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Juanita Francis

Division of Pure and Applied Biochemistry

About me

Currently, I am a Doctoral student at the Division of Pure and Applied Biochemistry at Lund University. I hold a bachelor’s degree in Microbiology-Biotechnology from Canada. In 2017, I moved to Sweden to advance my knowledge within the field of biotechnology where I completed my master’s degree at Lund University in 2019.

My experience and interest heavily focus on recombinant systems and protein production for the creation of biomaterials, medicinal and healthy food products in a sustainable manner.

About my research

My research project is influenced by 2 major funding bodies: SwedNess, providing training in neutron scattering and Agenda 2030, striving to achieve 17 sustainable development goals for a better future for all.

Silk is a sustainable, versatile material and a suitable alternative to currently less efficient processed polymer materials, i.e., high density polyethylene. However, there is a limited understanding of the silk assembly process. My research focuses on elucidating the chemical and structural complexities and understanding the molecular basis involved in the fibril/fiber assembly of spider/silkworm silks. We aim to develop a technology that controls silk protein’s fibrinogenesis, storage and stability.

To do so we will develop a recombinant silk protein system using green chemistry techniques. By subjecting the recombinant silk to a progressing acidification method while undergoing a multimodal analysis tool called NUrF (Neutron small-angle scattering (SANS), UV-vis, Raman and Fluorescence) one can observe structure and molecular dynamics during fibrinogenesis at various length scales. This approach will provide a unique understanding of the necessary steps needed to form spider silk for future sustainable polymer processing and storage.