Capital Award: Quantification for frontier engineering

Lead Research Organisation: Newcastle University
Department Name: Sch of Natural & Environmental Sciences


Biological Systems Science and Engineering is an exciting new frontier.

It spans Synthetic Biology where engineering principles are applied at the molecular and cellular level, to design new metabolic pathways, materials and devices, through to management of large scale biological systems such as wastewater treatments systems which underpin modern societies.

Across this massive range of scales highly precise quantitative measurement is fundamental - to engineer reliably, it is essential to be able to measure what is being engineered.

The greater the precision of the measurement, the more effective and efficient will be the engineered product. This award will be used to purchase high sensitivity, high precision measurement systems that will allow quantification of nucleic acids in synthetic, smart biological materials and cells as well as quantifying key organisms that drive important processes (e.g. pollutant removal) in large scale biological treatments. Application of the equipment will contribute to the development of more reliable, efficient and sustainable new materials and processes and improve the efficiency of large scale biological treatment systems leading to more effective control of pollutants and reduce the energy requirements of the treatments systems.

Planned Impact

1. The provision of a world class laboratory, by the co-location of the equipment and its user base in the same facility, allowing the intensification of research in this rapidly expanding area.
2. Generation of higher quality data feeding into higher quality outputs, that will be published in higher impact journals. This is vital for ECR career development. All publications will be made Open Access at the point of publication to maximise the potential reach of the impact.
3. The acceleration of ECR career development due to this preferential access to the valuable new resources provided by this grant and the accompanying increase in the rapid accumulation of higher quality data, giving a boost to ECR research momentum at this critical point in their careers.
4. Provision of "collision" opportunities with researchers in different areas to enhance collaborative research opportunities and development of funding bids.
5. The development of a new User Group within the institution, that will facilitate the formation of new Inter-disciplinary research projects and programmes as a result of a cross-university user base.
6. Publication of more co-authored cross disciplinary outputs as a result of enhanced contact with more senior users via the equipment User Group
7. Enhanced capacity for quantitative investigation problems in engineered biological systems that have hitherto been problematic
8. Increase throughput freeing up time for data analysis and paper/proposal preparation.
9. Offer opportunities for industry engagement, initially driven by the ability to analyse large numbers of difficult samples, and leading to collaborative interactions between ECRs and industry partners


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