Alexandra Maneta is a PhD student in the Sustainable Environment Research Centre at USW. Originally from Greece, Alexandra came to USW study the Forensic Science degree, winning the Cansford Laboratories Prize for Best Performing Final Year Student.
"My PhD involves the development of a novel biotechnological process which targets the production of biopropane and biobutane gases by using agricultural, municipal, industrial waste and sewage sludge. The main focus is the metabolic pathways that lead to the production of such gases within the microbial populations. I am hoping this project lays the foundation for a cleaner and low-carbon energy system globally.
"My love for toxicology began in the final year of my Forensic Science degree. Up until then, I knew I loved science but the toxicology module sparked my interest on a completely different level. I became fascinated by looking at metabolic pathways and understanding how the human body breaks down xenobiotics by activating and employing specific enzymes.
"Another key moment came during my final year project when I was designing my own experiments. A few of the experiments were successful but the majority were a complete failure! I remember getting very frustrated, but my supervisor taught me to enjoy the process and not get angry, just approach the problem with a different perspective. This is an important lesson for any budding scientist!
"Because of the practical nature of the project, the majority of my PhD work is based in the lab. Our team is very multicultural and consists of researchers with various disciplinary backgrounds. We all help each other and share ideas, which makes it a great team to work with.
"The support I have received from my supervisory team (which I now call my second family) has been invaluable. They help me see my potential and make me a better scientist. I hope I am able to do the same for my future students in the years ahead. After all, we all need to be inspired by others!
"At the moment, I am building a series of reactors which will be hosting my experiments for the next two years. We are also developing analytical methodologies for monitoring our production at different stages and targeting future publications. It is definitely an exciting time! In the future, I would like to combine my forensic background with the environmental field and get involved with the environmental contamination and ecotoxicology in research scale."