Amy Yewdall

'The PhD project was just what I was after...'

  • Amy yewdall

PhD in Biochemistry

Postdoctoral Fellow, Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands

Her fascination for science led Amy to study her PhD at UC after growing up in North Canterbury. She says what drew her in was ‘how mind-boggling and wonderful it is that seemingly lifeless chemical and molecular exchanges can come together to form living organisms.’

Amy started at UC by studying a Mathematics course through the STAR programme while still a high school student at Christchurch Girls’ High School. She then travelled to the UK to complete her undergraduate degree at the University of Cambridge.

Returning to UC to do her PhD in Biochemistry was an easy decision.

‘The PhD project was just what I was after: interdisciplinary, cutting-edge, and involving structural techniques that I wanted to learn,’ she says.

One of her supervisors, Professor Juliet Gerrard, helped convince her that studying her PhD within the Biomolecular Interaction Centre (BIC) was the right place to be.

‘This PhD at UC with Prof. Gerrard was really fun and also enabled me to travel around the world for research as well as conferences, which have been life changing! In fact, the travels led me to an exciting postdoctoral fellowship in the Netherlands.

‘Being in an interconnected scientific community, such as BIC, made for easy collaborations and enabled me to seek advice from those with diverse scientific expertise.’

The facilities available through BIC, including a new analytical centrifuge, were also a factor.

‘Structural biology, which formed part of my PhD project, allowed for the study of some minute biological details,’ she says. ‘Evolved molecular interactions of biological systems can be exploited to generate novel materials for applications outside of the cell; this process is called “nanobiotechnology”, and it was a privilege for me to be part of this exciting, emerging field.’

She found the support of her fellow postgraduate students and her supervisor invaluable.

‘They also made the whole experience a lot of fun! Every day I learnt something new and that is what made the project so rewarding.’

Now that her PhD is completed, Amy is continuing with her work in nanobiotechnology with the aim of creating artificial cells, under a research group led by Professor Jan Van Hest at the Eindhoven University of Technology. The experience gained in her PhD combining lab work with reading and writing research will set her up well in her career.

She recommends students who are interested in Biological Sciences learn more about all the varied areas they can focus on while still an undergraduate student. Her advice is to ‘volunteer or do summer internships during your holidays so that when you finish your degree you will know which area you want to specialise in.’

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