Hudson Beare Lecture Theatre, King's Buildings, University of Edinburgh
“Bio-enabled” materials are traditional engineering materials that incorporate proteins or cells to add new functionality. His seminar will cover four bio-enabled systems. First, he will discuss the successes and challenges in the use of fungal enzymes in fuel cell cathodes as replacements for platinum-family catalysts. Second, he will demonstrate the surprising ability of thermostable lipases to confer vitrimer-type self-healing capabilities to polyesters. Third, engineering proteins with a graphene-binding “tail” for one-step modification of graphene field-effect transistors. Finally, he will cover his current work on engineering the topology and chemistry of polymer films to trigger the selective germination of spores of airborne pathogens.
Dr Blanford studies and engineers the interactions between conventional materials and biomacromolecules, cells, and spores. He joined the University of Manchester’s School of Materials in 2011. His research group is based in the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, the UK’s first university-based, purpose-built interdisciplinary research institute. His group has integrated biocatalysts, mainly of fungal origin, with ‘conventional’ materials to incorporate enzymes’ evolved functions into self-healing materials and materials for energy conversion. Since 2019, he has worked with colleagues at the University of Manchester, Sony, NIAB, and Rothamsted Research to develop materials for the selective germination of pathogenic fungal spores.
Dr Blanford was awarded his undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, USA in 1995. His doctorate studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Minnesota, USA focused on the electron microscopy of meso- and macroporous materials. He is the author of ~80 publications which have been cited over 8k times cumulatively (ISI h-index = 34). Since 2009, he has served as an editor of the Journal of Materials Science and is currently deputy editor-in-chief. He is also on the editorial board of the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. He chairs the jointly run colloid and interface science interest groups from the Royal Society of Chemistry and the SCI. He has been a member of the British Mycological Society since 2011.