During the induction week, our new starters ventured over to the nerve-racking TV studio where they shared with us their motivations of joining the CSCT. (Includes bloopers!)
During the induction week, our new starters ventured over to the nerve-racking TV studio where they shared with us their motivations of joining the CSCT. (Includes bloopers!)
EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) was first established in 2009. This academic year, we have turned six!
We are the only CDT to focus on developing new molecules, materials, processes and systems from the lab right through to industrial application, with an emphasis on practical sustainability.
The CDT continues to grow, providing excellent research training for scientists and engineers to work together with industry to meet the needs of current and future generations.
Chris Davey went to the Euromembrane conference in Aachen, Germany to give a talk on sustainable separations for Industrial Biotechnology. Here is Chris' account on his trip:
At the beginning of September I attended the conference Euromembrane in Aachen, Germany. The conference offered a wide variety of talks on every aspect of membrane science from leading European institutions as well as those from further afield.
It was great to discover such a wide variety of topics being researched within the membrane community. Talks were given from topics on reverse osmosis to dialysis to membranes for fuel cells. With 5 parallel sessions there was always a good variety of talks to attend. With a number of talks also focused on the application of membrane technologies within different biorefinery separations, the conference was also a great chance to see the type of research being conducted within the field of my PhD.
On the final day I gave my talk entitled “Enabling more sustainable separations for Industrial Biotechnology: membrane fractionation cascades for 2,3-butanediol”. This was part of a session on nanofiltration. I received valuable advice from different members of the membrane community. Overall the conference was a great experience and a really good opportunity for making contacts within the wider membrane community.
Chris is working towards his PhD on "Lower energy recovery of dilute organics from fermentation broths" with Dr Darrell Patterson and Professor David Leak.
George Gregory went to the Faraday Discussion - Carbon Dioxide Utilisation in Sheffield to present a poster and won the poster prize. Here is George's account on her trip:
A conference with a difference! Held over three days at the University of Sheffield and ran by the RSC, academics who had submitted a manuscript for Faraday Discussion under the umbrella theme of CO2 utilisation were invited to briefly present their work (strictly five minutes) before the floor was opened up for discussion. Lively discussion ensued, everyone attending having received pre-printed copies of all the papers being showcased prior to the event. The whole experience was a real insight into the peer review process with all questions and subsequent answers being published alongside the article.
Evident was the broad range of different research topics that tap into the area of carbon dioxide utilisation. New catalysts and mechanistic insights into catalytic activity for the synthesis of cyclic carbonates and polycarbonates presented by Richard Heyn from SINTEF Materials and Chemistry and Charlotte Williams form Imperial College London were particularly relevant to my research. Reactive capture of CO2 with Grignard reagents raised in George Dowson’s submission sparked a lot of discussion regarding the underlying sustainability issues to be addressed in CO2 chemistry. This was nicely complemented by Christopher Jones from the Psychology Department of the University of Sheffield reporting his findings on the public perceptions of CO2 utilisation technology. Compared to the work presented on the hydrothermal and electrocatalytic conversion of CO2, plasma-based technologies were a completely new realm for me.
All this was sandwiched between an inspiring opening by Martyn Poliakoff who simplified the aims of CO2 chemistry and complimentary closing by Michael North from the University of York. The answer to rising atmospheric CO2 levels was likened to piglets feeding suggesting that a multitude of different technologies are required. Like any conference, discussion was broken up by poster sessions and a conference dinner, offering a great chance to network and I certainly received a lot of interest and helpful suggestions regarding my work. Faraday Discussion tradition also dictates that the loving cup ceremony be performed requiring a few words of Latin to be spoken, bowing and drinking port from a silver chalice. I was also honoured to win the £200 poster prize.
In conclusion, Faraday Discussions by their very nature offer a great opportunity to learn about, challenge and defend research - definitely worth attending.
George is working towards her PhD on "Cyclic carbonates from sugars and CO2: synthesis, polymerisation and biomedical applications" with Dr Antoine Buchard, Professor Matthew Davidson and Dr Ram Sharma.
We interviewed Rhodri Jenkins, a recent graduate of the CSCT. He reflects on his PhD journey and tells us a little bit about his current work.
Rhodri will be soon be moving to New Mexico to start a new position as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
We interviewed Duygu Celebi, who has recently completed her PhD thesis at the CSCT and moved on to become a Senior Formulation Scientist at Unilever in Connecticut, USA.
