Today chemistry@brighton welcomes students in the middle of their A level studies from across Sussex for a day of practical work and advice about next steps. We’re really looking forward to welcoming them into our labs and showing them what the big instruments do. They’ll get hands-on experience of instruments they have been learning about and get a flavour of what it is like being a chemistry@brighton student. The day consists of a scenario where they are testing samples from the (unfortunately fictional) Huxley vineyard to find out why there is a problem with the taste. Is it contamination? Did someone use the wrong preservative? Hopefully the students will use their scientific skills to figure out what is wrong so the vineyard can get back on track.
Proving that chemistry@brighton graduates are a multi-talented bunch, one of our graduates Debbie-Ann Ofosuware School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences (BSc(Hons) Pharmaceutical and Chemical Sciences), and colleague Teniola Taiwo who graduated from the University’s Brighton Business School (BA(Hons) in Business and Marketing) founded the Sound of Zion Gospel choir whilst here at the university. The choir comprises singers from both Brighton and Sussex universities and has reached the final of the national University Gospel Choir of the Year (UGCY) competition.
University Gospel Choir of the Year is a voluntary organisation providing a platform for university gospel choirs across the UK to develop and showcase their musical abilities. Other finalists include Imperial College Gospel Choir, Cambridge University Gospel Choir Manchester Harmony Gospel Choir, and returning champions London College of Creative Media Choir.
Yesterday our final year MChem students had a day trip to London to the home of UK chemistry, the Royal Society of Chemistry‘s Burlington House base. The event was an early career research conference on environmental chemistry hosted by the RSC Environmental Chemistry Interest Group
An event of this sort welcomes research presented by PhD students and postdoctoral researchers, a smaller friendlier way to present your work and gain valuable experience as well as find out about a wide range of topics in the area. In this case though, we showcased how undergraduate research can be every bit as important and that it is never too early to start your research career.
The day started with a warm welcome and some interesting talks from early career researchers from several different institutions.
Good time was given to the poster session which allowed the presenters time to speak to everyone about their work. The worthy winner of the poster prize certainly had a good talking point with acetate overlays for her mapping project of lead in Glasgow. Interactive posters, a great idea. Our students got to talk to PhD students about their work and what it was like to do a PhD, the real life version from the coal-face.
Lunch provided additional networking opportunities, and a free lunch which students always seem to enjoy! Though for one of our students the nerves were setting in as her talk neared.
Sarah Chandler presented her work from her third year research project on developing autonomous electrochemical sensors to analyse metals in the marine environment. It’s quite unusual for third year students to undertake real research but here at Brighton we feel it’s the best way of developing their practical skills and ability to think about more than what is presented for examination. Starting in the third year also means they are already skilled researchers by the time it comes to their final year projects and their can use this experience when applying for PhD positions.
Sarah’s project was very successful and she worked hard to understand a new area and add her own ideas during the process. Ultimately she managed to develop a sensor that could detect sub-ppb levels of As in real samples, and with a little more development should work well in the field without additional reagents. During the talk she impressed with her knowledge and ability to convey the intricacies of her work with clarity and interest. That she is still to complete her first degree only added to the impact of her presentation.
The day ended with a great keynote explaining one very varied career path with some interesting tales and some great advice for the students starting out. Not least that often what seems like a disaster at the time can turn out to be great interview fodder when you explain how you dealt with it.
The final act of the day after thanking all the presenters was the oral presentation prize. Much to her surprise Sarah was awarded the prize, testament to her talents and proving that you don’t have to be doing a PhD to undertake great research. I’m sure she’ll go far.
All the students got so much out of the day, from hearing research from people not far from where they are in their careers, to the great career advice from the two keynotes and the networking opportunities provided so well throughout the day. We’d like to thank the RSC Environmental Chemistry Group organising committee for a successful day, we’ll definitely be back.
Many students on the Chemistry and Pharmaceutical and Chemical Sciences courses at Brighton will already be familiar with the exciting world of small molecule therapies designed to slow ageing –through Dr Ostler’s (in)famous CH210 group consultancy report. The joys and difficulties of sorting anecdotal life extensionist optimisim from genuine scientific discoveries brought to life in this second year assessment gained a new twist this week.
Exciting new research conducted in a collaboration between Dr Ostler, Professor Faragher (also at the University of Brighton) and Prof Lorna Harries at Exeter University was recently published in BMC Cell Biology.
The discovery showed that novel small molecule analogues of the stilbene resveratrol (found naturally in red wine and chocolate) could “rejuvenate” senescent cells. The treated cells began to grow again and took on many features of “young” cells. The team also showed that this was because of changes in RNA splicing factors, the cellular machinery that allows cells to make many different kinds of protein from a single DNA sequence. The ability to use small molecules to intervene in this previously unexplored mechanism provides new possibilities for the development of anti-degenerative compounds that could allow people to remain heathier well into old age.
