The physics of biofilms and ice cream

Cait Macphee

MSc Science Communication and Public Engagement students Anna Purdue, Hanyue Sun and Jiazhuo Lin  interviewed School of Physics and Astronomy researcher Prof Cait MacPhee.


Tell us about your research. How does it link to ice cream?

We are studying a biofilm formed by a very common microbe called Bacillus subtilis. We’re interested in the fact that it’s basically waterproof. We discovered the protein that makes this biofilm water repellent, and it does this by going to an interface between liquid and air and forming a film. Ice cream contains air bubbles which make it lighter and easier to scoop.  It also contains oil (fat) and ice crystals. The protein we found goes to the surface of the ice crystals, the surface of the air bubbles and the surface of the oil droplets and stabilises all of them. By doing this you can slow the melting down of the ice cream! Continue reading “The physics of biofilms and ice cream”

Join Jessie as she delves into the work of academics

Photo of Jessie Hammond beside statue

Not content with just developing her academic knowledge, year 3 MPhys Physics student Jessie Hammond wanted to learn about the research undertaken by her lecturers and others in the field of science.

‘Delving Into Academics’ is a podcast where researchers from physics, chemistry and biology talk about what they are researching, and how they came to be in academia.

Continue reading “Join Jessie as she delves into the work of academics”

Reflections on the MSc in Particle & Nuclear Physics

Student Emily Pender

As Emily Pender starts her PhD, she reflects on why she applied to study the MSc in Particle and Nuclear Physics, and how this degree has helped prepare her for her research project.


I chose to apply to Edinburgh because of its reputation as both an excellent University and because of the developments following the discovery of the Higgs Boson in 2012. I was enrolled on an integrated Masters degree (combined Masters and Bachelors degree) at my previous University, but as I knew I wanted to end up specialising in particle physics, I thought it would be more beneficial to undertake the Masters in Particle and Nuclear Physics at the University of Edinburgh than continue studying a generalised physics degree. Continue reading “Reflections on the MSc in Particle & Nuclear Physics”