Tell us how you started your journey as a PhD student?
I came to the CSCT after completing a Masters degree at Imperial College London where I studied “Green Chemistry: Energy and Environment” but wanted to learn more about the renewable materials and sustainable technologies after I graduated. I came across the CSCT PhD studentship on a website when I was looking for jobs. Bath was one of my favourite cities in the UK and this combined with an integrated PhD in Sustainable Technologies was the perfect match for me so I applied for it. I was offered a place the morning after my interview and that was the beginning of my PhD journey.
How would you describe your time at the CSCT?
I really liked the idea of completing two projects during the first year and later deciding on one of them to take further to PhD level. I have heard some people regretting the research area they choose for their PhDs but at CSCT you are given the opportunity to choose which means you already have an idea of the research topic and get to know the potential supervisors for the project which is also a very important part of the PhD.
I had a great four years at CSCT and made some lifelong friends. We were constantly provided with the support to take us to a higher level and help us to stay in the competition. This could be by means of attending conferences, workshops related to your research, doing an internship in your preferred company and obtaining resources necessary for your knowledge growth.
What are you going to do next?
I have now moved to the US with my husband and am excited to be part of the Unilever family as a Senior Formulation Scientist. My role involves development of formulations for personal care products and optimization of the current techniques to test these products on the skin. I work on multiple projects involving cleansing, analysis and formulation.
How did CSCT have an impact on your career decision?
I did an internship at Unilever in the UK, which helped me gain an insight into research in industry which in turn, affected my career choice.
Any advice to our current and new students?
As long as you work hard and show that you are willing to learn, CSCT will provide you with all their resources and help you pursue your career.
Joe Thompson and Andrew Rushworth went to Singapore to give talks on CVD growth of Tungsten disulfide-graphene and Tin sulfide-graphene heterostructure respectively. Here is Joe's account on their trip:
Andrew and I recently attended the 5th Molecular Materials Meeting hosted by the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) out in Singapore. With six parallel sessions and a host of plenary lectures across three days we had plenty of interesting talks to keep us occupied. The conference had a broad range of subject areas from nanotechnology in food to sustainable materials for energy generation. Throughout the conference the organisers and plenary speakers emphasised the importance of working across disciplines and collaborating with industry.
Day one focussed on nanoparticles, metamaterials, food nanotechnology, material surfaces and sustainable porous materials. Day two had sessions on thermoelectrics, healthcare materials, sustainable energy materials, biomimetic materials and sensing materials. Whilst day three composed of sessions on environmentally sustainable materials, healthcare materials, functional materials, luminescent materials and 2D materials. Both Andrew and I presented at the conference which was a great experience to exhibit our work outside of the university and gain experience presenting to an international audience.
Whilst there were plenty of talks to keep us busy at the conference, there were also opportunities to explore and experience Singapore. The conference cocktail event was held at Singapore’s aquarium which was a pretty spectacular place to wander round. The conference dinner on the final day took place within Universal Studios Singapore where we had access to some of the rides and got to meet Marilyn Monroe. While we were out in Singapore the country celebrated its 50th Jubilee which meant that we could join in with the celebrations and experience some fireworks.
Joe is working towards his PhD on "New precursors for application in thin film chalcogenide materials" with Andrew Johnson and Daniel Wolverson.
Andrew is working towards his PhD on "The Development of Graphene Based Materials" with Paul Raithby, Simon Bending and Andrew Johnson.
Leighton Holyfield writes about a conference in Poland, where he presented a poster on designing safe hybrid hydrogen storage tanks.
On 16 July 2015, I started my journey to Wroclaw, Poland for the Ninth International Symposium on Surface Heterogeneities in Adsorption and Catalysis (ISSHAC-9), along with my supervisor, Dr Tim Mays, as well as Dr Nuno Bimbo and Antonio Noguera-Diaz of the Mays group. We flew to Wroclaw early on 17 July, and following registration, set out to explore the city with the half day we had available, taking in the main square in Wroclaw, enjoying the warm weather and trying traditional Polish dishes.
