Robert Oppenheimer

Personal photo - Robert Oppenheimer

Robert Oppenheimer

Doctoral Student at the Doctoral Training Centre

Rex Richards Building, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QU


        Curriculum Vitae


I love learning about flocks of birds, schools of fish, colonies of ants, and so on, where a coherent and dynamic pattern emerges out of many interacting parts. I wonder where there are similarities between self-organisation on the scale of molecular interactions and human civilisation. I hope that Synthetic Biology, and the attempt to re-create these kinds of systems from the bottom-up, will teach us how self-organisation works in nature, while also creating new technologies.

Current Work

Through the DTC I undertook two 11-week projects before choosing my PhD project. Working with Prof. Sweetlove in Plant Sciences, we took inspiration from protein-coated virus capsids to explore metabolite channelling between colocalised proteins. Working with Prof. Turberfield in Physics, I designed a new architecture for DNA-templated chemical synthesis, and have started exploring this project further in my PhD.



I am interested in the culture of science, and the way it is perceived, communicated and passed on. In 2013, I co-created Strange Nature, a science-writing competition for Australian high-school students. We were inspired by a quote from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, "Of what a strange nature is knowledge, it clings to the mind like a lichen on the rock", and the fact that a nineteen-year-old could ignite the imagination of scientists and artists for generations.
More recently I've been annually hosting public debates at the Oxfordshire Science Festival focusing on issues of genome editing and genome synthesis.