Outcome of Carnegie/Caledonian PhD Scholarships round 2020
Project Title: An Integrated Approach Towards the Environmentally Responsible Synthesis of Platform Chemicals
Platform chemicals are the chemical building blocks used to make a variety of industrial and consumer products, such as clothing, furniture, and food additives. Given their utility, there is incredibly high demand for such chemicals, with millions of tonnes manufactured every year. However, many platform chemicals are currently produced from non-renewable sources, specifically, fossil fuels. Furthermore, use of fossil fuels for the manufacture of platform chemicals frequently produces greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and nitrous dioxide. Indeed, synthesis of even a single platform chemical can create more environmentally harmful greenhouse gases than all of the motor vehicles in the UK combined over the course of one year.
My project will focus on developing an environmentally responsible alternative for the synthesis of platform chemicals. In particular, I will genetically engineer bacteria such as E. coli so that they can synthesise platform chemicals of interest under environmentally benign conditions using renewable resources. The unique aspect of my project is that I will also utilise more traditional methods of chemical synthesis and interface these with my genetically engineered bacteria. By combining both traditional chemistry and cutting-edge synthetic biology techniques, my work will help develop unique and efficient alternatives to traditional platform chemical synthesis.
Awarded: Carnegie PhD Scholarship
Field: Biological Sciences
University: University of Edinburgh