International Relations Office

Updates on the University's global engagement activities

Topic: Culture

My internship at Université Laval, Canada

  

📥  Culture, Funding/Scholarship, Research, Visit

I have recently returned from Quebec City, Canada after completing a six-month internship at the Department of Wood and Forestry Sciences, Université Laval. It was funded by the Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship worth CAD $11,000. This scholarship aims to activate a dynamic community of young global leaders across the Commonwealth countries, creating an impact at an international level through inter-cultural exchanges encompassing international education, discovery and inquiry, and professional experiences.

Entrance to the Université Laval

Entrance to the Department of Architecture, Université Laval

The facilities were impressive in terms of a wide range of equipments available to carry out state of the art research and experimentation in laboratories. The lab staff were very helpful in providing training on new equipments, helping with experiments and making sure labs are running smoothly. The department staff members were also very friendly and I felt welcome throughout my stay.

The department laboratory

The CIRCERB department laboratory

I attended some departmental events such as the 'Summer School' and 'Direction de Bureau' nuturing networking opportunities with industrial partners who have collaborated projects running with the Department. The all-day event was packed with presentations by people from industry, poster sessions by students and group discussions.

I took part in the "Festival Forestier" with other Queen Elizabeth scholars. It was interesting to visit the countryside over the weekend and experience the artwork (wood, iron, farming and cultivation) of local Quebec residents during this festival. I also volunteered in the 'Fall Festival' event organised by the Voice of English-speaking Quebec. It was enjoyable meeting English-speaking families in Quebec City.

Volunteering at Fall Festival

Volunteering at Fall Festival

A view of Quebec City, Canada

A view of Quebec City, Canada

The internship was an overall good experience to work in a new environment and establish good networking opportunities for future. The work completed there is a substantial part of my PhD research contributing to scientific publications. Having the prestigious Queen Elizabeth II scholarship during the PhD would be a plus on my CV. Moreover, doing a collaborated research work opens new doors for my career by meeting new people in the field.

I would like to thank my supervisors here at the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering, Dr Mike Lawrence and Dr Juliana Holley, who encouraged me to apply for this scholarship and guided me throughout the internship. I wish to acknowledge the BRE Centre for Innovation Construction Materials and the ISOBIO project for supporting my PhD research at Bath. Being the first student to go under this scholarship from Bath, it has been a highly enriching experience right from the application process till the end of the internship. Special thanks to Prof Pierre Blanchet and Dr Diane Schorr at the Université Laval for their support for the smooth progress of my research work.

Atif Hussain at the Department of Wood and Forestry Sciences

Atif Hussain at the Department of Wood and Forestry Sciences

Research trip to Stellenbosch University

📥  Conference, Culture, Research, Visit

In September 2015 I had the opportunity to travel to Stellenbosch University, South Africa, as one of the University’s strategic partners. I was presenting my research at a Newton Fund/British Council funded Early-Career Researcher Links Conference co-sponsored by the Royal Society of Chemistry on hydrogen storage at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Pretoria.

The conference was designed to enable early-career researchers in the UK to establish collaborations with other early-career researchers in South Africa and other newly industrialised and developing countries around the world.

Both Dr Valeska Ting from the Department of Chemical Engineering and I gave our talks to the conference delegates during the porous materials day of the conference. Other days focused on storage of hydrogen as chemical hydrides and hydrogen fuel cells.

Dr Robert Dawson presenting hydrogen storage in porous polymers

Dr Robert Dawson presenting hydrogen storage in porous polymers

Dr Valeska Ting presenting her work on characterisation of hydrogen storage in MIL-101

Dr Valeska Ting presenting her work on characterisation of hydrogen storage in MIL-101

The UK delegates were also lucky enough to be taken on a short sightseeing trip around the Gauteng area of South Africa including a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage site the Cradle of Humankind where the fossils of a number of early hominoid species have been found, a lion park, the Voortrekker Monument and the statue of Nelson Mandela at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

UK delegates at the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria (Dr Robert Dawson and Dr Valeska Ting back left and front left)

UK delegates at the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria (Dr Robert Dawson and Dr Valeska Ting back left and front left)

Collaboration with Stellenbosch University

As I was already in South Africa, it was a great opportunity to visit Stellenbosch University in the Western Cape Province to further develop the collaboration already started by Dr Ting from the Department of Chemical Engineering. Dr Ting travelled to Stellenbosch last year on a Global Mobility Scheme award from the International Relations Office.

I was able to continue the collaboration with Professor Len Barbour in Stellenbosch looking at Metal-Organic Frameworks (highly porous crystalline hybrid networks made from a combination of organic linkers and inorganic metal centres) as potential hydrogen storage materials. Professor Barbour and his research group have developed a number of unique characterisation techniques coupling together traditional characterisation methods in order to probe what happens to porous materials when they are under high gas pressures.

In particular we were interested in looking at what happens to our materials when they are under high pressures of hydrogen gas. In the Barbour laboratory they have developed a system to directly measure the heat given off when a material is dosed with different gases using differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). This technique enables us measure the enthalpies of adsorption over a wide pressure range and at different temperatures.

Exploring the town of Stellenbosch

While the experiments were running, I also had a little bit of time to explore Stellenbosch, one of the first European settlements in South Africa as well as its surroundings in the wine region with a short wine tasting session.

A church in Stellenbosch

The church in the centre of Stellenbosch

Street scene in Stellenbosch

Street scene in Stellenbosch

Wine tasting in Stellenbosch

Wine tasting in Stellenbosch

A South African wine farm

A South African wine farm

Having returned to Bath, our task is to analyse our data. The funding from the International Relations Office has proved invaluable to our research here at Bath and we hope to publish the results of our collaboration with Professor Barbour soon.

Dr Robert Dawson is a post-doctoral research associate in the Department of Chemistry working on the use of porous materials for high pressure hydrogen storage tanks with Dr Andrew Burrows (Chemistry) and Dr Tim Mays (Chemical Engineering).

 

Incredible India

📥  Culture, Visit

Nervous students, worried parents, a difficult maths paper, and hot like an oven... All came together for one thing: the dream of studying at the University of Bath. As part of the IRO recruitment team, I spent a few days travelling around India to meet with new students hoping to arrive in September and, as always, India offered some memorable experiences.

A view of Bara Gumbad tomb and mosque, Lodhi Gardens, New Delhi

Bara Gumbad tomb and mosque, Lodhi Gardens, New Delhi

The main point of this trip was to reassure students that their results were enough to meet their offer and to reassure the parents that their children would have accommodation to stay in the UK. Over five days we met with over 200 students in agents' offices, education events and pre-departure evenings at all hours in both New Delhi and Mumbai. Parents are very keen to know the details of their children’s lives as students in the UK, from the dimensions of their rooms to what places they can go to eat.

It was a real treat for me to come and visit India again as I haven’t been for nearly three years. People are always so friendly – our alumni who insisted on taking us for a drink, the concierge who helped us find a suitable venue to enjoy the night life and the hotel driver who made sure I got to all my appointments on time. And of course, our agents who made sure we had everything we needed!

A view of taxi lane in India

Taxi lane in Delhi

India is all about the senses, the food, the colours, and the smells. One thing I particularly love about this place is the tea - being typically British I drink lots of it! India is a place where they know how to make a good cup of tea. I can’t wait to go back!

Delhi street view at night

Delhi street view at night