Jessica Ames

I was born and raised in a small, rural town in central Illinois in the USA. I studied chemical engineering at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Indiana for a couple of years before transferring to the University of Oklahoma. I graduated from the University of Oklahoma in August 2018 with a BS degree in chemical biosciences. When I’m not in lab, I love travelling, listening to and making music, and catching up with friends.

University of Bristol

start date | 14/01/2019

supervisor | Jennifer McManus



Nucleation and growth of membrane protein crystals in detergent, detergent/lipid and lipid phases

The shapes and structures of objects often provide valuable hints at their functions – and proteins are no different! Understanding the shape of proteins is crucial to understanding their roles within cells. Unfortunately, determining the structure of membrane proteins can be tricky because of their preference for a unique environment. The cell membrane, composed of lipids, contains an interior layer with no water and an aqueous exterior.

Through my PhD, I will be synthesizing variations of lipids to mimic the cell membrane. By changing characteristics of these lipids, and the resulting membrane, we aim to create an environment where different proteins are most happy. This will allow the proteins to crystallize, and will allow researchers to gain insight on their structure and function.

Original project advert

Skills & Expertise

Membrane proteins

#Protein crystallization

#Phase diagram

#Structural biology


#Project management

Secondments (in progress)

Molecular Dimensions (UK), TBC

University of Surrey (UK), TBC

Workshops & conferences

RAMP concluding workshop (online) | organized by European Spallation Source, December 2020

Workshop on research commercialization | University of Maynooth, December 2019

RAMP training – Writing, career planning, public engagement and dissemination/Leadership | Imperial College London/University of Surrey, July 2019

RAMP research- Membrane protein crystallography at new sources | University of Hamburg, Spring 2019

Outreach activities

Jessica has not just been doing research, she has also been involved in many science communication activities to engage citizens with science.

Creating a video clip to present her thesis work at Bristol| July 2021

Blogging about science and PhD life| see all blogposts from Jessica: Portrait, Working from Home during the Covid-19 pandemic, Having some time to deepen my thesis topic

Participating to the event “Crystals made of tears: from misery to cheer” at The Devereux pub in central London | July 2019

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