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Latest News from the Biomaterials Group...

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DECEMBER 06: AUSSIE TOUR (ALSO) ENDS IN HEARTBREAK!

In December Bill headed to Australia to spread the polysaccharide biomaterials word, (and as it turned out to once again suffer as England crashed disappointingly out of the Ashes, clutching defeat from the jaws of victory on numerous occasions) giving talks at Food Science Australia in Melbourne and Sydney, and at The Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Melbourne University. It was great to catch up with friends and cruise the Great Ocean Road for the weekend.

Then onto ANU to check out some very cool Optical Tweezers and hear about some interesting polymer simulations and finally to ANSTO to see the neutron scattering facilities they having coming on line.

 

The reactor and beamlines are some serious engineering..not the sort of thing you want to let Jonny or Aurelie loose on!

 

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NOVEMBER 06: HONOURS FOR JONNY!

 

A good month for the Hammock-Warrior. Jonny obtained a first class honours in Physics, and his Honours project work on simulating the action of polysaccharide degrading enzymes was published in Biochimica et Biophysica Acta. See our publications for details!

 

 

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OCTOBER 06: GOT TO WEAR SHADES!

Medhat has scooped around NZ$ 3000 from the Institute of Fundamental Sciences Graduate Research Fund to help buy a high sensitivty cell for our CE instrument. This should really help improve the sensitivity (Funny that!), hopefully around 5-10 times and will help in our experimental biopolymer characterisation activities. As they say in New Zealand, Good on yer' mate...

 

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SEPTEMBER 06: ALL TOOLED UP !

The following programmes are now on Grunt...

Mathematica;Ghemical (a chemical drawing programme - interfaces to GAMESS) - 2.10; GAMESS (general ab initio quantum chemistry package); Force Field Explorer / Tinker; Massively Parallel Quantum Chemistry; PSI3 and the Molecular Docking Programs DDOCK and ZDOCK.

Here is Jonny re-booting.

 

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AUGUST 06: HERE'S PADMESH!

Padmesh has joined the group this month to add a theoretical aspect to our work. He has already worked in the area of Statistical Mechanics of Polymers, in the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore and is supported by the Marsden Fund. We are interested in calculating and simulating mechanical behaviour from single chains to macroscopic biopolymer networks. He is already scrutinising Aaron's data and starting to realise that indeed Manawatu Younghearts do have a better chance of winning something this year than Arsenal! Welcome dude!

Here is a picture of his favourite player!!!! ........Professor Rooney.

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JULY 06: TAKING BIOMATERIALS TO THE PEOPLE!

The Biomaterials group was well represented at the Te Manawa Science Week held in July. This year the museum ran with a theme of “Health, Fitness and the Human Body ” which gave us a chance to get the kids excited about soft condensed matter physics, and make some fake snot.

Romaric “Just Give That a Squeeze” Vincent and Aurélie “I Love Squirty Worms Me” Cucheval intrigued the public with instant jelly worms and viscoelastic solids you could grab but then couldn't grab.... Abdenor “Not So Violent Please Little Man” Fellah did a sterling job of trying to control the youngsters as we endevoured to convince them which was easier to smash, plates or bones. Motoko “Well Its Well Worth It” Kakyashbashi told people exactly many how times they would have to lift that weight up to work off the chocolate bar of their choice, and Aaron “The Force” Marshall stunned the kids with his Jedi-like hovering ball tricks. Good job guys!

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JUNE 06: EUROPEAN TOUR ENDS IN HEARTBREAK!

In June Bill journeyed over to Europe to spread the polysaccharide word (and as it turned out to once again suffer as England crashed disappointingly out of the World Cup). Norway was the first stop, speaking at the 8th International Hydrocolloids Conference. Trondheim was beautiful and it was great to catch up with friends, and be able to use the P word liberally in conversation without being considered (too much of) a freak ! There were some excellent talks, particularly on fibrillar assemblies & the effects of shear, gelation models of semi-flexible biopolymers, and alginate fine structure. Particularly welcome was a few days in the Norweigen wilderness, tramping around and catching brown trout in the lake near my friends cabin. Sweet.

Then via enjoyable visits to the pectin-labs of Cambridge and Nantes, finally it was onto Italy to speak at the International Workshop on Mesoscale and Multiscale Description of Complex Fluids.The conference, in Prato, was really enjoyable and the talks varied and interesting, with the personnel highlights being the talks on the cytoskeleton.

Unfortunately, as shown on the right, some hurtful, callous & unsolicited long-distance banter from the French regarding a certain Cup de Monde resulted in a few last minute changes to Bill's presentation:

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MAY 06: DOCTORATE PRIZE FOR THE STRETCH-MASTER!

Our consummate stretcher of the single polysaccharides, Aaron Marshall, has recently received an award from the NTNU in Norway where Aaron did his doctorate. Aaron's thesis was entitled "Electrocatalysts for the Oxygen Evolution Electrode in Water Electrolysers using Proton Exchange Membranes: Synthesis and Characterisation" and for this work he has been awarded a prize for the best technical thesis out of his year. In addition to the prestige and a huge wad of cash he also gets this rather large bunch of flowers. As they say on the web-site Aaron Marshall mottok Exxon Mobils forskningspris for grunnforskning.. Good on yer dude. Aaron has also devloped interests in "Beaver-Roleplaying" and unusual therapies of the inner ear....don't try this at home kids!

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APRIL 06: CAKE COMPETITION GATHERS MOMENTUM

With Rob Ward joining us this month and Jonny staying with us to do his Honours project the group is looking heathly. Fitting then that we have started to hold fortnightly group meetings on Thursday afternoons at four, for the discussion of all things biopolymer over a nice cup of tea and a piece of cake! So far we have heard about oligosaccharide syntheisis, polymer stretching with AFM, particle tracking, and mucin structure....oh yeah and I might have mentioned pectin once or twice?! We are always looking for interesting speakers on any area of biophysics, biomaterials, biopolymers. We have also been treated to Bill's cookies, Jonny's pikelets, Pavel and Veronika's cake, and Romaric's coffee and chocolate tart. Mmmmmmm....roll up next meeting !!

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MARCH 06: THE FRENCH ARE BACK!

182 years after Jules Dumont d'Urville sailed to New Zealand, looking for somwhere to site a penal colony, the French are back in numbers! Undeterred by the inability of the English speakers of the world to spell their names and not put off by the fact that after six months Bill still can't pronounce Romaric's name properly, we have been joined by two new PhD students from France. Aurelie and Abdenor will be working on projects related to the interaction of pectins with proteins. Bonjour Dudes! Je Suis Une Rock Star.

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FEBRUARY 06: YOU SPIN ME RIGHT ROUND BABY, RIGHT ROUND!

Motoko Kakubayashi has been working with us over the summer helping with our rheo-NMR exploits. This work has been carried out in association with Dr Pat Edwards, Robin Dykstra and Magritek. We now have some lovely experimental results showing the behaviour of liquid crystal and biopolymer systems (not all of them!) in Couette flow, and have managed to entice Motoko to continue to work with us for her Masters project.

 

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JANUARY 06: STRETCH MONSTER!

Dr Aaron Marshall has joined the group and is applying his AFM expertise to further refining our single molecule stretching experiments. He has previously developed novel AFM based techniques to explore properties of electrodes under real operating conditions and has broad interests including inorganic chemistry, materials technology, and mechanochemistry. Welcome to the sweet world of the stretchy!

 

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