Hi! My name is Zara Smith and I’m a 2nd year PhD
student at the University of Manchester. I’m funded by EPSRC (Engineering and
Physical Sciences Research Council) and am currently based on the North Campus
of the university. I am part of the Biomaterials research group headed by Prof.
I finished high school in 2011, with A levels in Biology,
Chemistry and English Literature. Though
my decision to study Biology was a quick one and rather rushed, I REALLY
enjoyed studying for my undergraduate degree at the University of Hull, and
loved it enough to continue onto a Master’s degree in Nanotechnology and
Regenerative Medicine at UCL. I took a year out following this and worked as a
Trainee Assistant Analytical Chemist for TATA Steel in their environmental
monitoring department, before deciding on my PhD project. My work at Manchester
focuses on repairing tissues in the body that naturally would not heal by
themselves. I work specifically with the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL), a major
knee ligament, which accounts for the majority of sports injuries and has a
high rate of reintervention post-surgery.
So far my PhD has been great! I’ve travelled to a European
conference in Switzerland to present my work and been to another here in
Manchester, where I have met academics from all over the world. Hopefully there
will be many more opportunities to share my research with the academic
I first became interested in the field of Biomaterials when
I was doing my undergraduate degree, specifically the tiny biological
interactions that happen at a surface and how we can use those interactions to
guide a desired biological response. I have always been interested in creating
biomedical devices and helping to create something which would improve the life
of an individual and the medical field in that area, seemed almost like a
calling! After graduating from my Biology degree, I immediately began my
Masters. I completed a research project on the nano-delivery of growth factors
to a model central nervous system, which only served to fuel my interest in the
bio-responses of cells to materials on the micro and nano scale.
After the completion of my Master’s degree, though knowing I
wanted to do a PhD, I decided it was time to take a year out, gather some
industrial experience and take the time to find a project that aligned with my
interests. During this year, I was selected for an assistant position at TATA Steel
where I performed both regular sampling analysis and novel research in
analytical chemistry. I chose the ACL project at Manchester as it sounded
fascinating and combined all the areas I find interesting; fast forward a year
and I still absolutely love it! The project itself focuses on producing
materials that will encourage cells taken from the ACL to produce a protein
scaffold that matches as closely as possible the protein scaffold present in
the native ACL. This means that the cells will start laying down the protein
building blocks that are integral to building a native ACL, replacing the one
that has already been irreparably damaged. We are aiming to achieve this
through manipulating the cells at the surface of the materials with both
physical cues and proteins.
(A picture of ACL cells from a light microscope!)
For the most part, my days usually consist of lab work,
planning experiments, data analysis and reading and writing.
Due to the nature of the field, our group is highly
interdisciplinary. We have members from all kinds of disciplinary backgrounds spanning
biological sciences, chemistry and all types of engineering. This in itself
makes for a very interesting working environment where minds from very
different backgrounds can come together and work to build materials/technologies.
If you are interested in perusing Materials sciences, the University
of Manchester School of Materials webpage is here > http://www.materials.manchester.ac.uk/
Interested in the Biomaterials work in my group? Find out
more here > http://personalpages.manchester.ac.uk/staff/j.gough/ and here > http://www.materials.manchester.ac.uk/our-research/research-groupings/biomaterials/
We also have a school blog which details life as a materials
student and interviews a range of students and lecturers > http://www.mub.eps.manchester.ac.uk/uommaterialsblog/
If you are interested in the societies associated with
biomaterials research, take a look here > https://www.uksb.org.uk/
I’m Chloë and I’m currently studying a PhD in Nanoscience
through the North West Nanoscience Doctoral Training Centre (NoWNano DTC) at
The University of Manchester. My project is working on developing a Luminescent
Biosensor. The biosensor consists of a nanoparticle and an enzyme, which can
communicate with each other using light. The intensity of light of the
biosensor changes in the presence of certain molecules and so can be used to
I love science and I’m passionate about getting more people
interested in the subject. So in addition to my research I also work as a
Widening Participation Fellow with The University of Manchester and have my own
business ‘Science Party-cles’. These two things allow me to work with the
public and help make science more accessible.
