Jan Cammann, a PhD research student at Loughborough University, will present his research in Parliament to a panel of expert judges and politicians as one of the finalists in STEM for Britain 2022.
The Parliamentary and Scientific Committee runs the unique, annual event in collaboration with a number of distinguished scientific, learned and professional organisations. It showcases the best of UK scientific research being carried out by early career researchers and is in the only national competition of its kind.
Jan is competing in the Physics session of the competition, which is sponsored and supported by the Institute of Physics; the professional body and learned society for physics in the UK and Ireland.
His poster describes how he is trying to understand the motion of single-cell organisms like bacteria and microalgae.
Biological drugs, including antibodies and proteins, are increasingly used in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of some human diseases; including some tumors, vascular diseases, inflammatory bowel disorders and hepatitis.
Getting them to where they are needed though is challenging. One solution is to have tiny organisms such as bacteria carry them there or to actually make them where they are needed. This biotechnology is already being used but is still relatively new.
Potentially, these microorganisms could also be used to power micro-devices – miniature devices capable of storing and transporting drugs inside the body.
Jan and his team have observed intricate patterns of movement by single cells exploring habitats in the lab. They hope that by better understanding the nature of this movement, and learning how to harness it, we will be able to improve active drug delivery in patients.
Speaking about the competition, Jan said: "I entered the STEM for Britain competition because we recently discovered some mesmerising patterns in the movement of microorganisms.
“Our calculations and experiments could enable the design of microscopic devices that put organisms to use to help our microtechnology. I think these results should be shared with and communicated to the broadest possible audience and the STEM for Britain competition is a great opportunity to do so."
Stephen Metcalfe MP, Chairman of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, added:
“This annual competition is an important date in the parliamentary calendar because it gives MPs an opportunity to see the work of a wide range of the country’s best young researchers. These early career scientists, engineers and mathematicians are the architects of our future, and STEM for Britain is our politicians’ best opportunity to meet them and understand their work.”
Judged by leading academics on Monday 7 March, the gold medalist will receive £1,500, while silver and bronze will receive £1,000 and £750 respectively.
More information on the competition is available here.