The Xanthophyll Cycle in Photosystem II

Friday, 23 May 2014

First blog, little introduction to photosyn-this!

So here it is, my first blog J

In this blog I will mainly be talking about my feelings towards the whole studentship and science issues which are relatable to my areas of interest in research. The two main themes will be upon artificial photosynthesis & synthetic biology. I really feel that synthetic biology is the way forward in life! I will try and write it in a simplistic way so even non-scientific aware readers can easily pick up on this!

 Anyways, let’s start from the beginning. I remember when I got my acceptance letter for the Biochemical Society Studentship. It was during the start of my exam season, which is never fun. However, I did remember being very joyous at the time. Not trying to be arrogant or egotistic in anyways, but I kind of always knew I would get it, not because I am a role student, but because I really put my heart into writing the whole personal statement for this studentship. I truly believe if you put your entire soul and heart into something, the outcome should always be positive, unless it was never meant to be.

The overwhelming happiness that came from this email, WOOHOO!! I GOT IT :D

The whole reason why I applied for the studentship was because while searching for options after graduation and generally reading about science newspapers/ books. I stumbled upon a book called “Regenesis: How synthetic biology will reinvent ourselves and nature.” It was from reading this book that I discovered my true inner interests in synthetic biology. I finally found something that was innovative enough and a science that could really offer big change in the world. I’ve always been really into the whole “energy and sustainable living” themes in life. I think it arose from GCSE geography. I think I just appreciate energy because I know without it I would not have the lifestyle that I enjoy to live, such as being able to Whatsapp my friends and use the internet to read upcoming news, being able to travel to other countries and explore- something I love so dearly. So basically after I just searched in my school department for a professor perfectly suited to my future goals in life, and I found him. Professor Alexander Ruban. Gosh, wasn’t I lucky to find him, he is such an expertise in his field and regularly publishes papers *o*. Obviously at the time I didn’t know this, but once I knocked on his door I knew he was the supervisor to pick because he was so passionate about his research and it seemed like he would be helpful if I ever got confused with the studentship. Call me lucky, as he was the first one I approached and was so willing to take me on. Maybe some things were destined? Ha.

In ways I believe I am an activist in character, I want change. I want to see change in this world. I think ever since University and the whole maturity and aging process, I have stopped turning a blind eye to these modern day issues, which no one really actually genuinely worries/ cares about. Seriously, ask your friends or family members, when do they ever think about how the energy resources are rapidly depleting in this world? How would such depletion affect the way the modern day world turns? You won’t have your laptops, I-phones or cars….we would basically revolt back to the stone ages (I know that such happenings are very unlikely to happen, but it could!) Things that I really think need to be tackled in the energy problem. Yes, I know there are many researchers already working on this issue, but I think the 21st century, energy really should be in the form of renewable, nontoxic and non-harmful source. This is why I think artificial photosynthesis is the way forward, already there has been a developing prototype of a “leaf” which can use the sunlight, to convert CO₂ and H₂O into O₂ and H₂, which H₂ can be used for fission to create energy. It is eventually hoped that the “leaf” will be stored in homes, being able to generate energy for the entire household. So how cool is that? Having a device which acts like a leaf attached to your house, generating energy spontaneously when there is sunlight, then storing it for night time use? You would never even need to pay an electricity bill ever again as you are basically taking energy directly from the no.1 source in the world: the potent sun! Think how much money you could save and how much better the world would be, because we would no longer need pylons for the national grid… Obviously, the leaf device itself will not be cheap, but like most good things in life, investments need to be made in order to get good returns. It is true for anything in life.

Anyways, I shall end with nice, easy to watch videos about artifical photosynthesis. I love watching educational videos like these on youtube. For me it's always easier to learn when watching a video than just plain reading~ I'm a visual learner :)

Here is the artificial photosynthetic leaf that I've been on about in this blog. Love it! Think if most of you watch this video you will probably understand my enthusiasm for this area of research. It's just so exciting :) Alot of my friends who I tell them about this, get a really wow reaction too!

This is another one of my favourite videos, which made me really get into artificial photosynthesis. When I find a research area that I like I always youtube it first for a overall easy overview on the topic! This video clearly highlights the fact that artificial photosynthesis could help reduce carbon emissions and global warming; hence a probably decrease in freak weather, while also generating energy! Also researchers are from Panasonic! Find it really cool how Panasonic are investing into this research :) Having being to Japan myself and absolutely love their culture, it's cool to know that a country I love so much I could possible work in the future, if I plan to specialise into artificial photosynthesis. Especially, puts my Japanese skills that I've been learning at night class over my entire 2nd year to use :)

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