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Latest News from the Biopolymers Group...

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DECEMBER 08: STIRRING UP A STORM !

This month Chris Lepper has been back working in the group over summer. We have been working closely with Pat Edwards on the effects of shear on a number of liquid crystal systems using our rheo-NMR cell; and recently a number of our preliminary results were presented as a poster at the NZIC conference. Chris is planning to do Honours next year and will be great to have him back then for a more extended project.

It was also good to have Jen Brown, a postdoc from Paul Callaghan's lab down for the day to run some experiments on the behaviour of macromolecules under shear.

 

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NOVEMBER 08: CIAO !

It was great to have Davide come down from Auckland and visit for a week this month. We had some interesting discussions about proteins, modelling macromolecular intractions, European football and whether all pasta is the same (apparently not!!.....not like noodles!). We also got set up to do some molecular dynamics simulations using the Blue Fern supercomputer down at Canterbury and, thanks to Geoff, Davide saw a bit of the Manawatu on the Centre of Structural Biology annual outing. Was good to catch up with Laurie too and hope to see you down here again before too long.

 

 

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OCTOBER 08: HERE'S NASER !

At the end of October Naser Belmiloud arrived from Beaudeux to take up a years postdoctoral fellowship working on extending our polymer stretching work, by developing an improved methodology with the AFM. Naser undertook his PhD working on the use of actuated microcantilevers for the measurement of fluid properties at the IMS Laboratory, at the University of Bordeaux, France, where his research interests were in microrheology and MEMS technology. His other interests include US football, rugby and he has a developing interest in Manchester Utd.

 

 

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SEPTEMBER 08: HERE'S PHILIP !

Philip Patty has joined the group as a part-time research assistant. Philip has a PhD from Simon Frazer Univeristy in Canada where he worked on liposomes, including their characterization with DLS. Philip has been helping set-up our scattering facilities as the lab has a major overhaul to incorporate some new gear...

Also this month Bill, Erich and Padmesh crossed the pond to catch up with Australian colleagues at CSIRO, in particular discussing simulation methodologies for single chain stretching and network straining,and planning some sexy experiments on the Synchrotron. Photos from David "Padmesh" Bailey will follow shortly......

 

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AUGUST 08: DOCTOR, DOCTOR !

This month Romaric successfully had his PhD viva. Not only did he manage to squeeze it in amongst his busy farewell party schedule, but he passed too! Well done dude, it was sweet. We hope you had the time of your life....and wait till you see the nice St.Georges Cross design I picked for the cover of your thesis binding!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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JULY 08: BONJOUR AND ADIEU!

This month it was a very big pleasure to have Marie-Christine Ralet and Denis Renard visiting the group from the INRA in Nantes, France. Unfortunately, they left the European summer to arrive in NZ in the wettest weather for decades! It was excellent to carry out some experiments together and exchange ideas, especially on pectin (sorry Denis, gum arabic just can't compete!!!) Marie and Denis both made interesting presentations on their work before leaving , and Marie stopped off to visit Philip Harris' lab in Auckland on the way home.

 

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JUNE 08: SINGING IN SINGAPORE !

This month Bill and Aurelie presented at the 9th International Hydrocolloids Conference. Personel highlights included talks about cell wall polysaccharides, oligo-electrolytes, and the shear denaturation of proteins. It was great to catch up friends and colleagues; take a dose of Vitamin D, eat great local food, marvel at the Sea-Cow, drink a beer at The Clinic, and meet the John Denver singing taxi-driver.......take me home country road.....

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MAY 08: TWEEZERS LIFT OFF - STAGE 1!

The first stage of our new Optical Tweezers set-up was delivered by Arryx this month. Thanks to Christopher and Neil for making the trip from Chicago to help with the installation. The basic Holographic Optical Tweezers (HOT) were installed, essentially consisting of a laser, focussed via a spatial light modulator (SLM), through the objective of a fluorescence microscope. Presently, multiple beads can be trapped and their positions monitored with a CCD camera. Watch this space for some cool pics and clips....

 

 

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APRIL 08: HERE'S ERICH !

A warm welcome this month as Erich arrives from Austria. Erich has a Masters in Computational Physics form the University of Vienna, where he worked on efficient computational stategies in order to calculate the Lennard-Jones potential between extended objects, with a view to modeling liquid crystal systems. He has joined us to take up a PhD Studentship supported by CSIRO and is working on approaches to calculate the properties of biopolymer networks. With a developing interest in tramping and climbing he looks sure to take over the "most likley to die in the mountains" mantle from Romaric.

 

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MARCH 08: POSITIONS AVAILABLE!

POSTDOCTORAL FELLOWSHIP IN BIOPHYSICAL APPLICATIONS OF OPTICAL TWEEZERS

An exciting opportunity exists for a postdoctoral researcher to join our group to work on applications of our new optical tweezers system, particularly to microrheology and single molecule stretching. The work will form an important part of the MacDiarmid Institute's Soft Materials Theme http://www.macdiarmid.ac.nz/THEMES/theme4.php .

We are seeking a high-calibre experimental physicist / physical chemist with experience of optical tweezers, preferably in the soft-matter or biophysics area.

PhD STUDENTSHIP IN MICRORHEOLOGICAL STUDIES OF BIOPOLYMER NETWORKS

Soft materials based on bio-polymeric networks are ubiquitous both in the natural world and the technological arena. Elucidating structure-function relationships in such biomaterials promises to reveal Nature's design rules, and illuminate the way to optimally exploit biopolymers as engineering materials. The assembly and directed breakdown of model biopolymer composites of controlled molecular structure will be studied using micro-rheological measurements.

The project will suit a student with a good background in physics or physical chemistry, who likes working at the interface between different areas of science.

PhD STUDENTSHIP IN PECTIN PROCESSING ENZYMES

The fine structure of the polysaccharide pectin is crucial to its in-vivo and in-vitro functionality and can be modified by a host of attendent enzymes. The molecular basis of the interaction between pectin and pectinmethylesterase will be studied, in particular focusing on how control of this interaction generates different tailored polymeric structures.

The project will combine molecular biology, x-ray diffraction studies and biophysical modelling.

Parties interested in any of these openings are encouraged to send an email to m.williams@massey.ac.nz including a CV, for further details.

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FEBRUARY 08: TOYS FOR THE BOYS !

OK, so maybe I don't get out much, but I thought moving our optical table into place using a rather large crane was a thrill a minute! Thanks to all those involved, especially Steve, Barry, Brian and Bob.

This month also saw Bill back in Aussie, giving a talk at UQ, and catching up with good friends Jonny and Eddie.

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JANUARY 08: AUFWIEDERSEHEN !

Christian left to travel the islands this month, before returning to Germany at the beggining of March. Christian skydived in Taupo, learned how to fly-fish on the Mohaka and somehow also found time to perform some interesting experiments on acid-induced gels of yep, you guessed it, pectin the many splendoured polysaccahride. We wish him all the best for the future, as long as he never mentions European footy again....

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