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Research Fellows Directory

Jonathan Nield

Dr Jonathan Nield

Research Fellow


Queen Mary, University of London

Research summary

The biology and chemistry involved in photosynthetic processes remain crucial for our continued existence and life on Earth in general. Photosynthesis converts sunlight, a practically inexhaustible energy source, into chemical energy. Sunlight can be thought of as the ultimate renewable high energy source. A greater understanding of all natural light-harvesting systems will provide much needed insights into solving future energy demands, perhaps through the development of artificial photosynthetic systems or new methods to produce biohydrogen. In photosynthesis, carbon dioxide is fixed into organic compounds i.e. food (sugars) and the splitting of water, H2O, as a source of electrons, where the oxygen (as O2) we breathe is given off as a by-product and hydrogen (as H2, aka biohydrogen) may also be harnessed as a fuel. Naturally, and thankfully, this fixing of carbon dioxide means that photosynthesis off-sets the vast majority of our carbon emissions, placed into the atmosphere through respiration. In fact, it was just this process that laid down organic material to become oil, coal and natural gas. In this fellowship’s research, the transmission electron microscope and computer-based classification techniques are used as a tool to make important discoveries into observing the protein and cellular structures that drive photosynthesis. 3D structures of light-absorbing proteins are being published and the skills developed in our laboratory can also be used to probe other protein structure-based problems, which include light response, proteins that repair and regulate photosynthesis, and broad-ranging medical / human health questions.

Grants awarded

Scheme: University Research Fellowship

Dates: Oct 2001 - Sep 2012

Value: £565,849.13