Dr Sylvia McLain

Dr Sylvia McLain

I am a Stipendiary Lecturer in Biochemistry at St Peter’s College and a Research Fellow in the  Department of Biochemistry.  I have an undergraduate degree in Zoology, a MSc in Science Education and a PhD in Physical and Inorganic Chemistry.  I have a wide scientific background; having previously worked in field biology, evolutionary biology genetics , inorganic chemistry.  I have previously held three independent research fellowships, at STFC, UK, the US Department of Energy and at King's College London.  I have been at Oxford since 2011 when I took up a research fellowship funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council in the Department of Biochemistry.

In addition I have taught English in Wuhan, People’s Republic of China in the 90′s, was a raft guide on the Chattooga River in South Carolina for 4 years and was a bicycle mechanic.  I also occasionally write for The Guardian about science and the philosophy of science. 


At St. Peter’s I teach biological chemistry and biophysics principles methods and techniques.  I also teach protein structure and function as well as some chemistry for the course.  In addition I tutor medical students in protein structure and function.  Outside the college, I have taught at the Institute of Physics Advance Schools Program for graduate students. 


My research group focuses on understanding the physics of life.  In life,  almost all biological processes take place in water.  Our bodies are composed of 60-70% water yet how water functions in biology is very poorly understood. Our group focuses on understanding how biological molecules – such as drugs, proteins and lipids – interact with each other and with water in solution and how this understanding translates into a variety of natural biological functions – from drug-protein interactions to membrane interactions and to the development of life itself.  

Further information on my research interests and my group can be found at our group website.