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”

Industrial collaborations and problem solving

Reseacher Susana Direito

MSc Science Communication and Public Engagement students Anna Purdue, Hanyue Sun and Jiazhuo Lin visited us recently and interviewed School of Physics and Astronomy Dr Susana Direito about her research and industrial collaborations.


Tell us about your research

I have been working with Edinburgh Complex Fluids Partnership (ECFP) for three years, and have also been a researcher for the National Biofilms Innovation Center (NBIC) for two years. I am a bit different from the other researchers because my main focus is based on industrial projects. Companies will come to us with a problem and we will try to solve it, so it works a bit like a consultancy. Continue reading “Industrial collaborations and problem solving”

Fostering exchange between Nobel Laureates and young scientists

by Dr Carlo Bruno

Photo: Carlo on board a zeppelin along with Nobel Laureate Ada Yonath and meeting attendees.


I had the privilege of being selected to participate in the 69th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Lindau, Germany, together with 39 Nobel laureates in Physics and Chemistry and outstanding young scientists from 89 countries around the world.

The aim of this event was to foster exchange among scientists of different generations, cultures and disciplines.

The meeting, which took off on 29 June, was opened by an impassionate keynote address by Nobel Laureate Brian Schmidt urging the scientists in the audience to be as open as possible with their data, ideas and research, and to aim to make a difference in the world. Continue reading “Fostering exchange between Nobel Laureates and young scientists”