing an MR physics research group at University College London to investigate Neurological MR Imaging and Spectroscopy as well as development of Interventional MRI. 

He joined the University of Sheffield in 1997 and was involved in setting up Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopy (MRI/S) research in a wide range of topics from advanced functional MRI to neonatal and in-utero imaging and hyperpolarised gas and fluid enhanced MRI/S. 

Martyn has a major interest in MR physics and engineering and has developed complete specialised MR scanners including all hardware, software and imaging sequences for orthopaedic and neonatal imaging which have been successfully commercialised. 

His involvement in the SPERM project was to advise on use of MR and analysis methods and help develop new methods for acquiring data rapidly.

In his spare time, Martyn plays bass guitar in rock and blues bands and grow chillies.

Visit Martyn's University of Sheffield staff profile.