Before coming to Manchester I was at Sheffield Hallam
University where I completed a BSc (Hons) in Pharmaceutical Science. I also
completed a placement year where I worked in a Pharmaceutical Company, which
helped me gain industrial experience. In my final year at Sheffield Hallam I
worked on a short research project developing gold nanoparticles which started
to develop my interest in nanoscience.
Nanoscience/ nanotechnology is a big area of research at the
moment. When you get down to the nanoscale (a nanometer is almost a million
times smaller than the width of a human hair) the properties of materials
change. People are trying to use these novel properties to create new and
interesting applications such as gloves that allow us to walk up walls like Spiderman.
A biosensor is a device that is used for the detection of
analytes (specific molecules of interest). They are really important tools for
the detection and treatment of diseases. One of the most common examples is the
blood glucose (a type of sugar) biosensor used by people with diabetes to check
their blood sugar level. Depending on the value given by the biosensor
diabetics know whether they need to increase or decrease their sugar
The biosensor I’m trying to develop consists of a nanoparticle
and an enzyme. Enzymes are very specific and can detect really small amounts of
molecules. Therefore, they are very sensitive and useful in biosensors. My
nanoparticle and enzyme are both fluorescent and can give off light. This means
they can communicate together by a process called Förster Resonance Energy
Transfer (FRET), where energy from the light of one molecule (my nanoparticle)
is transferred to another molecule (my enzyme). In the presence of an analyte
the energy transfer from the nanoparticle to the enzyme is altered and the
intensity of the light changes. This change in light intensity can be monitored
and allows for the detection of diseases.
While at Sheffield Hallam University I also got support from
their Research and Innovation Office to help set up my own business: Science
Party-cles. This business allows me to engage children and young people in
science alongside my PhD and has helped me develop other skills which I
wouldn’t be able to do just working in the lab.
Find out how we can walk up walls like Spiderman in the news
The research was developed by researchers at The University of Manchester.
For a brief introduction to biosensors click here,
but if you’re really interested here’s some in depth
To find out more about the route I took you can look at the
NoWNano DTC website here and
my business website here. This is a good website to help you
decided on what route you want to take.
my name is Lauren and I am a second year PhD student at The University of
Manchester. I was lucky enough to be selected for the NowNANO DTC programme. A
DTC (Doctoral Training Centre) programme is essentially a PhD and the NowNANO
DTC is a programme that specialises in Nanoscience. For those that don’t know
what Nanoscience is, it is science on a very very small scale – 10-9
m to be exact, that’s 1 million times smaller than a millimetre!
particular area of research looks at the molecular interactions in organic
crystals. Organic crystals are crystals that are made up of carbon atoms. My
focus is on hydrogen bonding behaviour in these crystals. One of the main uses
of these types of crystals is in Pharmaceutical tablets. The molecular
interactions in the crystals are what determine the properties of the crystal
and therefore how well the drugs work.
In order to get where I am now, I studied Maths,
Chemistry and Physics at A level. At the time, my plan was to become an engineer
and work on renewable energy. I studied for 4 years to get my master’s degree
in “Chemical Engineering with Environmental Technology”. In between my 3rd
and 4th year at university, I decided to see how much I enjoyed
Chemical Engineering by doing a 3 month placement with the Pharmaceutical
company Eli Lilly and Co. My job was to look at all of the water that was used
on site and try to find ways to reduce their water consumption. The project was
interesting and very challenging but for me it didn’t seem to fit my
For the degree that I was doing I was required to
complete a research project in my 4th year in order to get my
masters. As soon as I started this project I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I
spent a lot more time on my project than my friends did. I found myself reading
about the research in my spare time. I was very fortunate to find a project
that I enjoyed so much. My project was more chemistry and physics based rather
than engineering and I felt that this suited me better. When it came to the end
of the year and everyone else I knew was applying for jobs, I decided to apply
for a PhD instead. And the rest, as they say, is history!
research that I am working on now uses soft X-rays to look at molecular
interaction in organic (carbon based) crystals. This has a particular relevance
to the pharmaceutical industry as almost half of all pharmaceuticals are
administered as tablets. The actual ‘drug’ part of the tablet is almost always
an organic crystal. Learning more about these molecules helps the
pharmaceutical companies to decide things such as; how much drug should be in
the tablet, how quickly it will dissolve and how effectively it will spread
through the body.
like my research, firstly because I simply enjoy finding out new information.
