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Manchester Institute of Biotechnology
131 Princess Street
M1 7DN
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)161 306 8915
Fax: +44 (0)161 306 5201

Group members

Chris Blanford

Christopher Blanford at Jökulsárlón in IcelandI’m the group’s leader and an American import to the University. My research has focused on the areas where multiple traditional scientific disciplines overlap, starting with my doctoral work at the University of Minnesota. There I worked with Andreas Stein and Barry Carter on the electron microscopy of ordered porous materials. A connection between photonic crystals and inverse opals (or 3DOM materials, as we prefer to call them) led me to the University of Oxford where I held a post-doc under the supervision of Bob Denning. This was followed by an appointment in Fraser Armstrong’s group.

I held a Career Acceleration Fellowship from the EPSRC from July 2008 to July 2013 so I could continue my work at the interface between chemistry, materials science and biochemistry. In January 2011, I moved to a position at the University of Manchester’s School of Materials. I also serve as an editor for the Journal of Materials Science, and on the editorial board of the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

Kulveer Singh

Kulveer Singh photoHey! I started my D.Phil. at the University of Oxford in the newly formed Blanford group after graduating with an MSc in Medicinal Chemistry at UCL. Originally I’m from a little place called Willenhall in the midlands, and now that our group has moved to Manchester, you can say I’m pretty well travelled!

My interest in electrochemistry stems from my final year at UCL where I carried out a masters research project under the guidance of Dr Katherine Holt. My background is in organic chemistry so I am focusing on adhering ‘blue’ multicopper oxidases to the surface of gold electrodes using different surface chemistries. I’ve been using the Electrochemical Quartz Crystal Microbalance (E-QCM) to understand how these bound enzymes change shape and how this affects their activity and stability over time. I’m also using EPR and AFM to map out the changes in conformation the enzyme undergoes and how this affects binding and coupling of spins of the copper atoms. I’ve also flown out to Sweden recently to carry out some research on a new technique used to look at the capacitance changes upon enzyme adsorption to gold.

Outside of the lab I play a lot of sport including squash, cricket, 11-a-side and 5-a-side football and I’ve recently taken up Taekwondo. I’m also a big F1 fan and I’m a follower of the mighty Aston Villa and try to go to as many home matches as I can! Up the Villa! I also really enjoy travelling and the Big Apple (New York) is next on my list of places to go!

Trevor McArdle

Trevor McArdle photoGreetings! I joined the Blanford group from April 2011 after a six-month taught course on the NowNano DTC in Manchester in a joint project with Prof. Robert Dryfe in Chemistry and Dr Ian Kinloch in Materials. I gained my M.Chem. from Newcastle University in 2009 after spending an industrial placement year working for Nalco Energy Services, a chemical additive company based within an oil refinery. After graduating I spent almost a year working for Thomas Swan producing commercial carbon nanotubes before a little travelling in southeast Asia.

My interests lie around low dimensional carbon synthesis for use as electrode materials in bioelectocatalysis for use in fuel cells. This supports one of my Ph.D. aims, which is to develop a fully working fuel cell with the ability to power a small device.

I am from Newcastle and have followed the football team from birth. I enjoy weekends away visiting home and friends. I find living in Manchester extremely fun and looking forward to my next three years here.

Tom McNamara

Tom McNamara photoHi, I started my PhD in September 2012; it encompasses the study of graphene and enzymes. This is an interdisciplinary project which aims to combine the best features of both biological and artificial materials. For example, enzymes can carry out reactions at ambient conditions in a single solution which take chemists many steps, using harsh reaction conditions to achieve. On the materials side, graphene has interesting thermoelectric, electric and optical properties. Two interesting properties include being over 300 times stronger than steel and being a million times more conductive than copper. This is why the combination of these two materials interests me so much.

I earned my Masters in Chemistry from the University of Oxford in 2010. I first worked with Dr Blanford during my fourth-year project in which I investigated the structure function relationship of enzymes. It was during this project that I gained my first two publications which concerned the X-ray crystallography of bilirubin oxidase.

My non-academic interests include jiu jitsu, rock climbing, skiing, tombstoning, photography, etc. I have also competed for the University of Manchester in white water kayaking and formation skydiving and I can't wait (if everything goes to plan) to be able to say ‘Trust me … I’m a doctor!’ whilst standing at the edge of a precipice or something equally epic.

Philippa Shellard


Rebecca Davey

Rebecca Davey photoHello! I joined the Blanford group in April 2014 as a Ph.D. student through the NoWNano DTC, where students complete a six-month taught component across topics in nanoscience before starting a project. With a background in physics and in particular graphene, here I’ll be using methods such as EPR to look at interactions between nanoparticles and proteins.

Originally from the south coast, I moved to Manchester in 2009 to study physics and in 2013 graduated with my M.Phys. During my degree I spent a year studying in Berlin through the ERASMUS exchange program and whilst there spent some time on Raman spectroscopy of defective graphene with Dr Cinzia Casiraghi’s group. In my final year I used computational methods from stochastic physics to explore an evolutionary model of language change.

My activities and interests outside of science include reading books (and occasionally finishing them), knitting, and trying to learn new languages. I sometimes go roller skating, and I always spend too much money on nice food.

Yaojiang ‘John’ Du


Yaojie ‘Eric’ Lei



Name Role Destination or current job
Warren Berchie Final-year project student, B.Sc. Biomedical Materials Science2013–2014  
Adam McDermott Final-year project student, B.Sc. Biomedical Materials Science2013–2014  
Abdul Miah Final-year project student, B.Sc. Biomedical Materials Science2013–2014  
Mirja Hartmann PDRA 2013–2014 Head of Business Unit Market Development for Chemie-Cluster Bayern
Hope Adamson Post-graduate researcher 2012–2013 Ph.D. candidate with Alison Parkin, University of York
Frances Booth Final-year project student, B.Sc. Biomedical Materials Science2012–2013  
Ali Jabran Final-year project student, B.Sc. Biomedical Materials Science2012–2013 Ph.D. candidate with Dr Lei Ren
Rebecca Docherty PDRA 2011–2012 Business Manager at Sheffield Healthcare Gateway
Habiba Begum M.Res. Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine 2011–2012  
Ge Wang M.Sc. Advanced Engineering Materials 2011–2012 PhD with Dr. David Hall
Mingwei Zhang M.Eng. Materials Science and Engineering 2011–
expected completion 2013
Final-year project with Prof. Brian Derby
Mohamed-Deeq Abdi Final-year project student, B.Sc. Biomedical Materials Science2011–2012  
Christobel Gondwe Final-year project student, B.Sc. Biomedical Materials Science2011–2012  
Dr James A. Cracknell PDRA 2010–2011 Trainee patent attorney at J A Kemp
Patricia R. Sullivan M.Chem. 2010 Teacher in London