Day conference for A level students

STEP UP Logo - School Transition & Experience Programme - Unlocking Potential

School Transition & Experience Programme – Unlocking Potential

As part of the STEP UP initiative we are holding a day conference for A level students on the 3rd April. Participants will:

  • get hands on experience of some of our larger analytical instruments,
  • refresh their study skills,
  • learn about applying to universities through UCAS,
  • hear from current students about what it is like to study chemistry and ask them questions,
  • experience a taster lecture on nerve agents

 

The day should be useful and fun with practical activities investigating contamination in the (fictional) Huxley vineyard’s latest batch of wine. Sussex-based schools in the University of Brighton Compact scheme should receive notification about the event. You can find out more and book here or visit our Step Up information page.

Big Visit in the labs

Today, whilst our own students are taking their semester 1 exams, we are welcoming local schoolchildren in years 11-13 as part of the Big Visit widening participation event. These visitors will be doing some microscale chemistry in our laboratories looking at visual changes in reactions, as well as experiencing other STEM subjects on campus.

Staff news

We’ve had a very busy summer here in chemistry@brighton and are looking forward to the return of students next week. Some exciting staffing news that has happened over the last few months.

portrait of Dr Lizzy OstlerProfessor Lizzy Ostler has been promoted to the university professoriate as Professor of Chemical Biology. This reflects her fantastic research into the ageing process at the intersection of chemistry and biology and major contributions to the university.

 

 

portrait of Dr Alison WillowsDr Alison Willows has been promoted to Principal Lecturer, she has been instrumental in developing the chemistry courses and this position will allow further development for chemistry@brighton

 

 

portrait of Dr Graham PattisonWe are delighted to welcome Dr Graham Pattison as lecturer in Organic Chemistry. I’m sure he’ll receive a warm welcome from all of the students when they return and already has some looking to undertake undergraduate research with him. He’s settling in well to the team and we wish him every success here with us. Stay tuned for more details.

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Hitting the high notes

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.

Click here for the university’s press release and  obtain tickets for the event on 24th March at the Dominion Centre London

Student research success

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

MChem students outside Burlington House

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.

 

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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.

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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.

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Latest article publications from chemistry staff – October

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.

Dr Cragg, Dr Willows, Dr Patel, Dr Kothur (ex-PhD student) and Ms Kamenica (MPhil student) have authored an open access article “Lithium ion sensors” in the journal Sensors

ACS Editor’s Choice for Brighton’s chemistry research

ACS Editor’s Choice for recently published Chemistry Research;

Recent work by Dr Marcus Dymond (Division of Chemistry, PABS) and Prof. George Attard (University of Southampton) with collaborators at the MAX IV synchrotron/ University of Lund, SE has been selected as a prestigious American Chemical Society Editor’s Choice article.

The ACS is the world’s largest scientific society, which publishes 51 research journals across the chemical sciences. Each year the ACS chooses 365 articles (one per day) from across its many journals to make open access as part of the ACS Editor’s Choice program. On the 29th of October 2017 new research by Dr Dymond and colleagues was chosen.

The paper, published in ACS Langmuir, looks at the membrane disrupting properties of aliphatic aldehydes. Aliphatic aldehydes are a class of chemicals that are used by algae as part of a defence mechanism however aliphatic aldehydes have also been implicated in a range of health related problems and disease mechanisms in humans. Notably aliphatic aldehydes are produced in cells as a response to reactive oxygen species (oxidative stress) interacting with lipids and there is an increasing body of evidence linking oxidative stress to global health challenges such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity and many other health conditions. Aliphatic aldehydes are also produced when some fats are heated to high temperatures for frying food, raising concerns about their incorporation in the human diet.

The researchers used X-ray diffraction facilities available at the MAX IV synchrotron SE to show that aliphatic aldehydes destabilise the flat structures formed by some of the most prominent lipids found in cell membranes. Typically cells contain large numbers of phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylethanolamine lipids, which form flat lipid bilayer membrane structures that contain protein. The most widely known example is the plasma membrane, which encapsulates the cell and allows it to control chemical conditions inside its interior. However lipid bilayers are like microscopic springs that store elastic energy and it is thought that by controlling the composition of their membranes cells can regulate the elastic stress stored within. This enables cells to regulate the function of some proteins, which respond to elastic stresses in the membrane.

In the particular case of aliphatic aldehydes the researchers found that as the concentration of these molecules increases the lipid mixtures form curved aggregates, which cannot form flat bilayers. These results strongly suggest that aliphatic aldehydes cause high levels of elastic stress in membranes. It is already known that high elastic stress can disrupt the activity of membrane bound proteins and the research suggests that the negative health effects of aliphatic aldehydes might be linked to this property as summarised in Fig 1.

UoB KTP project – Process and Analytical Chemist required

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

BSS and NSS survey

Unless you have been avoiding emails, not coming into university and not talking to anyone in the School you will, no doubt, be aware that the all undergraduate students are being asked to give their feedback on their university experience to date via either the Brighton Student Survey or the National Student Survey. This feedback is extremely important to both the school and university and helps us make changes for you.

You can read about some of the changes we made this academic year as a consequence of feedback from last year please do have a look at the your voice matters blog (https://blogs.brighton.ac.uk/yourvoicematters/school-of-pharmacy-and-biomolecular-sciences/ )

The Brighton Student Survey (BSS)

The BSS is the School and University’s main opportunity to gather feedback from all level 4 and 5 students so that we can understand what we are doing well and what we can improve.  The BSS is opened on Monday 6 February and will close at midnight on Monday 6 March, if you haven’t yet, please do take 10 minutes to complete the survey – there are only a few days left and every response matters. Completing the survey automatically enters you into a prize draw with the opportunity to win a £200 voucher from the university.

How do I complete the survey?

The National Student Survey (NSS)

The National Student Survey (NSS) is commissioned by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and is a national survey, undertaken by Ipsos MORI, which gathers the views of all final year undergraduates about what it has been like to study their course at their institution.

The survey comprises 27 questions in the survey cover teaching, assessment and feedback, learning opportunities, academic support, organisation and management, learning resources, personal development, and the student voice. There are also questions about careers, course delivery, work placements, welfare resources and facilities, social opportunities and overall satisfaction.

How do I complete the survey?

Because the school would really like to receive feedback from as many students as possible we have decided to donate £100 to the student society associated with the course that has the highest proportion of their students completing both the BSS and NSS so your society could receive up to £200 for 10 minutes of your time.

Congratulations Kushal!

Congratulations to Kushal Sharma who passed his PhD viva this morning. Kushal’s research on probing ion transport mechanisms with synthetic channel-forming molecules was supervised by Dr Marcus Allen and Dr Peter Cragg.

Best of luck for the future!