Though, I particularly enjoy my research because I feel like I am making a
contribution to society and in a small way, helping other people. My research
is fairly fundamental, this means that it is all about the pure science. I am a
few steps removed from the practical applications of drug delivery. However,
the scientists that are working on the drugs need to know about their science,
which makes me feel like what I am doing is important, however small my
contribution may be.
Click here for more information about the
course Chemical Engineering with Environmental Technology.
information on Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science can be found here.
my spare time I am also a STEM ambassador. STEM is an organisation that aims to
promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
If you wish to find out more about the various jobs and carers that are
available through these subjects then have a look at this site.
you have been interested in my work then all of the information about my
research can be found on my research page.
pages you may find interesting that are related to my work include:
1. I work with
X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS). For those of you who want a challenge
have a look at how it works, you can find more information here.
2. What is a drug? Find out here.
My name is Stephen David Worrall and I am studying for a PhD
in Nanoscience through the North West Nanoscience Doctoral Training Centre
) working alongside an array of hugely talented researchers. This means I spend
my time researching cutting edge science and trying to further our
understanding of the world around us by performing experiments in the
laboratory and reading up on the latest scientific developments. I work in the
Centre for Nanoporous Materials (CNM
is in the School of Chemistry
here at the University of Manchester.
Working in the CNM for Dr Martin Attfield means that my work focuses on the use of “nanoporous materials”. You will
already be familiar with normal porous materials like sponges which contain a
network of interconnected channels, where this network reaches the surface of
the sponge can be seen with the naked eye. Nanoporous materials are very similar;
the difference is that the interconnected channels are between 1,000,000 and
100,000,000 times smaller than in a sponge, around 1 nanometre (nm) wide
instead of 10 – 1000 millimetre (mm) wide. The nanoporous materials I work on
are called Metal – Organic Frameworks (MOFs) which are a new, large group of nanoporous
crystals with a huge number of potential uses. I am interested in using them as
moulds to “grow” metal wires which, with the network of
interconnected channels in MOFs acting as a template, will be just 1 nm wide.
Such small metal wires could find uses in fields as varied as the catalysis of
pharmaceutically important chemical reactions and the fabrication of electronic
As well as working in the CNM, I also work for Professor
Robert Dryfe in his “electrochemistry” group; where
research is focussed on the interface between chemistry and electricity. It is
the work in this research group that enables me to “grow” metal wires by a
process called electrodeposition. The MOF crystals are attached to a sheet of
metal which is negatively charged, the coated sheet of metal is then placed in
a solution containing dissolved metal cations (which are positively charged).
The opposite charges attract each other and the dissolved metal makes its way
through the channels of the MOF crystals to reach the metal plate and deposit
as solid metal, as this happens over and over again the metal wires eventually
Before doing my PhD in Nanoscience, I studied for a MChem in
Chemistry with Industrial Experience in the School of Chemistry here at the University of Manchester. To get on to
this course I needed an A level in Chemistry and two other A levels, one of
which was a science. As I’d done Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Physics, I was
perfectly equipped! This degree was perfect for me as I got to spend my penultimate
year working full time for a FTSE 100 Chemical Company and my final year working for Dr Andrew Horn as a Masters researcher in his laboratory.
This gave me experience of both the industrial and academic career paths and
helped me make the decision to carry on with research after I finished my
It was the right decision for me as not only do I get to
research new, interesting and exciting science but being a PhD researcher also
gives me the opportunity to be involved in the fantastic outreach work that
goes on at the University of Manchester, both as an Outreach Demonstrator for the School of Chemistry and through my role as a Widening Participation (WP) Fellow.
I get to work with school children both in their schools and at the university
and enthuse them about my work and science in general through talks, workshops
and practical demonstrations. There are not many other jobs where you can explode
things on a regular basis!
For a list of the researchers working in the NOWNano DTC, the
fascinating and varied projects they are working on and the award winning
academics they are working for see here, here, here and here.
For the latest research going on in the CNM, click here.
For details on all the different sorts of Chemistry degree
the University of Manchester offers (doing a year in industry is just one of
your options!), see here.
For a fantastic video showcasing a day in the life of an
undergraduate chemistry student (and a little bit of the exciting stuff you can
get up to as an Outreach demonstrator!), click here.