Earlier this week the mainstream press became interested in these discoveries, leading to some great headlines including the Sun’s “Wine’s end of the lines, Red wine and chocolate are secret to beating wrinkles, study says” and the Daily Mail’s “Chocolate and red wine ‘are the secret to beating wrinkles’: Scientists find both help rejuvenate old cells as well as the less dramatic “Reversing Aging: Scientists Make Old Human Cells Look And Act Younger in Breakthrough Discovery” from Newsweek and “Breakthrough: Scientists reverse aging in human cells” from Medical News Today. Our thoughts on the subject will be appearing soon in The Conversation.
All of this was made possible by chemistry and biology researchers working together – something we prize in our undergraduate degrees and that is reflected in our multidisciplinary School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences. Whatever your conclusions about red wine and chocolate, it is clear that our researchers and students will keep generating much food for thought!
The University of Brighton is holding its annual careers fair on wednesday 8th November at the Amex Stadium, Falmer 11 am – 3pm..
Many employers will be there alongside guidance on options for further study and for improving your chances of getting that job.
More information can be found on the university careers fair website, including a full list of exhibitors at the fair.
Of interest to chemists might be BMW, where we have had students attend placements in the last few years, CGG a geosciences company, NHS scientist training, Roche Diagnostics, Southern Water and postgraduate education information (including PGCE).
Professor Richard Faragher, Professor of Biogerontology here at University of Brighton and based in our School, will be debating whether science should be able to help us live forever (or longer at least). The debate will be streamed live tomorrow, Tuesday 7th November at 7pm (UK time) from the Universty of Santiago de Compostela. It promises to be an entertaining and informative discussion covering everything from the science of ageing to the ethics and social implications surrounding it. You can tune in to the debate live at the Regueifas de Ciencia ’17 website here you can also find out more about the debate itself.
Update of publications from our chemistry staff and research students
New for 2017/18 a monthly round-up of publications from staff and students in the chemistry area here at Brighton. Suscribe to the blog and get regular updates on what we are doing here at brighton
Dr Ostler and Dr Vishal Birar (ex-PhD student) are co-authors on the open access article “Small molecule modulation of splicing factor expression is associated with rescue from cellular senescence” in BMC Cell Biology.
|New KTP awarded – seeking Chemistry graduate|
New 3 year Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) – recruiting!
We are pleased to announce that we have been awarded a new 3 year KTP programme with Medisort Ltd based in Littlehampton, West Sussex. Medisort collect, process and dispose of healthcare waste in the Southeast of England, offering a bespoke service which maximises segregation, ensures full compliance, delivers cost reductions and reduces environmental impact.
Through their membership of the University’s Green Growth Platform (GGP), the company were supported through the process of partnering with an academic team to bring analytical chemistry, microbiology and biomaterials expertise into their business through a KTP.
This three year project aims to develop waste treatment and material recovery processes to facilitate the development of novel products from bulk offensive waste. The project – which has a total value of £229,191– is led and supervised by Dr Dipak Sarker and supported by Dr Ian Cooper and Dr Maureen Berg, all from the School of Pharmacy and Biological Sciences.
We are seeking an excellent Chemistry/Chemical Engineering (or related field) graduate to lead and deliver the project with Medisort, and would be grateful if you could bring this opportunity to the attention of any suitably qualified graduates. Full details of the vacancy – for a Process and Analytical Chemist (KTP Associate) – are available at: https://jobs.brighton.ac.uk/vacancy.aspx?ref=EG4035-17-446.
To find out how you can become involved in Knowledge Transfer Partnerships please contact the Knowledge Exchange Team at KnowledgeExchange@brighton.ac.uk
The second new student to give us some insight into the first few days as a chemistry student here at Brighton is Issy Wright. Getting used to new routines and new ways of learning is part of the experience of going to university. We hope we make the transition as smooth as possible with some of the activities in the first week. Here’s what Issy has to say about it.
It was my first day commuting from the Falmer campus, where I am living, to the Moulsecoomb site. I have always lived close enough to my school and college to walk so having to monitor the train and bus schedule and deal with delays was relatively stressful because I did not want to be late on my first day. First was the welcome talk from the head of school, I was quite nervous because there were so many people there and I didn’t know anyone on my course so I was looking around the lecture hall trying to see any students who had the chemistry timetable in front of them.
I then had to try and find the Watts building for the course talk from Dr. Willows, after the talk I felt more excited about starting the course.
In the afternoon I met my personal tutor and the tutor group. Then as a group, we had to go on a scavenger hunt which ended up being more fun than I had originally expected although there were a lot of stairs since we got lost a few times. We really worked together as a group and it was quite a good bonding activity; by the end, I felt as if I knew them really well already.
