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undergraduate research

One of the great things about the chemistry courses at Brighton is the opportunity to do some real research in the third and fourth years. Students get a full day a week plus an intensive full week in the lab during the year allowing them to really get to grips with some novel chemistry. Quite frequently those students will help obtain data which is written into a research article. This year one of our final year students was given an idea and some guidance from her supervisor and turned that into a successful project of her ideas. This has now been accepted and will soon be published as a paper in Analytical Biochemistry.

So today we’ve handed over the rest of the blog to Jelena to tell us a little about her project.

Jelena Pisaruka

My final year project module was the most interesting piece of work that I had to do during my degree. I felt very independent and was able to share my own ideas with my supervisor – Dr. Dymond, but at the same time had regular meetings, helpful advice and support from him during the whole year. From the great variety of themes available for the final year project I have chosen one from physical chemistry – Miniaturized chemistry: 3D printed temperature controlled cuvette for UV/vis chemical processes. It was very interesting for me because 3D printing technique is relatively new and I never had a chance to use a 3D printer in my life before. Although 3D printers are used in different sectors already, it is new in chemistry and at the beginning I was worried that my project is more related to design or engineering and had not enough chemistry in it. But everything worked out and a paper was written based on my final year project and will be published shortly. 

The aim of my project was to design, print and test a cuvette with a temperature control system in aim for studying temperature dependent reactions. To achieve my goal I had to break it into smaller steps. The first part was to design the cuvette using Autodesk 123D software. It is design software that I have never used before so it took some time to learn how to do it. After the final design was done I have printed the cuvette using 3D printed and 2 different materials for comparison. The next step was to test the cuvette for any leakages and prepare it for the UV/spectrometer testing and finally test if the cuvette performs well for the temperature dependent reactions analysis. Of course, at every stage of the project I had different problems and had to do changes to my work to achieve the best performance of the cuvette. For example, for a very long time I could not solve the leakage problem and had to change my design, printing parameters and come up with new ideas how to prevent the leakage but all the problems were solved and final aim was achieved.

From the final year project I have gained confidence in myself and understood that I can apply my theoretical knowledge in chemistry in real life to solve problems. I also improved my presentation skills because I had to present my work to the university staff. And finally I have learned how to listen to other people’s advice and take criticism without taking it personally. All these experience will help me in my further studies because I am doing masters degree next year and in my future career.

IMG_9315 cuvette CAD

We’d like to wish Jelena every success with her Master’s course and congratulate her on her results and on having a paper published from her work.

 

Edit: You can download Jelena’s paper for free until 14th September

RSC Poster Prize

The annual Royal Society of Chemistry Analytical Research Forum took place yesterday at Burlington House, London. The day brought together Analytical Chemists from many areas showcasing research in spectroscopy, spectrometry, chromatography, electrochemistry and new sound based analysis. The one day event encourages early career researchers to present as well as bringing in senior speakers and highlights the breadth and importance of analytical chemistry in many areas of life.

Brighton PhD student Megi Kamenica presented a poster on her research into supramolecular lithium sensors under supervisors Dr Peter Cragg, Dr Bhavik Patel and Dr Alison Willows.  Hers was one of ten poster presenters invited to discuss their work further in a 3 minute flash presentation. She then went on to win the poster prize for the forum gaining a year’s e-subscription to a RSC journal. Congratulations Megi on your award.
Megi Kamenica at the conference

Congratulations class of 2016

Today our final year students get their results after all of their hard work. The Chemistry division staff would like to congratulate all of our students and wish them the very best for the future. We’ll see you at graduation!

Chemistry Class of 2016

Chemistry Class of 2016

PCS Class of 2016

Phamraceutical & Chemical Sciences Class of 2016

Why Brighton?

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Second guest slot on our blog is from MChem student Lorraine Amponsah who is currently on placement with BMW. Here she tells us how her studies at Brighton have helped her during her placement.

It has to be agreed that the University of Brighton’s unique selling point is its emphasis on the practical and analytical aspects of Chemistry – putting it simply: the course provides you with the skills and knowledge “that matter”, and are necessary for employment within the chemical industries. In many ways, my placement at the BMW Hams Halls Laboratory, as a Chemist, has consolidated much of the theory knowledge and practical skills that I acquired during the course of my degree.

On enrolling on MChem Chemistry, I was given the option to select either Biochemistry or Geochemistry as the theme to which would underpin my degree. Opting for the latter resulted in me undertaking the 2nd year module “Soil and Water Analysis”. Admittedly, at the time I struggled to understand the significance of water testing methods – “soil and water”, and “chemistry”? What was the correlation?
Excessive rainfall increases the risk of stored diesel, petrol and glycol leaching into the ground waters, and the surrounding environment; as such, BMW Chemists regularly carry COD (chemical oxygen demand) tests on site-water samples and trade effluent samples – the very same technique I had been introduced to during my “Soil and Water Analysis” laboratory sessions at university.

My efforts in completing the ‘Analytical Chemistry’ assignments have paid off in untold amounts. My sound understanding of validation parameters (reliability, precision, accuracy, specificity, ruggedness etc.) – gained as a result of the assigned ‘Validation Proposal’ analytical project – enabled me to strategically plan, and execute a series of laboratory experiments which resulted in the development of an alternative, more cost effective method of determining ‘oil content in machining coolants’ – a method soon to be shared with the BMW Chemistry teams in Germany, China, South Africa and the USA.
​It wasn’t so long ago that I and my classmates nervously tried our hand at analysing the calcium content of ‘infant formula’ by MP-AES, supervised by a chemistry demonstrator; but now, 12 months on, I can independently, and confidently analyse waste water samples for dissolved metals, using that very same analytical instrument!

There is the unfortunate scenario, that on testing, an engine malfunctions and explodes – and what a sight it is! On being provided with a sample of oil extracted from the engine, it is my job as a chemist to play “detective”. Using gravimetric analysis (as taught in first year) I am first able to ‘reveal’ any contaminants collected on the filter paper, and it is then through the employment of FTIR analysis that I am able identify the contaminant based on its produced spectra (an extension of the Physical Chemistry practical undertaken in 2nd year).

I could draw many parallels between chemistry course material, and real-world industry, but I’m sure you get the picture!

Now aware of the industrial-relevance of my course, I’ll return to complete my undergraduate studies with more focus and a greater sense of direction, safe within the knowledge that whichever chemical field I eventually choose to pursue – be it in automotive manufacture, oil & gas or materials research – my Chemistry degree at Brighton will have provided me with the skills necessary for me to excel.