Laura AntonaruStart date: 01-10-2017
Academic department: Life Sciences
Title of research project: Oxygenic photosynthesis with far-red light
Academic supervisors: Professor Bill Rutherford FRS
Native country: Romania

How has the scholarship award enabled you to pursue your ambitions? 

I would not have been able to afford to do a PhD without funding. With the scholarship, I can afford to live comfortably in London, and focus on my research without financial stress. Presumably the work-life balance paid off, as I am already writing a paper.

Why did you choose to study at Imperial? 

During my Masters year I worked in Professor Bill Rutherford's group, on cyanobacteria that photosynthesize in the near-infrared. I find it really fascinating that these bacteria produce oxygen using low-energy light that we cannot see. This expands the limits of photosynthesis as we know it. Aspects of this system have been suggested for improving agriculture, but the trade-offs of the system are still uncertain. This is what I set out to explore.

As I very much enjoyed the subject and the research group during my Masters studies, I wanted to return for my PhD. Not negligible for my student experience are also the clubs and societies at Imperial, which provide a sense of community related to my interests. I also have a soft spot for the location of the South Kensington campus, next door to great museums and minutes from Hyde Park.

What have you been up to on the programme so far? 

I've made exciting discoveries! I developed a protocol that connects ecology with bioinformatics, it worked extremely well, and I am currently writing a paper on the results. I am also looking forward to presenting this work at a conference in Canada. I've started collaborations with specialists in cyanobacteria and related fields from around the world. I also found the annual Schrödinger lecture very inspiring.