Category: Uncategorized

Happy New Year & Spring Clean

Hey all,

I have been very busy with research and presenting my work so apologies for not updating earlier. Some of the events I have done over the past few months have been very fun especially meeting the Duke of Kent who visited to know more about Synbio, EPSRC Healthcare presentation and a big lab move from Physics to Life Science which is still in progress.

The Duke of Kent visit was very interesting, not only presenting my work to the royal highness but to seeing the many other aspects of synbio around the university presented. The setup was similar to pop-up demonstrations stations which had around 10 minutes. I present my work on swarming Nanomedicine and a little part of swarm robotics. More information can be found here:

The EPSRC Healthcare day was very interesting with different engineering projects with the combined focus towards beneficial medical applications. Where my research focuses highly on the medical field from using a chip to monitor nanoparticle swarm behaviors, other topics ranged from acoustic manipulation of the environment to statical approaches to cancer gene expression. Even working in the same department I am always surprised by the diversity of projects and the application to the medical field.

The big lab move comes after a few months of planning but will now be official lab desk space for me to work compared to hot desking and will hopefully mean the possibility of running and producing more materials for my experiements. It has been a long time coming.


Also I am nearing the point of producing a paper but I am having small issues with the synthesis of the various parts to carry out the experiments such as the hydrogel preparation, nanoparticles and microparticles being used. It is frustrating knowing how close I am to having the data and how small parts interfere but has developed my work methodology to avoid these situations in the future. Hopefully my next post will be a summary of the publication process and the rush to fit some more exciting work before the end of my funding *fingers crossed*.

As always, thanks for reading.

PhD Update – 30 Months

Funded by EPSRC at the University of Bristol; Associated with Bristol Robotics Lab, University of the West of England.


The Great Balancing Act

Hey all,

I haven’t blogged for quite a while and simply it’s because I have so many other commitments at the moment, which have been very fun but equally as tiring.

Over the summer period, I have been doing many outreach events in and around Bristol such as Pint of Science, @Bristol events and aiding my supervisor in her radio interviews. I really enjoy the engagement, as you have probably gathered, with many individuals which can be both challenging and keeps you think on your feet.

Another commitment I have taken up is the management of an SLA (sterolithography) 3D printer, Formlabs Form 2 printer. The 3D printer is fantastic for microfluidic but owning a 3D printer means accepting odd and interesting 3D printing jobs, many jobs aimed at props for outreach. However, having a printer that can print all sorts of things doesn’t necessarily mean it should due to the costs involved using resins where the cheaper FDM (Fused deposition modeling) would be more appropriate. Additionally the failed prints can eat up a lot of time which could be better spent on research. Please check my twitter for some of the 3D prints I have done!

Also, we had a big lab move from Engineering and Physics labs to the new Synbio lab, Biocompute Lab in the Life Science Building. This is currently in progress but hopefully will be ready by the beginning of October which I am very excited about! Also, the 3D printer is already located in the lab so it’ll be fantastic to have everything under one roof which saves me from running around between all the departments I work in.

Finally, I have my research still ongoing (last but not least!). Unfortunately it is not progressing as fast as I would like and sometimes feels over-shadowed by all the other commitments lately. However, I have the methodology in place and a systematic plan of different reagents to attempt which is now a tick-box list until I have the desired test environment in my diffusive microfluidic device.

As always, thanks for reading!

PhD Update – 23 Months

Funded by EPSRC at the University of Bristol; Associated with Bristol Robotics Lab, University of the West of England.

Results – Bristol Science Film Festival

The award ceremony  for the Bristol Science Film Festival was tonight, I was fortunate enough to be shortlisted for the local category which was a great honour. There was many fantastic videos, from all areas of Science such as biology, chemistry, maths and engineering.

Unfortunately I did not win but I had fantastic time watching the other entries and learning so much about the other disciplines. I urge everyone to watch the entries which were all fantastic. I will update when the shortlisted videos are made available on the BSA (British Science Association) website.

Thanks to everyone as watched my video, I am hoping to make more very soon. Stay tuned!

In other news my research has started to come together and I am very excited for the potential future!! Again, I will update with more when I have the time. To reference back to my previous blog post almost 4 months ago, it’s the last 5% which can take the same time or longer than the other 95% of the project.

As always, thanks for reading!

PhD Update – 17 Months

Funded by EPSRC at the University of Bristol; Associated with Bristol Robotics Lab, University of the West of England.

Bristol Science Film Festival

A few weeks ago I made an entry into the Bristol Science Film Festival (BSFF), “What is Nanomedicine?”.

What surprised me is the amount of work required to produce a video or a film. The amount of work can be split into three different categories:

  • Story – What is your film about?
  • Film – The type of genre (audience) & filming (animation &/or  real-life filmatography)
  • Audio – Clear and precise

The story is very important to what you want to tell and gives you the layout for the rest of the film. This makes it easier to plan and design sections saving time in the long run when attempting to link sections together. Also, the story is dependent on the audience as well, making the story short and sweet but keeping all the important you want to convey.