The conference started on the morning of Saturday 18 July, with an opening from Professor Wladimir Rudzinski, the chair of the conference organising committee, before the opening lecture from Professor Sofia Calero, who spoke about computational modelling of porous materials for use in industry and environmental protection. All the talks given in the session were allocated half an hour (typically 20 – 25 minutes for the presentation, and 5 – 10 minutes for questions), and as such all the speakers were allowed to go into their work in depth, which was good, although on the occasions that the talks weren’t very relevant to our work this could become burdensome. The sessions contained anywhere between 3 and 5 talks, with coffee breaks in between. Of the talks that most interested me during the talk were those given by Ana Martin-Calvo (University Pablo de Olavide, Spain), who was screening zeolite topologies for optimal hydrogen storage, Sarah Couck (De Vriejes University, Belgium), who presented studies on COMOC-2, a novel MOF of their creation, and Agnieszka Kierys (MarieCurie-Sklodowska University, Poland), who demonstrated a tertiary composite of porous polymer, silica gel and diclofenac for advanced drug delivery applications. Also of note was the talk of Antonio, who presented his PhD work on correlations between properties of MOFs.
The 5 day conference contained not only a large number of oral presentations, but also 3 poster sessions. These were between 1 ½ - 2 hours long, and generally featured ~ 25 posters. I presented a poster entitled ‘PIM-MOF Composites for Use in Hybrid High Pressure Hydrogen Storage Tanks’, the content of which was the results of my PhD to date. The session was a success; a number of people were interested in my work, and I even got the contact details of one Polish researcher for a potential collaboration!
ISSHAC’s unusual length was also due to a focus placed on social events and discussion, so there was ample opportunity to network with other researchers and to enjoy the city of Wroclaw. On the morning of 19 July, we went on a half-day walking tour of the city. This was a fantastic way to see the city, to ask questions about the city to an English-speaking local, and to get a bit of exercise in amongst all the sitting around and eating.
Meals were all catered for at this conference, which provided a springboard for networking (socialising!), with many of the Polish students attending the conference being very friendly and willing to talk us through the food and customs of the locals, amongst other things. The conference dinner on the penultimate evening was held in the Olesnica castle, about 30 km from Wroclaw, where all the conference attendees sat on long benches and tucked into a number of traditional Polish dishes. This was then followed with a gypsy show, consisting of live music and traditional dancing. It was a very pleasant evening in a historic setting, and another excellent opportunity to network.
All in all, I was very glad to be able to attend the conference, as I feel I gained a lot from it, both professionally in learning from other researchers and presenting my own work, but also personally, as I have made friends and collaborations that would never otherwise have been possible. I am very grateful to the Guild of Armourers and Brasiers for making my trip possible, and would thoroughly recommend anyone working in porous materials, either for adsorptive or catalytic purposes, to think about attending future ISSHAC conferences.
Leighton is in his second year at the CSCT working on designing safe hybrid hydrogen storage tanks with Dr Tim Mays and Dr Andrew Burrows.
Second year CSCT student, Jon Chouler, attended a conference on a topic very close to him: Science Communication. He shares his highlights from the event:
On Wednesday 22 and Thursday 23 July, I had the pleasure of attending the BIG event 2015: a conglomeration of the nation’s best STEM engagement people, where attendees have the opportunity to share skills and experiences, develop professional links and keep up to date with the STEM engagement field.
The event this year was held in Norwich at the John Innes Centre, a centre that hosts cutting edge research on plant genetics. The proceedings begun on Wednesday in the Merton Auditorium with an introduction to the event from the very excitable Rachel Mason. This was closely followed by the “BIG Event Mingle”- a speed dating style chance to try out, and teach a whole range of 3 minute long public engagement ideas- which included Non-Newtonian fluids in ballerina shoes, and building a mega-structure to knock a duck off a platform (not a real duck of course!).
In the afternoon I attended two very good sessions. One was a workshop on performer evaluation, which gave me some really good insights into evaluation methods, what is needed from an evaluation, and also the fact that when giving feedback you need to consider that the performer is a person with feelings! I also went to a performance called “Save the World in 45 mins” by Ken Farquhar, where he presented some key messages about climate change and waste in an incredibly entertaining way- lots of audience interaction, and you could tell he used to be a street performer!
Day 2 of the conference, and we start fresh and early at 9am with a fascinating talk from the Science Team at the BBC’s One Show. They gave us a behind the scenes look at how they select, develop and present new science pieces for the show: namely that it is all about delivering a good story for the audience to engage with. What was interesting is how they said most scientific ideas can be clearly explained in 4.5 minutes… even the top level “clever” stuff!
