What’s on : Lectures

The Biophysics Design Project: a collaborative arts-science approach

13 Feb 2018
Start time
7:30 PM
Tempest Anderson Hall
Dr Lorna Dougan, Department of Physics, University of Leeds

Event Information

Dr Lorna Dougan, Department of Physics, University of Leeds

Dr Lorna Dougan will introduce us to new developments in the specialist area of biophysics, including the work of her research group at the University of Leeds. The UK research council are funding this area of science as a priority because of its potential in the development of novel technologies, particularly in healthcare. She will also introduce the Biophysics Design Project, a collaborative arts-science approach to explore the physics of living systems through unconventional approaches.

Member’s report

The potential for using the attributes of protein molecules that thrive in extreme environments is the focus of the Biophysics Design Project. Extremophile molecules are those that live in conditions of, for example, extreme heat, salt, acid, even radiation. Their component atoms and bonds are folded. Modelling and unfolding these molecules gives clues to their survival mechanisms and ultimately offers potential for their application in such areas as the baking and brewing industries, in detergents and in medicine. It even offers the possibility of creating synthetic molecules.

In medicine, the manipulation of molecules to form a network, it is hoped, will lead to the development of smart materials for wound dressings that will protect, prevent infection, and promote healing. Internal use in bones and joints may be a little further off, but the potential is there.

Collaboration with an artist, who by asking questions about what happens around the protein, has opened new perspectives and challenged preconceptions. Even different embroidery stitches offer useful analogies to explore.

Carole Smith