Rebecca Casson

Project: Directing biosynthesis of bioactive triterpenes for pharmaceutical applications

Supervisor: Anne Osbourne

I hadn’t considered whether or not to pursue a PhD for the first two years of my undergraduate degree in Chemistry at the University of Leicester. In my third year, I went to the University of Stuttgart on a year abroad, and carried out a research project while I was there. The experience of genuine research caused me to seriously consider studying for a PhD for the first time.
Both my year abroad and my final year project focused on organic synthesis of molecules for eventual biological evaluation. My PhD project, using Nicotiana benthamiana as a transient expression platform for producing small molecules is a good fit for my experience. Working with Maria O’Connell in UEA, I am producing suites of related molecules and biologically testing them with the purpose of constructing structure-activity relationships. Being able to both produce and test candidate molecules gives me a sense of the “bigger picture” of my research, which I feel is valuable for my development as a researcher.

“Growing up in Norfolk gave me an enduring love of the area. The DTP programme here in Norwich combines impactful research and a wide range of training with the environment that’s close to my heart”.