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  My PhD Work 

I started a four year PhD at the White Rose Doctoral Training Centre (Universities of Leeds and Sheffield) in 2007. My work involves modelling the metabolism of the malaria-causing parasite Plasmodium falciparum and growing the parasite on human blood in the laboratory to test the predictions of my model.

If you just want to read my thesis? Download it here

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So far my biggest achievement in my PhD has been writing a piece of software called MetNetMaker to help non-specialists reconstruct metabolic networks. The software has been published in Bioinformatics Journal and is available free of charge. If you go over to www.metnetmaker.com you can download and try the software or just look at some of the tutorial videos that show it in action.

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The computational part of my research relies on a technique called Flux-Balance Analysis (FBA) and when I started my PhD I found it hard to find a good explanations of the technique. In particular I was disappointed by the quality of the wikipedia page on the subject. Over the last three years I have helped, and been enormously helped by, numerous undergraduates and Masters degree students at the University of Leeds  with my project but realised that they were having the same problems understanding Flux-Balance Analysis as I had when I started. In order to try and speed up people's learning I rewrote and greatly expanded the FBA page on Wikipedia. It is my intention to use large parts of the Wikipedia page in the introduction to my thesis. I quietly hope that my thesis examiner will pull me up for not referencing it properly and accuse me of plagiarism.

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Teaching was always something I felt could be improved when I was at University and it has been a really enjoyable and rewarding part of my PhD. I've tried a lot of new things. I think that setting extremely difficult questions to classes but then providing extremely thorough and clear answers is a great way to move beyond rote learning in classes and have received very positive feedback using this technique. I have used the internet in new ways to deliver answers to problems so that discussion can take up much more of the limited contact time teachers have with students in our Higher Education system.

I passionately believe that teaching in Higher Education in the UK is poor in all but a few cases but I'm also sure that we have all the tools we need to change this. I would love the chance to run a small part of the course, and most importantly manage the assessment, so I could try out some of the ideas I have for improving learning in Higher Education

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I won 2nd prize in the first Annual Postgraduate Researcher Conference at the University of Leeds. You can watch my presentation here.

I passionately believe that teaching in Higher Education in the UK is poor in all but a few cases but I'm also sure that we have all the tools we need to change this. I would love the chance to run a small part of the course, and most importantly manage the assessment, so I could try out some of the ideas I have for improving learning in Higher Education