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Biochemistry Faculty Profile - Professor Tim Grant
  • Please tell us a little about yourself.
    Where did you grow up? Where did you go to school?

I grew up in and around London in the UK, in Wimbledon (I’m still a big tennis fan) until I was about ten, then a place called Kingston. I went to Hampton school, which was famous for rowing: I was small so they tried to convince me to cox, but you had to get up too early in the morning.

  • Where did you carry out your postdoctoral research?

Photo Professor Tim GrantI did my first postdoc in the UK at the National Institute for Medical Research, I then did a second postdoc in the US, at Janelia Research Campus just outside D.C.

  • As a child, who was your biggest influence?

I had a lot of teachers who really engaged me, particularly in science, my chemistry teacher Mr. Zablocki was a big one.

  • Why did you decide to study science?

Ever since I was a kid I’ve always enjoyed figuring out how things work and problem solving, so science was something I was drawn to at school. After my Biochemistry undergraduate I was very close to doing a Master’s in Computing. The master’s was unfunded, and one of my Biochem Professors offered me a PhD position which was funded, so I ended up doing a structural biology PhD instead and have been enjoying research ever since.

  • Why did you come to Madison? When?

I arrived about ten months ago in March 2020. I was drawn by the commitment to cryo-EM, the quality of the research being done here, and I also thought the area would be a great place for my kids to grow up.

  • What do you like most about being a professor?

It’s very new to me, but being totally in control of what you research is great.

  • What is the focus of your research?

I work in cryo-EM in which we use electron microscopes to solve molecular structures. My main focus is to develop new methods and techniques to extend cryo-EM so that it can be used to solve more types of problems, such as very small samples, or samples which undergo large changes / motions as part of their action. At the same time, I am hoping to be able to draw from the huge number of potential collaborators in Madison to find exciting biological problems that cryo-EM can help to solve.

  • What do you consider your major accomplishments?

I measured radiation damage rates for cryo-EM and developed a way to use them to improve images which is now used in most cryo-EM processing. Also, I am the primary developer of a software package for cryo-EM analysis called cisTEM that is used by many groups to solve their structures.

  • What advice would you provide to a new assistant professor who is just starting his/her career?

I am a new assistant professor just starting my career, so right now I am listening to as much advice as I can get, rather than giving it.

  • When you are not working, what do you like to do? What is your favorite place in Madison?

I have two young kids (5 and 1) so when I’m not working I spend a lot of time playing with them. When I can get some time for hobbies I enjoy making beer, hiking, and working on electronics projects. Since I started here after the pandemic I’ve not been able to see a lot of indoor Madison yet but I have spent a lot of time in the various parks in the area and have really enjoyed those.

  • Favorite Quote

“Time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so” - Douglas Adams

  • Fantasy Dinner Guests

Leonardo da Vinci, Marie Curie, Douglas Adams, and Jeff Simcox

  • Best Advice I Ever Received

I used to have trouble with public speaking until someone told me that for people watching “there is no difference between being confident or just pretending to be.”

  • My Undergrad Alma Mater

Imperial College, UK

  • My Worst Subject In School


  • If I Weren't A Professor, I Would…

…open a bakery.

  • In College I Drove

A Vauxhall Nova: Google tells me that it was known as an Opal Corsa A here in the US.

  • Favorite Books

Catch-22, Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett.

  • Favorite City


  • Favorite Movies

Monty Python And The Holy Grail

  • Favorite Coffee

I am ashamed to say that I prefer Coke over coffee, even for breakfast.

  • Current Research

We are working on a new imaging technique to image very small samples.

  • Nobody Knows I…

…Have an IMDB page

View Prof Grant's Biochemistry faculty page here