Marsden funding boosts molecular motors research

4 November 2014

Scion scientist Katharine Challis has been awarded a Marsden Fast Start grant to explore how tiny molecular motors use energy.

Dr Challis, a theoretical physicist working in Scion’s bioenergy and biofuels team, says that the ‘motors’ within biological systems (including cells) are far more efficient than industrial processes and finding out how these nano-motors work may have major implications for the future of bioenergy.

“We live and move because the molecular motors in our cells convert energy from one form to another. The fascinating thing is that these nanoscale motors operate very differently from large-scale motors found in your car or in industrial processes, and they are amazingly efficient. We want to know how their unrivalled efficiencies are achieved,” said Dr Challlis. 

The $300,000 grant will be used by Dr Challis to develop a new comprehensive and universal theory especially for nanoscale molecular motors. She will be working with Dr Michael Jack from the University of Otago, a former Scion colleague. Both wrote papers on the topic published by the American Physical Society last year.

See also Molecular motors drive energy technologies