DPhil student wins prize at crystallography conference
DPhil student Jonathan Brooks-Bartlett won the RCSB Protein Data Bank poster prize for the best student poster related to macromolecular crystallography at the European Crystallography Meeting earlier in the year.
Jonny is a second year student on the Systems Biology DTC programme. This was the first time he had made a poster and he used it to present preliminary results he had obtained as part of a 10 week summer project carried out with Professor Garman and Dr Oliver Zeldin, a postdoc in the lab at the time.
For his project, Jonny investigated radiation damage effects in X-ray crystallography experiments. His poster presented the work he had done using an existing model of damage decay applied to data that was collected by a previous student within the Garman group. It described ‘the application of a room temperature model for the dose decay of the spot intensity on a diffraction pattern to cryotemperatures (at 100 Kelvin) during macromolecular x-ray crystallography experiments.’
With a first degree in maths, Jonny chose to study on the Systems Biology DTC programme because he wanted to apply his mathematical skills to the field of life sciences. The first year was a transitional year that broadened his knowledge and awareness of various fields within the life sciences.
Although he initially thought that he would work on tissue engineering which his previous mathematical training was geared towards, he decided to try a project in a field that he was less comfortable with - X-ray crystallography. He has been mathematically modelling how the amount of radiation damage in X-ray crystallographic structural studies affects the quality of the diffraction pattern.
His summer project was very successful and rewarding. With the academic and personal opportunities it gave him, he decided to stay on in Professor Garman’s lab and continue the work. The aim of the research is to develop methods to reduce the effects of radiation damage which can sometimes be so severe that they prevent enough data collection for structure determination.