Dr Peter Adams

Dr Peter Adams


Peter Adams is a lecturer on a University Academic Fellowship position and part of the Molecular and Nanoscale Physics group (2015-current). This followed a Postdoctoral Research Scholar position at Los Alamos National Laboratory, USA (2012-2014), and PhD and BSc at University of Sheffield, UK (2004-2007; 2007-2011).

PhD opportunities with my group available for applications now! From the biochemistry of Light-Harvesting proteins to the biophysics of lipid bilayers, involving cutting-edge techniques of high-speed high-resolution microscopy, spectroscopy and computer simulations. In no particular order (all have funding opportunitites):

PhD Project 1: “Seeing photosynthesis at the nanoscale: mapping physical properties of light-harvesting biomembranes by high-resolution microscopy and spectroscopy

PhD Project 2: “Biophysics of lipid rafts: understanding the dynamic rearrangements of lipids and membrane proteins into nano-domains

PhD Project 3: “Molecular mechanism of protecting plants from high intensity sunlight: studying Light Harvesting proteins using a combination of advanced electron microscopy and fluorescence methods

PhD Project 4: “Computer simulations and fluorescence spectroscopy to study the dynamics of the plant protein Light Harvesting Complex II


  • Lecturer

Research interests

My research investigates membrane protein and lipid assembly, with a focus on the specialized membranes involved in photosynthesis. I wish to understand, mimic and control the organization of semi-synthetic membranes, inspired by chloroplasts light-harvesting membranes. 

All biological cells, from bacteria to human epithelia, are surrounded by membranes comprised of lipids, proteins and other molecules. Biological cell membranes rely upon complex, hierarchical organization to elicit functional responses. To achieve specialized function some membranes form organized domains of protein proteins and multilamellar stacked arrangements, such as those found in the certain membranes involved in photosynthesis ('light-harvesting' membranes). Synthetic biology often uses genetic engineering or de novo chemical synthesis to develop minimal and/or modular systems of DNA, peptide sequences or organic molecules than can perform novel functions. Instead, in our research, we use purified LH proteins and natural lipids as building blocks to generate model protein/lipid systems. We use these controlled model membranes as a platform to test the factors influencing self-assembly, organisation and function in biological membranes, over multiple scales. We take a multi-disciplinary approach combining aspects of surface chemistry, nano/micro fabrication, protein biochemistry, spectroscopy and various microscopies to fully explore these membranes. Long term goals include: (i) to mimic the natural stacked membrane systems to provide a controlled platform for understanding the assembly and biophysical properties of the membrane protein/lipids, (ii) to design new 3-D patterns of membranes onto solid surfaces with preservation of biological functionality, (iii) to better understand the process of photoprotection in plants (Non-Photochemical Quenching).

Various techniques are used to fully characterize the proteins, membranes and new devices from the micro- to the nanoscale. These include atomic force microscopy, electron microscopy fluorescence microscopy, spectroscopy, DLS, QCM, etc. We are always looking towards the latest, state-of-the-art technologies to enable the next breakthrough. Success in these efforts will represent a major advance in the controlled design of 3-D complex, functional biomaterials.


  • PhD, Biochemistry and Microbiology
  • BSc First Class, Biochemistry and Microbiology

Professional memberships

  • Institute of Physics
  • International Society of Photosynthesis Research
  • British Biophysical Society
  • Biophysical Society (USA)

Research groups and institutes

  • Molecular and Nanoscale Physics
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>