Professor Mark Viant of the School of Biosciences describes, in 60 seconds, his research in the area of measuring environmental stress by studying animals at the molecular level.
My name is Mark Viant and I’m a professor in the School of Biosciences where I work at the intersection of chemistry, biology and computer science.
My main interests are in understating how animals respond to environmental stress, such as pollution and climate change. Now what’s unique about my research is how we actually measure the stress. We study animals at the molecular level specifically to measure their metabolites, which are chemicals like fats and sugars. But the really clever bit is that we don’t just measure one metabolite; instead we measure thousands of these metabolites extremely rapidly and this approach is called metabolomics.
Why are we doing this? Well first, as a scientist, I’m extremely excited about understanding mechanisms by which animals respond to pollution. But there’s a second very important practical aim. We want to discover which molecules can act as bio-markers to diagnose different types of pollution and ultimately we aim to revolutionise the way in which regulators, such as the Environment Agency, can quantify the health of our environment.
Professor Mark Viant's profile