I was educated at King Alfred’s School, Wantage, then at Clare College, Cambridge, where I studied Natural Sciences. I received my D.Phil. in experimental condensed matter physics from Oxford (St. John’s College). I spent four years as a Junior Research Fellow at Christ Church and two as a Stipendiary Lecturer at University College, Oxford, before being appointed to a Tutorial Fellowship at Magdalen in 1992. I am now a Fellow by Special Election. I spent a sabbatical year at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey in 1998-99 where I started to work on DNA self-assembly. I have been awarded an EPSRC Senior Fellowship (2001-06) and a Royal Society-Wolfson Research Merit Award (2012-17).
I lecture on Biological Physics
My background is in solid state physics: I used time-resolved spectroscopy to study hot carrier relaxation in quantum wells, and developed new spectroscopies of correlated states of 2D electrons in the fractional quantum Hall regime. Prof. R. G. Denning (Magdalen) and I developed a method to create microstructured photonic materials by 3D optical lithography: this invention has been taken up by laboratories around the world. My main research group is now interdisciplinary and works on nanofabrication by biomolecular self-assembly. The information storage capacity of DNA is the key to its use in nanofabrication: by designing the base sequences of synthetic oligonucleotides (short strands of DNA) it is possible to control the interactions between them and thus the structures that they form by hybridization (base pairing). My DNA Nanostructures research group in Oxford Physics works with colleagues in biochemistry, physiology, chemistry and computer science departments around the world to develop and exploit our ability to make molecular-scale structures by self-assembly.