The day started with a welcome talk from the vice chancellor and the SU. I understood the formality of the vice chancellor’s speech but the talk from the students’ union was more engaging and I learned more about what they do inside and out of the university. I then had to go to a lab coat collection session which I was dreading since I am very short and have never been able to get a well fitting lab coat. However It was fine, I found one that fit but the university didn’t have any more xs sizes so I had to ask for one to be ordered which on reflection was quite entertaining. I then had to complete my in-person enrolment, which was really quick especially as there was virtually no queue for those with surnames in the latter half of the alphabet. The last session of the day was the lab activity where we had to identify simple health and safety issues and it was a nice opportunity to meet the lab technicians.
We started the day with a welfare talk providing more information about the support network at the university and within the school. Then I attended a study skills session which was quite relaxed and had a mini-lecture to help familiarise ourselves with what lectures will be like and to re-enforce the importance of attendance and good note-taking, making me feel more prepared and more comfortable with the change in teaching style. I wasn’t too interested in the fresher’s event that evening so I ended up going to a Jazz club in Brighton centre to watch the Peter Edwards trio with a couple of friends.
The societies fair was held at the AMEX stadium. The society leaders were really friendly and I got signed up to a variety of groups, from hockey to film and music. I don’t think I will have any trouble meeting new people.
I had a later start which was nice for the end of the week, had a CPD talk filled with quite a lot of information and resources related to building our professional profiles and tracking our progress and growth in knowledge over the three years which considering my interest in doing a placement year was a very useful starting point for me and I am sure will help when it comes to putting together a CV. In the RSC talk, I was made more familiar with how much you get from an RSC membership and how much cheaper the student offer is than the regular fee. I got to meet a few second year students who were friendly and put some of our worries to ease.
We’ll catch up with our new first years a little later in the year to see how they are getting on. If you are interested in coming to see what we do here at Brighton then we have an open day coming up on Saturday 21st October. Staff and students will be available to talk to you about the course and facilities here. You can sign up on our website.
For this post we have a guest piece by one of our new first year students Alexander Ludlow. Alex has just started on the BSc(hons) Chemistry course here at Brighton and has kindly recorded his experience of the Welcome Week here which culiminated in a social event in collaboration with the Royal Society of Chemistry, followed by ChemSoc’s first social event of the year (without the staff present!).
My first day studying chemistry at Brighton had a light start, we were welcomed by the Head of School who put into context what studying in Brighton meant and how we can get the most of it. The day mainly consisted of activities to familiarize yourself with the Campus and online student learning environment. To finish the day off we competed against other tutor groups for a scavenger hunt, which I was sceptical about, but ended being a very enjoyable task, where I not only got to know people in my tutor group, but also got to know the buildings where I’d be taught.
Today was some administration before we can get into the Chemistry laboratories. Later in the day we had a fun lab activity, where there was a simulation of typical hazards and bad practise in the lab. We had to explain to the technician the hazards we had found and how we would deal with them.
My Wednesdays are not very busy because the University likes to keep this day open for you to do sports, should you choose to. We had our first Course related talk today, detailing how we should study, which was helpful. Our lecturer, the Inorganic chemist named Ian Gass, whom is a fan of Iron, and sounds like Frankie Boyle, created a light and fun environment, whilst still speaking in a very detailed manner allowing me to follow what he was saying easily. For an example on note making and the importance of attendance he taught us about Crystal field theory, I found it very difficult and almost hypocritical the idea that a ligand forming a dative covalent bond with a central metal ion, can be considered to have an ionic interaction with the central metal ion. I said to one of my peers “I’ve just realised chemistry isn’t black and white” they replied “have you only just realised?”. Chemistry is so beautiful and complex so it needs to be explained via a model that can represent the main features in a simplistic way, because to be able to understand chemistry you need a broad understanding of how many things work. It’s only now I realise I was being taught the ‘lite’ version of chemistry in previous education and the simplified version. I am excited for the year ahead but also a tad scared about the content, and the only thing I can do is be proactive and work as hard as I can and seek support when I need it.
Thursday was a late start, not much chemistry involved, because today was freshers fair, 6000 students piled into AMEX stadium to sign up for the 116 societies Brighton university had to offer. A good day and was a surprising sight.
Friday was a fun day. Whilst the 5 sets of stairs in the Watts building weren’t fun, the talk on keeping your online image positive and working on describing your weaknesses and strengths was helpful. Next, we had a small talk from the Royal Society of Chemistry which was interesting, and found out the results to Monday’s scavenger hunt. My team only got a silver, but I’ll take that. Monday was also ChemSoc’s first social. I really enjoyed meeting 3rd years and hearing their experiences and tips for first year, chemistry at UoB seems to be a tight knit group that all seem to know and support each other.
Thanks Alex for giving us an insight into your first week. We’ll catch up with the new students later in the year.
Our next Open Day is Saturday 21st October. You can visit the main University of Brighton website to sign up.