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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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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Careers Fair – Wednesday 8th November

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).

Do you want to live forever?

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.Advert for debate

Another Fresh View

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.

Issy Wright-First year Chemistry Student

Issy Wright-First year Chemistry Student

Monday

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.

Tuesday

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.

Wednesday

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.

Thursday

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.

Friday

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.

 

What’s it like to be a new student at Brighton?

Welcome week orientation hunt group images

Some of our new students finding their way around campus

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!).

 

Monday

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.

Tuesday

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.

Wednesday

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

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

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.

Funniest photo competition pictures

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.

How to spot a chemistry staff member

On key days in welcome week many of our staff can be found wearing chemistry@brighton t-shirts. If you are lost or have any queries then please grab one of them and ask for help. staff t-shirt design

End of first year

Chemistry@brighton labs

Happy first years in the lab

The sun is out and the students are on study leave before exams start next week. What better place to do your revision than a sunny beach with a cool sea breeze.

Our first years have made it to the end of the year and as a last teaching event we held our annual errors lab. Who knew errors could be so much fun! Right from the start our students learn the essentials of analytical chemistry, accuracy and precision and this lab puts into practice and illustrates the errors in the equipment they use. The challenge is rewarded with prizes for the first team to finish, the best designed results sheet, the best data and the most salient results.

We hope you’ve had a great first year here at Brighton, we’ve certainly enjoyed working with you! Good luck for the exams.

 

Final year research project submission day

Jaspreet (BSc(hons) Pharmaceutical & Chemical Sciences) and Lorraine (BSc(hons) Chemistry) submitting their dissertations for binding

Charis and Emily (both BSc(hons) Chemistry) submitting their projects to our friendly school office staff member Matt

This morning our final year BSc and third year MChem students are submitting their research project dissertations. They have been working hard in the lab all year doing some fantastic innovative and challenging research.  The final challenge is a defence of their work by oral viva voce exam, but we’ll give them a couple of weeks break before that!

In the meantime they will enjoy ChemSoc’s night out in celebration of submitting their work (and the second year’s analytical validation report) and continue to work hard on their other modules. The end is in sight now though, well done to all of you!

New LinkedIn group for chemistry & PCS alumni

We have just set up a group on LinkedIn so graduates can keep in touch with us and each other and network with other graduates to share experiences, jobs, and memories of their time here. If you are a graduate of Chemistry (BSc, MChem & MRes) or Pharmaceutical & Chemical Sciences please come and join us. It would be fantastic to hear what you’re up to now and to keep in touch