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I graduated from the University of Leeds with a first class BSc (Hons) in Biology, in which I specialized in genetics and molecular biology. My previous lab experience has included working to dissect a method of vacuolar sorting in plant cells. In addition, I have experience in the engineering of the Hepatitis core protein for epitope presentation as the basis of a vaccine and/or drugs delivery platform, for which I was awarded funding from the Society for General Microbiology.
I joined the CDT in Molecular-Scale Engineering in order to challenge my molecular biology knowledge and skill and integrate them with the plethora of other disciplines that the course harbors. This is allowing me to take a step back from the things that I understand and re-evaluate how biology can be used artificially and synthetically, by considering the chemistry, physics and engineering approaches nature has taken. In this way we are able to intelligently re-design and re-use nature for novel purposes, such as the production of bioelectronic devices.
In a broad sense, my research interest is in the use of biological materials as architectural components. I am particularly fascinated by DNA architectures and how we can exploit the high fidelity of the Watson and Crick base pairing, in order to produce specific geometries, patterns and structures.
My interest in this area includes design and construction of DNA scaffolds and the formation of nucleoprotein patterning complexes, using the E.coli SOS response protein RecA. Furthermore, I aim to interrogate such structures directly with atomic force microscopy (AFM), in particular the use of torsional tapping (TT-AFM), which would allow us to examine how the RecA protein interacts with the DNA. Hopefully, in the future, I may have the possibility of utilising video AFM, which would allow me to study the formation kinetics of such patterned structures.
However, my academic interests are rather more broad than my field of study, which is in keeping with the heart and soul of the CDT philosophy. Throughout my studies I have been involved with nanofabrication of both electronic and plasmonic devices, which goes some way to demonstrating how far a leap this course allows you to take from your respective backgrounds.
The CDT advantage
Of particular interest to me, when I joined the CDT for Molecular-Scale Engineering, was the incorporated masters year. This allows the chance of lab rotations within various interest areas, ultimately cumulating in the development of strong personal connections and a breadth of knowledge, that are a great aid to any researcher. I still feel that this is the most attractive way of choosing a particular research area, as it is based on informed decisions.
Furthermore, the interdisciplinary nature of the course allows for vast amounts of collaboration. Personally it is allowing me to become involved with areas of science that I would not have otherwise had the opportunity to do. With this in mind, I have been able to focus my research interest whilst broadening my background and furthering my knowledge and skills base; that is a difficult thing to achieve from any individual field of science.