Beth Davenport

Researcher - PhD Candidate

Department: Department of Microbiology & Immunology

Beth has just completed an MSc at Imperial College London in Applied Biosciences and Biotechnology where she came first in her cohort. Here, she specialised in Synthetic Biology; in particular, designing synthetic DNA constructs to be less toxic to cells that harbour them, and in continous evolution systems for evolving proteins for particular functions.

Before her Msc, Beth read Natural Sciences in her undergraduate degree at Durham University, UK. Here, she majored in Molecular Biology and minored in Geography and Climate Science. She has a passion for the intersection between these subjects, specifically in biotechnological applications for mitigating environmental and climate issues. Beth spent her summers working in a Molecular Plant Biology Lab, where she hunted for genes in the crop Barley that could help increase biofuel yields when transferred to other crops.

Beth also used her third year to study abroad in Vancouver at the UBC. It was during this time that she studied under Dr. Steven Hallam, who runs a lab at the interface of Microbial Ecology, Biological Engineering, and Bioinformatics. Since then, she kept in contact with Steven, discussing environmental applications of biological insights that his Lab were identifying. In May 2022, Beth will be starting a Synthetic Microbiology PhD in his Lab.

Her research proposal is to develop a microbial platform for protein display that is safe, recyclable, cheap and easy to use, even in polluted settings. This undertaking will be closely associated with BRIMM interests. Toxic heavy metals polluting water and ecosystems is a side effect of mining. Searching the mining microbiome, like Dr. Hallam’s Lab is aiming to do with BRIMM, may identify proteins that have evolved to bind such toxic metals. Any interesting proteins can be identified and displayed on her platform to recover toxic metals from water samples and the like. The aim of this is to use the platform to bioremediate polluted environments, removing metal contaminants in a sustainable way.

Outside of her work, Beth enjoys painting, hiking, skiing, hummus and spending time with her four dogs (who she will miss terribly when she moves across the pond!). Her aunt lives on Salt Spring island, so she hopes to spend time there hiking amongst the trees.