Dr Katherine Dunn

Senior Lecturer and Director of Discipline for Mechanical Engineering



+44(0)131 6504845


3.12 Mary Bruck

Personal Page: 

Social Media: 

Engineering Discipline: 

  • Mechanical Engineering

Research Institute: 

  • Bioengineering

Research Theme: 

  • Bioengineering
Katherine Dunn portrait photo wearing blue jacket and red top with pictures and certificates hanging on wall behind


After completing the four year MPhys course at Oxford and achieving a First, I stayed on to carry out research for my DPhil, initially in the field of Terahertz Spectroscopy. After 18 months I changed direction and started a new DPhil in Biological Physics, submitting my thesis entitled ‘DNA Origami Assembly’ a little under three years later. In 2014, I went to York to take up an appointment as a Research Associate in the Department of Electronic Engineering, working primarily on synthetic DNA nanomachines in the context of bioelectronic computing.

I joined the School of Engineering at Edinburgh as a Lecturer in 2017. I am affiliated with the discipline of Mechanical Engineering and I am a member of the Institute for Bioengineering, where I carry out research in the area of Synthetic Biology.

Academic Qualifications: 

  • DPhil in Condensed Matter Physics (Biological Physics), University of Oxford, 2014
  • Master of Physics, First Class, University of Oxford, 2009


I have been teaching since 2010, and have taught students at Oxford, York and Edinburgh, covering a wide range of subjects spanning physics, engineering, biology, nanotechnology, mathematics and industry matters.

At Edinburgh, I have been involved in various teaching activities within the Mechanical Engineering degree programme.

In 2017/18, I taught half of the fourth year Thermodynamics course, and for three years running (2017/18, 18/19 and 19/20) I was responsible for the practical work for the second year Thermodynamics course. From 2018 to 2020 inclusive, I organized industrial visits for all third year Mechanical Engineering students, and dealt with the associated coursework assignment, in which students analyse companies and their business-models.

In academic year 2018/19, I became the course organizer for a brand new course in 'Bio-Inspired Engineering', as a result of having formally proposed its introduction a few months earlier. As of 2020/21, my course is in its third year, and has proven to be very popular. It is taken by students on several degree programmes, including both Mechanical and Chemical Engineering.

In 2021, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, I introduced a new assignment to replace the original Industrial Visits coursework, as it was impossible for students to go on any external visits.

Alongside the above, I deliver some classes for second year Engineering Mathematics, on the subject of multiple integrals. I am also the 'personal tutor' for 35 undergraduate students, providing guidance and pastoral support as required, and every year I supervise 4 final year research projects.

Research Interests: 

My research involves re-engineering biological molecules and using them as building blocks in new technologies.

Current projects are aimed at developing life-saving diagnostics for diseases such as cancer, ground-breaking tools for synthetic biology and new bio-inspired paradigms for net zero electricity generation and energy storage.

For more information about my research, please click here.