The day progressed with two great workshops. One was on using arts and crafts for interacting with adult audiences. This was particularly good for we got the chance to make STI cupcakes. I made Chlamydia. Jokes aside, I found that these kind of activities were really good for an adult to engage with a scientific concept and discuss it as heavily or as lightly as they choose.
The final workshop of the day was a cracker. Lewis Hou introduced us all the word of the Science Ceilidh… using traditional folk music and dance to communicate science. It was incredibly fun and we even got to make our own dances up and try them out on each other. I can see a very good idea for a University of Bath public engagement activity coming!
The day ended with the Best Demo competition, with 12 performers going head to head to deliver their best demo in 3 minutes. There was colour changing wine, galvanising coins in base, super long tape measures, and tricksy little matchboxes. All really good demos and they gave me a lot of ideas on how to improve my performing style for public events.
So all in all, the BIG event 2015 was an absolute blast. I learnt a lot on how to develop myself as a science communicator, picked up some very useful links for developing projects here in Bath, and picked up some great ideas for new events.
To attend this conference, Jon was kindly funded by the Public Engagement team at the University of Bath. Jon has also recently won this year’s Vice-Chancellor’s Postgraduate Prize for Public Engagement with Research for his outstanding activities and his talk on using microbial fuel cells to detect toxic compounds in water for developing countries.
Students from the University of Bath’s Mays and Ting groups, colloquially known as ‘Team Hydrogen’, recently attended the 7th International Workshop on Characterization of Porous Materials in Florida. CSCT students Leighton Holyfield and Jemma Rowlandson presented their work to leading porous materials scientists from around the world. This post was contributed by Leighton.
Hundreds of the world’s finest porous materials scientists descended upon the warm and sunny climes of southern Florida for the Characterization of Porous Materials Workshop. The conference, held over four days, saw 46 oral and 84 poster presentations made, spanning a wide variety of concepts within porous materials science, from detailed analyses on whether current adsorption protocol is correct, to the synthesis of new materials such as MOFs and activated carbons, to new applications for standard materials. Certainly, there was a wealth of knowledge and experience, and being able to be a part of it was quite the experience.
Following an enjoyable first day in which registration and an evening gala were the only arranged affairs (allowing for enjoyment of the Florida sunshine and the Marriott hotel’s pool!), the science started on Day 2. Following an introduction from Alexander Neimark, the conference organiser, Bernt Smarsly gave a fascinating insight into the use of SAXS/SANS for the characterisation of micropores, and the conference was underway.
Talks of particular interest on day 2 were those of Jean Rouquerol, who discussed whether the accepted science of the ‘Gibbs excess amount’ is applied correctly, Phil Llewelyn, who compared MOFs for CO2 storage and developed metrics based on the results and Daniel Siderius, who presented the ever-evolving NIST database of known adsorbents.
Day 2 was finished with an evening poster session, in which both Jemma and I presented the findings from our MRes projects in our first year. Unfortunately, this was the only time dedicated to poster presentation, as it would have been nice to have more time to discuss our findings with the other attendees.
Also of great interest were the final three talks of day 4. These were given by Bath’s own Valeska Ting on Team Hydrogen’s work on hydrogen adsorption in activated carbons (particularly some neutron scattering work that appears to show hydrogen at solid-like densities in the adsorbed phase), and Bogdan Kuchta, who gave a general overview of hydrogen storage in microporous materials. The last lecture of the conference was given by Peter Pfeiffer, who gave a very interesting lecture on new activated carbons and hydrogen storage within these, showing storage densities in the adsorbed monolayer above that of liquid hydrogen.
After the closing of the conference, there was a tour of the Quantachrome facility up the road in Baton Rouge, and the evening was closed out with a boat trip, cruising up and down the Gulf Stream river to see all the multi-million dollar homes!
Ultimately, CPM-7 was a thoroughly worthwhile trip, as we learnt a lot, made new contacts for potential future collaborations, and had the opportunity to present our work to some of the leading porous materials scientists in the world. We came home eager to crack on with our work and await the next opportunity!
Leighton is currently in his second year of PhD working on designing safe hybrid hydrogen storage tanks with Dr Tim Mays and Dr Andrew Burrows