Dr Samantha Hover

Dr Samantha Hover


Throughout my academic career thus far I have always been interested in the mechanisms of viral manipulation of host cells. This was particularly emphasised during my Masters by Research and subsequent PhD at the Univerity of Leeds in the lab of Dr Jamel Mankouri. I successfully investigated the role of host-cell K+ ion channels in bunyavirus infection using molecular biology techniques; through which I successfully published three 1st author research and review articles (JBC, JGV, Plos Path.). This project developed into structural techniques, in particular using cryo-electron tomography (cryo-ET) to determine the structural consequences of endosomal ionic conditions on bunyavirus glycoprotein structure. This structural investigation was completed during my first Post Doc position in Dr Juan Fontana’s lab (University of Leeds) and has recently been published in Nature Communications (Hover et al, 2023).

During my Post Doc in the Fontana lab, I honed my skills as a structural virologist to investigate the mechanisms of Influenza A virus ribonucleoprotein (RNP) transport from the nucleus to the plasma membrane. Extracting transport complexes from infected cells and assessing their composition via many techniques, however focused on using cryo-ET. This work in still ongoing and we have also recieved a BBSRC Pioneer Award to continue this work with an additonal Post Doc (J Fontana – I; J Barr & S Hover – Co-I).

Currently, I am a senior Post Doc and a Researcher Co-I (MRC) in the labs of Dr Juan Fontana and Dr John Barr (University of Leeds), continuing to utilise molecular and structural virology to investigate bunyavirus infections and RNP funcitonality.


  • Scientific researcher

Research interests

I am interested in the methods by which viruses manipulate host cells and the virus-host interactions required for a productive infection; utilising both molecular and structural approaches. My previous work focused on the role of host-cell K+ ion channels in bunyavirus infection. This led me to investigate how the K+ ion concentraion within endosomes directly affects Bunyamwera virus (BUNV, a model bunyavirus) glycoprotein structure; a key determinant for viral entry into host cells, pharmacological inhibition of which inhibits virus infection.

Currently, my research focuses upon:

- Investigating the mechanisms of Influenza A virus genome trafficking in host cells and packaging into nascent virions. The mechanisms by which the 8 viral genome segments all come together to produce progeny virions are largely uncharacterised. This process is critical for virus reassortment and pandemic potential, therefore understanding this process will allow greater understanding of how novel and potentially devastating pandemic Influenza A virus strains arise. Working in the Fontana lab, we aim to bring together a variety of molecular and structural virology techniques to investigate this process; in particular utilising the power of cryo-EM.

- A number of bunyavirus species across different families of the Bunyavirales order are identified on the WHO R&D blueprint as major pathogens of concern. It is therefore important that we improve our understanding of these viruses. In particular, my research in the Fontana/Barr labs focuses upon the structure of the viral ribonucleoproteins (vRNPs), which encompass the viral RNA genome encapsidated in nucleoprotein, and associate with the viral polymerase. Using cryo-EM and cryo-ET approaches, we aim to determine the native structure of a range of bunyavirus vRNPs.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://biologicalsciences.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • BSc Bachelors degree in Biological Sciences
  • MRes Masters by Research
  • PhD Doctor of Philosophy

Professional memberships

  • Microbiology Society

Student education


  • Project supervisor - Final-year research project supervisor (BSc, MBiol)
  • Research lab superviser & trainer - Day-to-day supervision of lab work for >20 capstone and research project students (BSc, MBiol, MSc, MRes, summer students) for Dr Jamel Mankouri, Dr John Barr and Dr Juan Fontana.


  • Lab demonstrator - Biological sciences 1st year undergraduate students.

Research groups and institutes

  • Host-pathogen interactions
  • Structural Virology
  • Structural Virology - Post doctorates
  • Virology
  • Virology - Post doctorates