Congratulations to Vanessa Vongsouthi for winning the RSC 3 Minute Thesis

Publication date
Monday, 22 Jul 2019

Congratulations to Vanessa Vongsouthi for winning the RSC 3 Minute Thesis on Friday 19th July!

It was fantastic to hear so many entertaining but informative talks at the 3 Minute Thesis Expo. We had 25 speakers from almost every area of research around the school. With a motley mixture of undergraduate and postgraduate students, postdocs, academics, and even a visiting professor in the audience, the afternoon was a true celebration of research at the RSC.

This is the first year that the RSC HDR expo has followed a 3MT format. Our panel of judges scored everyone using real 3MT criteria, and the audience could vote on two People’s Choice awards. The day was full of engaging talks, but when Vanessa stood up to talk about her work engineering an enzyme that can degrade plastic, there was a clear winner.

Vanessa Vongsouthi is a member of the Jackson group. She works in protein engineering, primarily on two projects: fusing proteins together to create fluorescent biosensors for the study of neurotransmitters, and enhanving the stability of an enzyme that can degrade PET plastic so that it can become industrially useful.

Harrison Barnett (Hill group) was a close runner up in the competition with his talk on making phones faster. His research on bridging metallic centres with a carbon atom offers a solution to the problem that transistors are fast converging to a minimum size threshold that it is difficult to cross with current materials science.

The two People’s Choice awards went to Julien Langley (Cox group) and Patrick Yates (McLeod group). Julien spoke about his quest for power, which he chose to search for amongst the molecular mechanisms of photosynthesis. He uses both the new electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) facility and the existing laser-optics laboratory in his research.

Patrick Yates persuaded us that malaria was a ticking time bomb, and that every new treatment that targets malaria simply pushed the clock back. Instead, the solution is to use host-directed therapies that alter machinery within the human body, as it is unlikely that we will develop resistance to not dying from malaria. Patrick is the recipient of a prestigious Rod Rickards scholarship and an RSC Teaching fellowship.

Many thanks to the RSC HDR committee for organizing this event. Until next year!