PhD Positions

Click here for current PhD opportunities in PHA. But feel free to email me to discuss projects outside these areas and alternative sources of funding.

Dr. Round’s work has two themes, both rooted in the use of Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) to solve complex problems in biomacromolecular science at the single molecule scale. His group works closely with Patrick Gunning and Andrew Kirby of the SPM group at IFR (

The first theme is the development of an exciting new polymer sequencing tool, exploiting the properties of rotaxane complexes in order to form a sliding contact between molecule and transducer. For the first time, this will provide explicit information on the spatial relationships between multiple events observed in a single molecule pulling or unzipping experiments. The technique is finding applications in the fields of glycan epitope mapping and polymer sequencing. An introduction to this new technique is available here. Dr. Kate Bowman is the PDRA working on this BBSRC-funded project.

The second theme is unravelling the often complex and heterogeneous macromolecular systems formed by polysaccharides and glycoproteins. Key examples are the plant cell wall polysaccharide pectin and the mucin glycoproteins that make up the mucus barrier protecting the gastrointestinal, respiratory, ocular and cervicovaginal epithelia. Examples of how AFM has been key to unravelling details of the assembly, function and turnover of these systems are described here.

Other ongoing projects include Ben Rackham’s PhD project, an exploration of the mechanisms behind the bisintercalation of novel synthetic anticancer agents into DNA, and combining force spectroscopy with electrochemistry to study the electromechanical behaviour of redox proteins.

Dr. Round’s lab is equipped with a state of the art AFM, a JPK Nanowizard 3, capable of conventional and quantitative imaging and force spectroscopy in air and fluids, and a second AFM (Veeco/Bruker CP-II) for routine examination of samples in air.

Collaborators on NRP include at UEA: Mark Searcey (PHA) on drug bisintercalation; Julea Butt (CHE/BIO) on electron transfer in proteins; and Andrew Mayes (CHE) on polymer conjugation; at IFR: Patrick Gunning and Andrew Kirby in the SPM group; and Alan Mackie, Neil Rigby, Adam Macierzanka on the structure of mucin. External collaborators include Gudmund Skjåk-Bræk and Bjorn-Torge Stokke at NTNU, Trondheim, Norway on mapping and sequencing alginates. He is always happy to discuss how AFM methods can be applied to other exciting fields.

Dr. Round joined UEA in 2007 as an RCUK Academic Fellow in Pharmaceutical Nanosciences. His previous role was as Core Project postdoc for the IRC in Nanotechnology in the Physics department at the University of Bristol, following a postdoc at City University, New York. His PhD was awarded by UEA in 1999 and was carried out at the Institute of Food Research.

Selected Publications

Lamellar Structures of MUC2-Rich Mucin: A Potential Role in Governing the Barrier and Lubricating Functions of Intestinal Mucus
Round, AN, Rigby, NM, Garcia de la Torre, A, Macierzanka, A, Mills, ENC and Mackie, AR
Biomacromolecules, 2012, 13 (10). pp. 3253-3261. ISSN 1526-4602
DOI: 10.1021/bm301024x

A new view of pectin structure revealed by acid hydrolysis and atomic force microscopy
Round AN; Rigby NM; MacDougall AJ; Morris VJ
Carbohydrate Research 2010, 345, 487
DOI: 10.1016/j.carres.2009.12.019
(evaluated by Faculty of 1000: Rose J: "Deciphering the structures of plant cell wall polymers and the ways in which they interact..." of: [Round AN et al. A new view of pectin structure revealed by acid hydrolysis and atomic force microscopy. Carbohydr Res.2010 Feb 26; 345(4):487-97;
DOI: 10.1016/j.carres.2009.12.019]. Faculty of 1000, 08 Feb 2010.

Mapping the positions of beads on a string: dethreading rotaxanes by molecular force spectroscopy
Dunlop A; Wattoom J; Hasan EA; Cosgrove T; Round AN
Nanotechnology 2008, 19, 345706
DOI: 10.1088/0957-4484/19/34/345706

Nanoscale thin film ordering produced by channel formation in the inclusion complex of alpha-cyclodextrin with a polyurethane composed of polyethylene oxide and hexamethylene
Hasan EA; Cosgrove T; Round AN
Macromolecules 2008, 41, 1393
DOI: 10.1021/ma071484n

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