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Latest News from the Biopolymers Group...

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DECEMBER 09: DOCTOR DOCTOR !

Congratulations to Dr. Hoang! Any more Doctors this year and I'll have to start paying royalties to UFO..! Well done Van. Van has left NZ to move to Canada with her husband who has a position there. All the best Van, hope the wooden sheep will bring back fond memories..sorry it doesnt have a stomach you can rip out!!

It was also a farewell to Naser and Padmesh this month. Naser did a great job of setting up our AFM measurements and Abdenor continues to collect data using the system. Naser is now back in Europe; which having now submitted his thesis is also where Padmesh has ended up with a postdoc in the Theoretical Chemistry Group in Bochum, Germany in the group of Prof. Marx, continuing to pursue his interests in computational chemsitry. Good luck to both for the future - hope you are enjoying the European weather?!!! Happy Chrimbo......!..I'll chuck a couple of shrimps on the BBQ for you.....

 

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NOVEMBER 09: DOCTOR DOCTOR !

Congratulations to Dr. Cucheval. Superrrrr!!!!......Aurelie was awarded her PhD this month. Luckily she will not be leaving us quite yet and will still be around for a few months yet helping with some work on modelling PME-modified pectins...Luvly. Here she is (Far Right) undergoing a trial period in her ideal job!!!

 

 

Well done to Chris Lepper who has managed to get some funding to work with us over the summer again, continuing the rheo-NMR liquid crystal work with Pat Edwards. We had a great day down at Vic talking and working with Jen Brown and Paul Callaghan on this system and using their probe managed to get some lovely deuterium spectra spatially resolved across the gap in our couette cell.

The month ended with an entertaining MacDiarmid PI meeting and Postdoc and Student Symposium up in Auckland. Great to catch up with colleagues from all over NZ, thanks for the hospitality! A great end to the month with another trip to Auckland to see the inspirational Eddie.

 

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OCTOBER 09: SCIENCE IS PEOPLE !

Enjoying plenty of nourishing science-wibble this month I couldn't but help be reminded of Alan MacDiarmid's saying that "Science is people". We started off with visits from Jonny and hearing about the neurons in the visual cortex, and then was great to have Warwick Bowen over, also from Queensland. Warwick gave a great talk on some of the current research going on in his group involving using microtoroidal resonators-eventually aimed at examing decoherence in macroscopic objects-as well as spending time to talk optical tweezers and position detection schemes with us.

 

 

The month ended with a MacDiarmid Institute Theme IV meeting down in Wellington, and then Davide presenting his Brownian Dynamics work on the charge surface of beta-lactoglobulin at a Riddet Institute Symposium - then off to Europe for his EMBO stint at Cambridge via Melbourne where he carried out some analytical ultracentrifugation experiments with Dr Ren Dobson.

 

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SEPTEMBER 09: TWEEZER MEISTER SACRIFICED POP CAREER!

The truth behind Steve's Scandanavian origins was revealed this month, along with a tale of divorce, dungarees and pop stardom........Here he is (far left) before deciding that science was where his true love lay and giving up the limelight.......

Was also good this month to welcome Elizabeth Conner back for a day who interviewed us regarding our (very positive) Blue Fern experiences.

 

 

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AUGUST 09: SOFT MEETS BIOLOGY !

Bill travelled back from Europe via an excellent Gordon Research Conference in New England, organised by the Soft Matter Physics Group, entitled "Soft Meets Biology". Inspirational!

...and speaking of the interface between physics and biology it was excellent this month to have Lisa Kent start workingwith us. Lisa hails from the USA where she studied at the Universities of California Davies and Arizona, and has a background in biological sciences with a Masters in evolutionary biology. Lisa has been working on preparing specific DNA sequences, end lablled to attach to beads, so we can stretch them in Optical Tweezers experiments....Welcome Lisa!!

 

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JULY 09: DOCTOR DOCTOR !

Congratulations to Dr. Med!!! He and his family have now returned to Cairo where he has a position in the Pharmacy Department and is, among other things continuing to pursue his interest in CE. Well done Med, was great working with you.

