Medal winners discuss their research

On Tuesday we were fortunate to hear two Royal Society of Chemistry medal winners discuss their award winning research. Professor Christine Cardin (University of Reading) and Dr Susan Quinn (University College Dublin) were awarded the Rita & John Carnforth Award, alongside Professor John Kelly (Trinity College Dublin) for their structural work on DNA – transition metal complexes, proof of the origins of the “light-switch” effect and its implications for mechanisms of DNA damage.

Students and staff gathered to hear the advantages of working in collaborative teams across the chemistry and life-science interface with an example of research that could not be done any other way. This is reflective of the research that is done here at Brighton and many of the final year students are starting their path on this type of collaboration already in their final year projects.

Open Day

img_0191We’re here and ready to welcome potential applicants and show them what we do here at chemistry@brighton.

Here is one of our student ambassdors to tell you what it’s like to be a chemistry student at Brighton.

“There is a really inclusive feel to Chemistry at Brighton, which made me feel instantly welcomed. All the staff offer guidance whether that’s in academics or general advice. There are plenty oppurtunities from developing practical skills in high-spec laboratories to completing a placement in industry. The overall experience has given me a great foundation for my future.”

Charlotte Sarmouk (Final Year)

PABS Friday Seminar – Chemistry Session

This week’s school research seminar is hosted by Chemistry. We are delighted to welcome Dr Mark Sambrook from Dstl Porton Down. Mark will be giving a talk entitled “Supramolecular chemistry and Chemical Warfare Agents: From molecular recognition to functional supramolecular systems”

The seminar will be in H400/1 on friday 21st October 1-2pm.

A Level Thursday

Today is A level results day and our next cohort of students are receiving their results. We’d like to congratulate and welcome those who now have unconditional places with us. We are really looking forward to meeting you at the end of September and hope you are excited about joining our community. We have a Student Union facebook groups and our ChemSoc has their own Facebook group as well which you are welcome to join. You can get to know others on the course and at Brighton and find out what you could be doing when you get here.

For those who have not got quite what they were hoping for we still have a few places left on MChem, BSC(hons) Chemistry and BSc(hons) Pharmaceutical and Chemical Sciences. Call our clearing hotline on 01273 644000 and see if we can help you with your next steps. For more information on Clearing please visit our website

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

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.

Salters’ Festival of Chemistry

This week we once again played host to the Salters Festival of Chemistry. This is an annual event which brings together schools from all over East and West Sussex and some in Surrey and Kent as well.

They had an entertaining day starting with an introduction to chemistry and Brighton and where chemistry can take you. Then it was on to the first practical activity, The Salters’ Challenge. This was a murder mystery where the pupils used our laboratories and equipment to idenitfy some unknown substances and nail the suspect. Some great forensic sleuthing from all involved!

After lunch was the University Challenge (not the quiz show!). This involved identifying functional groups and testing chemicals to produce a spectrum of colour. Then both pupils and their teachers were treated to a Chemical Magic show from our very own Professor Hal Sosabowski.

Final part of the day was the prizegiving. All of the schools performed very well and there were some tough decsions for the judges. Final results were:

Salters’ Challenge University Challenge
1st Farlington School, Horsham Brighton College, Brighton
2nd The Hawthorns School, Bletchingley Christ’s Hospital School, Horsham
3rd Priory School, Lewes Lavant House, Chichester

We hope everyone that came enjoyed their day and saw how exciting university chemistry can be. Thanks to all of our staff involved with the day and for the schools for being so keen and enthusiastic. We’ll see you next year!

Congratulations Dr Birar

Congratulations from all of the chemistry division to Dr Vishal Birar who successfully defended his PhD in a 4 hour viva today. The thesis entitled “Does SIRT1 or cytostasis underlie the anti-ageing activity of trans-stilbenes?” is the culmination of three years hard work and was examined by Professor Mark Bagley of the University of Sussex and Dr Allison Lansley of the University of Brighton.

Dr Vishal Birar image2

Vishal  has become a well-liked member of the department helping undergraduates and fellow postgraduates alike. We wish him well in the future as he starts his career in research.

Student successes

Royal Society of Chemistry Undergraduate Research Bursary

One of our MChem students has successfully gained a bursary to undertake some research at the university with Dr Irina Savina and Professor Sergey Mikhalovsky during the summer. Lorraine will spend 7 weeks within the research laboratories at the University of Brighton developing novel macroporous gels based on lignin. Lignin is currently attracting attention for its low cost and eco-friendly properties and is produced as a by-product of the wood and paper industry. Lorraine will be synthesising and characterising polymers made from lignin taking advantage of the adsorption ability to remove metals from water.

 

Salter’s Graduate prize shortlist

Congratulations also go to one of our final year chemists, Lois, who was nominated by us to compete for the Salter’s graduate prize for chemistry and chemical engineering. Whilst not quite gaining the final prize we are very pleased that she was shortlisted for interview. The prizes are awarded based on assessment of the candidate to occupy leading positions in public life and we are certain that Lois will do will in her career once she graduates.