The film genre can effect the type of content you want to show. For example, a romance film would not have a horror scene. This is similar to science where you need to keep the content at a level one can understand, but not going into Sci-Fi just to attact the audiences. Additionally, the choice between animation or real-life is as important. I prefer a mix between both where the audience feels as though they know the speaker but uses animations for visual examples. I remember when I was animating one section of the film, it took round 10 hours to edit 1 minute of animation primarily due to the learning curve associated using film making packages.

This brings me onto an important concept, choosing the correct software for you to use. This is down to the film markers perspective which could be based on money and learning curve. For myself, I am fortunate enough to have access to the Adobe Creative Cloud, specifically Adobe After Effects, Premiere Pro, Photoshop and Illustrator. This did not take too long to understand and learn given the amount of videos available with basic tutorials.

One of the most overlooked sections of a film is the audio. Without clear and precise audio, the user may lose interest fast. This is comparable to a TV show cutting the audio half way through a showing, the audience may zone out and lose attention as audio and visual stimuli are very important in our day to day lives.

All in all, video is editing is a fantastic tool for communication and one I want to follow up with more videos as it is an ever growing outreach platform.

What is Nanomedicine? from Matthew Hockley on Vimeo.


PhD Update – 17 Months

Funded by EPSRC at the University of Bristol; Associated with Bristol Robotics Lab, University of the West of England.


Currently I’ve been very busy with various tasks and my research but over the past few weeks I have participated in a few outreach events.

One thing which many researchers overlook is outreach and communication of their own research. It is very important to explain your research to a wide range of different audiences. Over the past few weeks I have presented kilobots at a future science event in Bristol, to potential engineering maths undergraduate students as well as Thymios to a primary school.

Each event brought different challenges and questions. For example, I would not be talking the same to knowledgeable researchers, as I talk to children in a primary school. This really practises your skills to explain a concept in simpler language as well as more complex language without diluting the meaning of a concept. Also, I really enjoy the questions and ideas generated by talking to the public as it gives a new perspective and ideas for my project and helps me try something new.

I know when I was younger, one of my fondest memories was designing electronic devices as well as understanding how different things work and interacted. I do feel it is a shame that science is not more main stream compared to some of the day time and evening entertainment on TV.

At least, as a researcher, I am attempting to inspire the public. Here are some images from my school outreach!

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PhD Update – 16 months.

Funded by EPSRC at the University of Bristol; Associated with Bristol Robotics Lab, University of the West of England.

One Uni Year Later

I have found it very strange coming to the realisation that it has almost been one university year and it makes me think about to my experiences of undergraduate study with all the modules and hard work and how it now compares to doing full-time research.

At first glance it does not seem that I have accomplished much during what feels like a short time since I have graduated. Although, looking at all of the experiences and skills I have learnt in these past few months I can’t help but be amazed that I now have skills using and preparing microfluidic devices, MatLab for several image analysis techniques, coding Kilobots as well as the use of simulation software for these various techniques.

A lot of these skills I wouldn’t have imagined learning or using such a wide variety of programs since a lot of the data I had previous collected is displayed in chronological data points with varying values. With these values, a lot of the data can be displayed in a graph using Excel. Given what the data I am trying to display requires density/intensity histogram maps, using excel to run these tasks may be out of reach or difficult to achieve so learning how to use MatLab has saved time and increased my productivity.

Although learning skills and improving methodology is important, I feel a greater skill I have learnt over this time is the people who you meet, teach and collaborate with to reach a shared goal. With greater communications now more than ever, I feel these connections where ever and who ever can only be a great benefit and this PhD has given me the best opportunity to meet these researchers and to talk at the same level, the same language. As well as learning these different skills, I feel I can communicate across engineering to biomedical sciences understanding the benefits and limitations of each process such as the simulation compared to the In Vitro and In Vivo studies.


PhD Update – 10 months.

Funded by EPSRC at the University of Bristol; Associated with Bristol Robotics Lab, University of the West of England.

New Year, New ideas

The first three months of my PhD have passed by relatively quickly, looking back it’s hard to believe how time has flown! The Christmas break has given me time to relax as well as to focus and be refreshed; Looking back at my work as well as towards the future to plan my next steps and consider new ideas.

As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, most of the work up to now has been literature reviews on the various aspects of nanomedicine such as the various materials used for nanoparticles which affect and define a variety of applications. There are daily breakthroughs in nanomedicine, similar to many other fields of research, so my work is never done. Research is only half the job, the other half is producing new novel work.

This novel work can take many forms but mine is focused in the wet lab space, playing around with nanoparticles and producing useful. Most of the focus at the moment is on the ground work but I’m using this period of time to plan experiments and work out possible complications (almost the only guarantee in research). Also, I am working in the Bristol Robotics Lab, where I have the opportunity for dry lab experience programming robots.

This year, I am hoping to produce useful information for the computer models as well as improve the current microfluidic devices I have designed which I will begin testing soon. Also I am looking at attending conferences which will give me new directions to take my research.

PhD Update – 3 months.

Funded by EPSRC at the University of Bristol; Associated with Bristol Robotics Lab, University of the West of England.