Meanwhile, Bill travelled to Europe to spend some time with Marie-Christine Ralet at INRA in Nantes. It was a great trip, excellent to swap pectin-thoughts and continue to plan collaborative work; not to mention French hospitality, food, and a rather large mechanical elephant.....

Aurelie and Abdenor were also in Europe to present their work at the Hydrocolloids Conference in the UK.

 

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JUNE 09: EMBO AWARD!

In June, Bill, Steve and Medhat travelled down to Wellington to attend a Microfluidics workshop, a fascinating and diverse area that we are getting into as a way of improving the utility of our Tweezers experiments....

Also, was great to have Davide down here again this month, and not only has his work been highlighted in the Riddett Institute Report, but he has also managed to gain a "no summer this year" award!....

In fact he has been awarded a prestigous EMBO Fellowship to carry out 3 months research at Cambridge University in the UK, to progress our computational modelling of protein interactions. Here is a nice piccie of the weather you should expect !!! Seriously, excellent job dude, Belisimo!!!

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MAY 09: PhD POSITIONS AVAILABLE!

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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APRIL 09: LIGHT IS THE NEW BLACK!

This month Bill, Erich and Aurelie made the trip to the Australian Synchrotron to perform some SAXS experiments on polysaccharide gels. For any experimentalist this facility is fantastic....that is some piece of gear!....and working through the night to the soothing sounds of Rush's classic 2112 was a great experience-make no mistake, at times like that being a scientist is the best job on the planet!!. On top of that, thanks to help from our CSIRO collaborators and the most excellent beamline scientists the results are also looking exciting......! We will be back!

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MARCH 09: HERE'S STEVE !

A big welcome to Steve Keen who has joined the group this month on a two year postdoctoral fellowship funded by the MacDiarmid Institute. Steve has carried out his PhD in the Optical Tweezers group in Glasgow and will be working on devloping applications with our new system; which should be completed next few months, with the addition of a few final parts.......

Biopolymer Group & Friends; Feb 18th, 2009.

Top: Chris Lepper, Rob Ward, Davide Mercadante, Aurélie Cucheval, Van Cam Hoang, Naser "Tall" Belmiloud, Motoko "Shorter" Kakubayashi, Medhat Al-Ghobashy

Bottom: Erich Schuster, Stephen Keen, Bill Williams, Abdenor Fellah, Padmesh Anjukandi

Also in March Padmesh travelled to Aachen in Germany to attend a workshop on computational modelling, where he presented a poster on his Brownian Dyanamics work - for this he was awarded 3000 bucks from the IFS Graduate Assistance Fund, well done dude!

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FEBRUARY 09: KLAUS & THE BIOPOLYMER GROUP !

It was great to meet up with Klaus Kroy this month, first at the MacDiarmid AMN4 Conference, at the the University of Otago, down South in Dundedin; where among other things Bill was spotted wearing a shirt and a waistcoat (?!?).

Bill and Padmesh gave presentations on work going on in our group, while Erich and Abdenor presented posters. Klaus gave a great paper on Rheological Redundancy -from Polymers to Living Cells; and talked about the glassy wormlike chain model, which we are currently applying to some of our polysaccharide networks......

 

 

Subsequently, we lured him back to Palmy for a few days, and he presented some further talks in the North Island, at Massey on Sand Dune Formation and at Victoria Univerity of Wellington about Hot Brownian Motion. We all managed to squeze in a Group trip on the Tongariro Crossing : happily Erich's interest in meterology paid off, and it was a beautiful day!

 

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JANUARY 09: CLARE, ARE WE SAFE TO TURN THE LASER ON NOW?!

The year has started in exciting fashion!

 

Not only have we just found out we have been granted some SAXS beam-time in the first cycle at the Australian Synchrotron, but the lab was visited by Indie-Pop sensations The Deirdries, who were inspired by our dancing microbeads and will most likely lay down a track based on their experience - complete no-doubt with a rip-roaring Glockenspeil solo.....

 

 

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