This post was contributed by George Gregory.
Keen to gain industrial experience, I spent three months at Syngenta in Jeolotts Hill, Bracknell. Seeds such as corn and soya are coated with active ingredients (AIs) namely pesticides and herbicides to ensure a good crop yield. To reduce “rub-off” of the coating and the generation of dust, which is hazardous to farmers, polymers play an important role in binding AIs to the seed surface.
Working within the formulation technologies team, I undertook a systematic investigation using a Design of Experiments (DoE) approach to investigate how typical polymer properties impact on the coating quality. Amongst many other techniques, a neat image analysis tool was used to quantify the seed coverage.
In total, I was involved in four different projects gaining experience with a range of innovative technologies and coated over 75 kg of seeds bright red (as well as my lab coat) - a dye used in the coating formulation to indicate the AIs present. Working towards the common goal of food security, the theme underpinning everything I observed seemed to be a strong collaboration between people of different expertise (someone had PhD in nozzles!).
George is in her final year in the CSCT 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.
Watch George Gregory's performance at the finals of The Three Minute Thesis Competition (3MT). George talks about her research into improving plastic waste, with the help of a spoonful of sugar.
George is currently working on her PhD project on Cyclic carbonates from sugars and CO2 with Dr Antoine Buchard, Professor Matthew Davidson and Dr Ram Sharma.
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.
George and Antoine celebrating with wine after winning the 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.
On 5 and 6 July 2014, five of our second-year students (Stephen Bradley, George Gregory, Paul McKeown, Marcus Johns and Jon Wagner) were joined by third-year student Emily Hayward to present an exhibit at the Summer Science Exhibition at the prestigious Royal Society in London. This post was contributed by Stephen Bradley.
Students from the DTC were lucky enough to be offered the opportunity to hold an exhibit for two days at the Summer Science Exhibition 2014. The event itself runs for a whole week each year, at the Royal Society in London. It is free for anyone to attend and boasts a range of activities, suitable for families and adults throughout the week, with a particular focus on meeting the scientists behind cutting edge research of all types.
Being present during this weekend, we were able to reach a unique audience containing a mixture of adults, children and families. We were keen to take up this opportunity to reach such an audience and were very pleased to be able to see some of the other wonderful science and science communication that was going on too!
We took an interactive, hands-on exhibit comprising of three different experiments, making sure there would be something to interest all age groups. The first focussed around choosing renewable feedstocks to replace fossil fuels for the manufacture of a range of products, such as tyres and cosmetics. The second was a (working) banana piano to demonstrate non-metal conductors of electricity. The third was an experiment in which people competed to construct the best-performing battery.
The stall in action!
All of the experiments seemed to go down very well with the public and other exhibitors. The renewable feedstocks exhibit was a particular success with adults, as it allowed them to have in-depth discussions with scientists around the general area of sustainability – I dare say we learnt a few things from the public too! The battery-building exhibit, which had been designed in collaboration with final year Graphic Communication students at Bath Spa University was particularly popular with children; its bright and interesting design, and competitive nature, ensured it was a hit!
We had a great time at the exhibition, and thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to speak with over 3,000 people during the course of the event. Hopefully the public enjoyed it as much as we did! It was also great to see some of the ways in which other people were communicating some genuinely ground-breaking and fascinating research.