Luis Alejandro Morales Florez

Project title: Altering the flow of electrons through Outer Membranes of Gram-Negative Bacteria

Supervisor: Dr Tom Clarke

I was born and grew up in Tenerife, Spain and come from a Colombian family. For most of my life I attended a British school in Spain but ended up doing the International Baccalaureate (A-level equivalent) in Florida, USA. As I was already in the states, I started my BS in Biochemistry at the University of California, Santa Barbara. However, after a year I decided that I would be better off in the UK. I did my B Sc in Environmental Biotechnology at the University of Plymouth and decided that I wanted to further my education before entering the job market. In 2020 I was accepted onto a DTP PhD at UEA, Norwich, where I investigate outer membrane proteins of the metal-reducing bacteria Shewanella oneidensis, hoping to find changes in electron transfer rates on some of the proteins that I have genetically modified.

I enjoy research in biochemistry and biotechnology, but also have quite an interest in the business and entrepreneurial side of science. Synthetic biology is one of my favourite branches of biology, as it focuses on the compartmentalisation of biochemical pathways and takes a modular approach to building novel pathways composed of subsections from different species. In the future I would like to work in crop improvement, using a synthetic biology approach to design novel crop strains, and then hopefully be able to take them to different markets.

I found about the Norwich Research Park during my undergraduate degree in the University of Plymouth. One of the PhD students went for an intensive training course and was surprised at the level of research that was carried out at the NRP and UEA. He recommended me looking online on the NRP DTP website for opportunities. When I looked on the website, I found many different PhD opportunities in all fields of biology and was excited at the variety. Something that I really like about doing a PhD through the DTP programme is the PIPS placement part of the PhD. Having the opportunity to work in industry for three months during my PhD will definitely put me at an advantage, and I will be able to better understand what I want for my future career plans.