Today chemistry@brighton welcomes 21 schools from Sussex, Kent, Surrey and London for the Salters’ Institute Festival of Chemistry. Teams of year 7 and 8 children undertake two practical challenges one set by Salters and one by the university with the opportunity to compete for prizes along the way. chemistry@brighton staff are involved in judging, technical assistance, chemistry quiz and the teacher programme for the day. This is an annual event which we host each year enabling students to gain practical experience in our laboratories whilst having fun competing against other schools in the South East.
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.
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.