The ability to control the self-assembly of biological molecules to form defined or functional structures with a high degree of predictability is a central aim for soft matter science and synthetic biology. While this is possible for a variety of colloidal materials, it has been more difficult to achieve for proteins. In large part, this is due to the complex chemical nature of the protein surface, which influences the assembly process. It is therefore important to understand this complexity to reveal the mechanisms underlying important processes such as protein crystallization, the pathogenesis of protein condensation diseases, the aggregation of proteins during industrial manufacture and the formation of protein-based materials.
In this project, we will examine how protein assembly and phase transitions are impacted by the other components normally found in biological environments such as salts, sugars, polymers and other proteins. This is important in understanding how phase transitions occur in cells and other biological fluids, which influence non-membrane bound organelle formation and the pathogenesis of condensation diseases. Working in the McManus research group and combining a soft matter approach to self-assembly with scattering and fluorescence microscopy techniques, we will examine both the thermodynamics and kinetics of these processes. Further details on the group and research can be found here: http://www.bris.ac.uk/people/person/Jennifer-McManus-4837d47c-f6a4-4f9c-b3be-e498cec71b74/
Candidates should have completed an undergraduate degree (minimum 2(i) honours or equivalent) in Physics, Physical Chemistry or Chemical Engineering.
How to apply:
Please make an online application for this project at http://www.bris.ac.uk/pg-howtoapply. Please select “Physics PhD” on the Programme Choice page. You will be prompted to enter details of the studentship in the Funding and Research Details sections of the form. Please make sure you include the title of studentship and the contact supervisor in your Personal Statement.