My undergraduate degree was in Electronic Engineering here at Glasgow, and a work placement with a big power company gave me a taste of what lay in store if I took the graduate scheme route after my degree. I hadn't considered research until I took a course in bioelectronics during my final year. I was immediately hooked on the possibilities afforded by combining engineering and the biological sciences.
I chose the 4 year DTC program because I wanted to be ready to tackle a PhD head on, armed with a broader understanding of the biology and chemistry involved - having ditched them for physics at school.The MRes year effectively re-trained me as an interdisciplinary scientist, developing an understanding of the vastly complex systems that make the human body tick - and reinforcing that despite that complexity, they could be engineered and manipulated.
"The interdisciplinary nature of my work –interfacing with engineers and biologists – means that there is always something new to learn and exciting new ideas to pursue."
My PhD focuses on the fabrication of new micro- and nanostructure screening platforms for biomedical applications, be that implantable devices or ex vivo culture systems. I work in the James Watt Nanofabrication centre creating arrayed topographies for screening optimal surface properties. I then replicate these structures by injection moulding in various biocompatible polymers. Then, I carry out cell culture experiments to quantify cell response to the arrayed surfaces.
I've been using high content screening of fluorescent microscopy data to suggest optimised surface parameters, and even doing some machine learning to improve the insight gained from experiments. For example, optimising nanostructuring of prospective cardiovascular stent materials to inhibit the common problem of fibroblast invasion, and the threat of restenosis.
Working in both the James Watt Nanofabrication Centre and the Centre for Cell Engineering provides me with a vast array of exciting work, equipment to use and experts to talk to.
Paul Reynolds (2010 cohort)
During the final year of my undergraduate degree in electronic engineering, I became interested in the novel applications of engineering technology to biology and related life sciences.
There is ample opportunity to interact with scientists of different disciplines.
The DTC presented an opportunity to perform research at the interface of these differing subjects without being at a significant disadvantage, with the M.Res year giving a necessary grounding and appreciation for the subject matter which I had previously not encountered. I am currently involved in research in the biomedical engineering group at the University of Glasgow into the use of plasmonics for spatial control of biomolecules to ultimately aid in the detection of these molecules.
The nature of this research (in common with other work being done at the DTC) is such that there is ample opportunity to interact with scientists of different disciplines who can offer alternative, refreshing perspectives on possible implications of the research work being undertaken which provides an interesting context in which to view sometimes esoteric subject matter which is a pretty gratifying position to be in.
Olurotimi Esan (2011 cohort)