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Seminars in Molecular Biology and Genetics, MBGL408
Seminars in Molecular Biology and Genetics, MBGL408
Seminars in Molecular Biology and Genetics, MBGL408

Seminars in Molecular Biology and Genetics, MBGL408

Friday, March 26, 2021 at 12:00

MicrosoftTeams link

‘Superbugs, Material layers, wild wheats, and buzzing bees A multidisciplinary approach to applied biology; hurdles and lessons learnt’

By Dr Zaeema Khan

ZelmaDr Zaeema Khan graduated with her Bachelor’s degree with a double major in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics from University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan (2009). She worked on the antimicrobial resistance of methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus for her graduation project. She has done her masters coursework in Biochemistry from the School of Biological Sciences (SBS), University of the Punjab. She was selected for full overseas PhD scholarship from the Pakistan government and joined the plant genomics group in Molecular Biology, Genetics and Bioengineering Program of Sabanci University for doctorate supervised by Prof. Dr. Hikmet Budak. The main scope of her work was miR7757 overexpression in Brachypodium, functional genomics of evolution of wheat from wheat wild relatives, role of microRNAs in antibiotic stress analysis and plant response to drought.

She has been heavily involved in interdisciplinary research with several collaborators. This project included the real time imaging of developing Brachypodium root growth dynamics under osmotic stress and early seedling gene expression in which she worked with Dr Stuart Lucas. She then delved into a materials science project with Dr. Raghu Mokkapati for the development of a graphene layer for adhesion of human adipose stem cells. She further expanded her skill range by working as a postdoc in the Honey Bee Lab of Dr. Mayack’s Lab on Apis mellifera sugar feeding behaviour, collaborating with Dr Ismail Cakmak from Bursa Uludag University. She also visited Dr Mayack’s collaborator Dr Robert Broadrup in Haverford College (Pennsylavania, USA, July 2019) and engaged in supervising, beekeeping and maintenance of his hives with his lab group.


Multidisciplinary research was always a part of human knowledge and intellect since the beginning of philosophy and science in the ancient Greek world. This continued with the Golden Islamic age with polymaths like Avicenna, and into the Renaissance Period with Leonardo Da Vinci. This seminar presents a modern view to young minds to expand their potential to delve into a holistic approach to knowledge instead of opting for specialization of a single research area. Several projects have been discussed including the hospital acquired antibiotic resistant Staphylococcus aureus. It is of high relevance in the current pandemic situation since longer hospitalizations have considerably increased the risk and incidence of superbug MRSA in Covid-19 patients. Next plant genomics and microscopy are discussed with the model wheat plant Brachypodium distachyon which was utilized for genetic and phenetic studies in a molecular biology and interdisciplinary approach heavily involving biomechatronics. Furthermore, a graphene oxide layer for facilitated adhesion of stem cells was developed taking into consideration the nontoxic requirements for stem cell growth. Mounting and visualization of stem cells was done on biphasic calcium phosphate BCP and hydroxyapatite and visualized under fluorescence for increased adhesion. After several projects in interdisciplinary studies a sharp change in trajectory towards entomology take the audience to another level of research flexibility. The presentation provides insights, hurdles, lessons and benefits of multidisciplinary approach to research to cultivate a broader understanding of scientific research.