Scheme: University Research Fellowship
Organisation: University of Warwick
Dates: Oct 2010-Sep 2013
Summary: Undertanding why nature has chosen a select few biomolecules as our 'molecular building blocks' has stimulated a vast amount of interest in the recent literature. With reference to our research, we focus on why these biomolecules have an inherent resistance to ultraviolet radiation. Our work focuses on understanding what the underlying photoprotection mechanisms are in these molecules by effectively taking snapshots of what happens when biomolecules absorb this harmful radiation. The timeframes involved are exteremely short (as fast as one millionth of a billionth of a second) and as such we use very short pulses of light from state of the art lasers that essentially provide ultrashort shutter speeds to record such images. Our hope is to learn how small subunits of larger biomolecules respond to ultraviolet radiation and build in complexity to larger and larger molecules, effectively piecing together natures blueprint to photostability.
Dates: Nov 2005-Sep 2010
Summary: Photochemistry of biomolecules using femtosecond time-resolved spectroscopy: Photochemical processes play an integral role in our day-to-day lives. Nature has carefully chosen our molecular building blocks so that the potentially devastating effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation absorption are by-passed. The research in my group is aimed at identifying various key pathways involved in the photochemistry of molecular building blocks of life such as amino acids and DNA bases. The research uses a bottom-up approach in which the complexity of the system is increased in a stepwise fashion with the goal of identifying common photochemical pathways en route from the microscopic to the macroscopic. The potential impact this research may have is vast and interdisciplinary, spanning chemistry, physics and biology. The work lends itself to experimentalists working in related areas of molecular dynamics such as energy transfer processes in larger biomolecules and light harvesting in cell biology thus bridging the gap between chemical physics and biophysics. In addition, the work will be of particular interest to theorists working in this field. These measurements will go some way to validating their calculations and also pose new challenges as these studies will explore the complex interplay between multiple reactions paths and the ways these paths are coupled with one another.