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International Year of Light - Rachel Fisher

Rachel Fisher

Tell us about your PhD project

I am a member of the Jones Group where we work on the application and development of fluorescence spectroscopic techniques.  

My research involves using fluorescent nucleic base analogues to examine DNA nanostructure of biological or technological significance. The natural DNA bases are non-fluorescent.  Therefore, in order to use powerful fluorescence techniques to study the structure, dynamics and interactions of DNA, suitable highly fluorescent molecules must be used.  These must significantly resemble natural bases so as not to interfere with the natural state of DNA.

Why is light important to your research?

Light is integral to my research! My research is based upon fluorescent molecules. These molecules are only useful because they absorb light of one wavelength and then emit light of a longer wavelength.

Using fluorescent nucleic base analogues to examine DNA nanostructure of biological or technological significance.

Describe your average day of PhD work here in the School of Chemistry

Almost every day begins in the same way: a cup of coffee while checking emails. From then on it very much depends which aspect of my project I???m working on.

Currently, a typical day would involve running computational calculations and analysing results from the day before. At other times my day will involve a lot of experimental work, making solutions, measuring UV-vis absorption, collecting excitation and emission spectra or heading to COSMIC to collect fluorescence lifetime data. 

What do you enjoy doing when you are not at work?

When I???m not in the lab I like to be outside as much as possible. I enjoy hiking, climbing and camping as well as volunteering for an environmental organisation that works with young people to conserve green spaces.

What's your favourite chemical reaction?

My favourite chemical reaction is the reaction that occurs inside bioluminescent organisms. My favourite example of this reaction is dinoflagellate plankton, they cause oceans to glow or sparkle at night!

The oxidation of luciferin, a reaction that require the catalyst luciferase.

The reaction involves the oxidation of luciferin, a reaction that requires the catalyst luciferase.