- Course: Chemistry PhD
- PhD title: Material properties of hybrid lipid and polymer vesicles and incorporation of membrane
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rashmi-seneviratne-a42a6784/
Rashmi Seneviratne is studying for a PhD in the School of Chemistry, and her main supervisor is Dr Paul Beales who leads the Beales Research Group. Through her research, Rashmi hopes to enhance the properties of self-assembled vesicles for use in bionanotechnology applications such as drug delivery, micro-reactors or sensors.
Using bionanotechnology for medical applications
The main aim of Rashmi’s project is to characterise and understand the properties of hybrid lipid-polymer membranes by combining a range of methods, from scattering to microscopy and spectroscopy techniques.
“While lipid and polymer membranes have been used in the past for these purposes, they each have disadvantages: liposomes lack mechanical stability and toughness whereas polymersomes are often not biocompatible,” Rashmi explained. “With the hybrid lipid/ and polymer membranes I am investigating, the more advantageous aspects of each material will be combined, and so the properties of the membrane can be tuned to suit the application.”
She continued: “I’ve combined cryo-electron tomography with small-angle x-ray scattering to refine a model for a hybrid membrane structure, while my spectroscopic work has allowed me to determine the proton permeability of these membranes.
“My more recent work has explored the encapsulation and release from hybrid vesicles during sterilisation, storage and transport procedures.”
I’ve combined cryo-electron tomography with small-angle x-ray scattering to refine a model for a hybrid membrane structure, while my spectroscopic work has allowed me to determine the proton permeability of these membranes.
Conducting multidisciplinary research means having supervisors from different faculties and schools across campus. Rashmi is currently doing her PhD under the supervision of her main supervisor Dr Paul Beales in the School of Chemistry, but she is also co-supervised by Professor Lars Jeuken from the Faculty of Biological Sciences and Professor Michael Rappolt from Food Science and Nutrition.
Rashmi said: “All three research groups that I work with have interests that involve membranes and their applications, which align with my project aims. With the combined knowledge, support and guidance from all three supervisors, I hope to characterise and understand my hybrid lipid-polymer vesicles.”
With the combined knowledge, support and guidance from all three supervisors, I hope to characterise and understand my hybrid lipid-polymer vesicles.
She continued: “The Beales lab studies self-assembling systems, such as membranes, to develop new materials like biomimetic membranes for use in diagnostic or drug delivery applications.
“The Jeuken lab is interested in improving the reconstitution environment of proteins and enzymes to extend the lifetime of enzymes inserted into the membrane while the Rappolt group research specialises in investigating the structure, shape and flexibility of lipid membranes through scattering techniques.”
Choosing a PhD
Rashmi is part of the Soft Matter and Functional Intercaces Centre for Doctoral Training (SOFI CDT), which is a collaboration between Durham University, University of Leeds and University of Edinburgh.
She added: “After 6 months training on a variety of soft matter topics across the 3 different universities with other PhD students in my cohort, I chose to do my PhD with the Beales group at the University of Leeds from a list of potential projects provided by the SOFI CDT.”
Find out more
Visit our research degrees pages to learn more about our postgraduate community.