My name is Juan (call me Joanna if you like which is easier to pronounce and less confusing). I came to Oxford in 2009 for a doctorate degree in the Department of Zoology with a material sciences background. I am a scholar of China – University of Oxford Scholarship and I am working with the Oxford Silk Group on understanding the structure-properties relations of silks.
My role in Oxford Silk Group is as a polymer scientist and expert in Dynamic Mechanical Thermal Analysis (DMTA). With the group focusing on unravelling the secrets of silks and silk spinning, my research is focussed on the study of solid silk filaments using DMTA. This technique (probably the most important and informative polymer characterisation tool) allows me to deduce the molecular structures of silks from the dynamic mechanical properties measurements. The methodology I developed for testing silks and other synthetic fibres includes quasi-static tensile test, static-dynamic test, creep test, and dynamic temperature test.
My research has now yielded three papers on:
Spider Silk Supercontraction
Silks Cope with Stress
Dynamic Thermal Mechanical Properties of Native Silks
Prior to my studies at Oxford, I did my undergraduate degree in Materials Science and Engineering at Tianjin University (previously Peiyang University) in Tianjin, which is the second largest city in northern China and full of folk culture. The last two years of my university were very intense with my training in polymer science and engineering. However, I did not feel satisfied at the end of my studies, and as the wonderful world of polymers opened up more, I became further fascinated. I went on to a Master’s Degree at Fudan University in Shanghai.
My subject of research in the Biomacromolecules Group at Fudan University was to understand the structure and properties of a globular plant seed protein (soy protein). Together with my senior colleague in Fudan, I developed a method of dissolving soy protein in an aqueous solution. This work formed the basis of later techniques on making soy protein scaffolds and soy protein-based biopolymer electro-sensitive hydrogels. I was very interested in the morphological-mechanical property relationships of soy protein scaffolds and this interest led me to my first English publication, which I am still proud of for its clarity and comprehensiveness.
I am a member of the Materials Research Society (MRS) of United States and German Society for Materials Science (DGM). I have also reviewed papers for polymer or biomacromolecules journals such as International Journal of Biomacromolecules.
In my spare time (I do have spare time unlike a crazy scientist) I go out to the countryside for a day walk, to breathe the fresh air and to enjoy the English landscapes, which are mostly flat around Oxford, but with some sparse trees and stylish countryside houses the endless green land becomes incredibly pleasant. I am a very active member of the Oxford University Walking Club.