PhD Life – What I am doing while waiting for my crystals to grow.
Being involved in other projects.
We have a strong RAMP presence in Maynooth right now, with Jessica having just joined the lab and Cristina here on secondment.
I also have a helping hand this year, with a 4th year undergraduate student doing his final year project and we’re characterising different detergent systems. I’m working alongside Cristina and Jessica on their projects and we’re all learning new things together.
Giant Unilamellar vesicles (GUV) are a type of liposomes, microscopic vesicles, which are formed by phospholipid bilayers with a size above 1 µm. They differ from small unilamellar vesicles (SUV, 20-100nm) and large unilamellar vesicles (LUV, > 100 nm) only by the size. Due to their size range, GUVs can serve as ideal artificial cells to study membrane protein insertion and activity in the phospholipid bilayer. Based on previous work on GUVs for protein self-assembling studies in our lab, Cristina wants to establish a protocol for reconstitution of her membrane transporters in this system during her secondment in Maynooth.
Within her start as a RAMP student in Maynooth, Jessica is working on the purification of β-barrel and α-helical membrane proteins and we’re optimising some of the protocols together.
Helping out in different projects gives me the opportunity to learn new things. From this point of view, I really enjoy it and look forward to having more experiences with new projects.
Maintaining and establishing new collaborations:
For our work on experimental phase diagrams for membrane proteins we are working closely with Richard and Virginia in order to establish statistical models for crystallization and to integrate experimental results with statistical models. Stopping by Surrey in September for an update and discussion on our projects, was a very nice change from the days in the lab.
For the future work we are looking forward to growing bigger crystals with Esko and Swati for Neutron crystallography and working on new things with Poul and Sam.
What I wish I would have known before starting my PhD? – The day has only 24 hours and membrane protein crystals are far prettier when you see the ones you’ve grown yourself.