I use physics to help develop new medical devices that will hopefully someday revolutionise the medical field.

I use physics to help develop new medical devices that will hopefully someday revolutionise the medical field.

Sarah-Louise Ball

PhD Student, Biophysics

What do you like about your job?

It’s so exciting. I get the opportunity to work not only with physics, but biology too. And sometimes even a little chemistry! Everyday I learn more and more biology and the different ways I can use physics to increase our understanding of it. Not only that, I also get to develop new medical devices that will hopefully someday revolutionise the medical field.

I use the skills and knowledge I've learned from studying physics to understand biological systems. 

Your field is biophysics – what exactly is that?

Biophysics is an interdisciplinary science that incorporates both physics and biology. I use the skills and knowledge I’ve learned from studying physics to understand biological systems. Specifically, I look at developing better methods of quickly diagnosing illnesses such as septicaemia. 

How do you go about doing your research?

Using microscopic sensors called cantilevers, I apply some of the simple principles of physics – reflection, deflection, surface stress – and use them to detect very specific strands of DNA called biomarkers. By seeing if these DNA biomarkers stick to the surface of the cantilevers, and measuring their deflection using lasers and detectors, I can tell if the disease is present or not.

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