I work for Dr David Bhella in the Structural Virology group at the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research. We use cryo-electron microscopy to answer questions in virology; from whole virus structures to analysis of single proteins or protein complexes.
My project is expression and structural analysis of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) replicative complexes and whole virion structure, using cryo-electron microscopy.
The aims of my visit were to learn insect cell expression and purification strategies for the RSV replicative complexes, for later cryo-electron microscopy and 3D reconstruction.
I was also able to use the Structural Electron Microscopy Facility in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at the BU School of Medicine for an immediate read-out of the quality of my purification, before using it for structure determination at the CVR.
I work in the Division of Physical Biochemistry at NIMR, where I use cryo-electron tomography to image frozen-hydrated endothelial cells. In particular, I am interested in Weibel-Palade bodies, the secretory storage granule for von Willebrand factor.
Undertaking this research has given me experience in all aspects of cryo-electron microscopy, including automated data collection of tomographic series, using both FEI Spirit and Polara electron microscopes. I have continued to develop my image processing skills and have extended these skills to include tomographic reconstruction and segmentation.
Other aspects of the project have also involved gaining experience in some aspects of light microscopy, including confocal and wide-field fluorescence microscopy. More recently I have also been involved in training newer members of the lab in the use of the FEI Spirit and tomographic image processing.
I gained my Masters in the EM group at the School of Crystallography at Birkbeck, where I was awarded with a distinction. Specifically, I worked on the structure of human DNA replication factor Mcm10 using electron microscopy.
This project used single particle analysis image processing packages to calculate a 3D model for Mcm10, and introduced me to the field of electron microscopy. Practical skills gained from this project are: sample preparation for electron microscopy, use of FEI Tecnai T10/12 microscopes and film development and scanning. I also gained experience in using Linux operating systems and several image processing packages for electron micrographs.
First year modules: biochemistry, chemistry, genetics, microbiology and molecular biology.
Second year modules: biochemistry, molecular biology, pharmacology, physical chemistry and structural biology.
Third year modules: biochemistry, molecular biology, structural biology and a lab-based project.
For my third year project, I worked in the Department of Structural and Molecular Biology at UCL, as part of a project investigating co-translational folding of ribosome-nascent chain complexes using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. My project was to prepare ribosome-nascent chain complexes of yellow fluorescent protein using a ‘cell-free’ system. The project introduced me to work in a scientific environment and allowed me to get hands-on experience of the molecular biology techniques taught on the course, such as DNA purification and protein purification.
Degree classification: 2:2
Higher: Biology – 6, Chemistry – 6 and Maths – 4
Standard: English – 6, German – 5 and Psychology – 5
Extended essay: Chemistry
I hold a full UK driving licence.
- English (native speaker)
- German (studying at Goethe Institut London, currently level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages)