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Thomas Shakespeare

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Summary

I started my PhD project in 2018 under the supervision of Professor John McGeehan, Professor Andy Pickford and Dr Gregg Beckham working on a project titled:

New enzymes for degrading plastics: a combined structural and synthetic Biology approach

Plastic polymers are now part of our everyday life and we have become closely associated with these materials. Plastics such as poly(ethylene terephthalate), or PET, are highly versatile, but are accumulating in the environment at a staggering rate as discarded packaging and textiles. The chemical properties that make PET so useful also endow it with an alarming resistance to natural biodegradation, likely lasting several centuries in the environment. Our collective reliance on PET and other synthetic polymers is likely to increase, therefore, we urgently require solutions for recycling these materials through processes that are both economically and environmentally sustainable. This project focuses on an integrated chemical and biological approach, capitalising on recent advances that have revealed microbial enzymes that have the remarkable ability to depolymerise man-made plastics.

Biography

I joined the University of Portsmouth in 2013, studying a BSc in Biochemistry. I completed my final year undergraduate research project in the lab group of Professor Anastasia Callaghan and in July 2016, graduated with a 2:1 BSc (hons) in Biochemistry.

In September 2016, I started my Masters of Research Science (MRes) under the supervision of Professor Anastasia Callaghan within the universities biophysics laboratories. My research focussed on the structural and functional characterisation of a conserved protein within pathogenic bacteria as an anti-microbial target. I finished my MRes in September 2017 graduated with Distinction in July 2018.

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