News & Events
A list of Chemistry Department seminars can be downloaded from the link below.
All seminars take place at 3:30 pm in George Porter Building LTB unless stated otherwise. For more information about a seminar please contact the relevant host (or Dr Shengfu Yang).
Find all of the latest news from the Department of Chemistry here:
Leicester chemistry graduate awarded Women of Influence Guild Scholarship - Emily Durham awarded prestigious scholarship
Research Snippet #1 (Nov 13) - Emma Raven wins discipline hopping award
Science departments win four Athena SWAN Awards - The department of chemistry is one of four University of Leicester science departments to receive Athena SWAN awards
Forensic science expertise at Conference in China - Dr John Bond is part of a team of forensic researchers who have been invited to a conference by the Chinese Government
Congratulations to the class of 2013 - The department celebrates the achievements of this year's graduates
Second Year Chemist Awarded RSC/Nuffield Foundation Undergraduate Summer Research Bursary - Ethan Cunningham receives funding to work in the Ellis group
Leicester Chemist Awarded RSC/Nuffield Foundation Undergraduate Summer Research Bursary - Moses Moustakim receives a bursary to work in the Jamieson group
Leicester chemist wins electrochemistry prize - Greg Forrest wins a prize at the recent Midlands Electrochemistry Group meeting
Leicester atmospheric chemist wins poster prize - Shane Barber wins the college prize at the University's festival of postgraduate research
Leicester Chemistry reaches Guardian top three - The Department of Chemistry climbs eight places in the 2014 Guardian league table for chemistry degree courses
Leicester Professor awarded FLIP funding - Congratulations to Professor Emma Raven who has been awarded funding to exchange knowledge in different research environments.
Leicester chemist is name-dropped in American crime drama - Dr John Bond is mentioned in 'Rizzoli & Isles'
Why does hot water freeze faster than cold water? - Leicester chemist enters RSC competition
Leicester Chemist features in Prestigious Christmas TV lectures - Professor Eric Hope provided his expertise in Fluorine Chemistry to the Royal Institution’s longstanding Christmas lecture series
Video - Reacting Fluorine with Caesium at the University of Leicester - Professor Eric Hope and Dr Peter Wothers react the most reactive metal in the periodic table (Caesium) with the most reactive non-metal (Fluorine).
Leicester wins Highly Commended award for Star Trek-style "Sick Bay" - University of Leicester researchers recognised at the Times Higher Education's 2012 awards
Egg-cellent: egg shell recycling project wins award - Collaboration between University researchers and Leicester food business wins innovation award
Leicester Chemist Wins RSC Prize - Natlie Corden wins RSC 2012 Prize in Analytical Chemistry
CityScan Detects Less Air Pollution Than Expected Over London Olympics - Leicester research group makes surprising finding during London Olympics
Dr Williams awarded University Teaching Fellowship - Dr Dylan P Williams has been awarded a fellowship in recognition of excellence in teaching.
News Archive - for older stories please visit this page.
The Chemistry Department 5-A-Side Football Team celebrated winning the Post Graduate Indoor 5-A-Side Competition. The team consisted of Will Wise, Mark Daniels, Charles Hull, Nick Mayor and the team was captained by Kuldip Singh. To attain this award of a gold medal, the team had to win all their games.
Leicester chemistry undergraduate Victoria Lessen (pictured middle) has won the Royal Society of Chemistry Undergraduate Practical Prize for 2011. These are awarded to students at different East Midlands universities who have obtained the highest practical mark in their first year of their degree course. The Award was presented to Victoria at the Royal Society of Chemistry East Midlands Section AGM held at the E.On Technology Centre on the 10th of March.
Michael Allen (pictured centre), a 2nd year MChem Pharmaceutical Chemistry Student has successfully developed and launched The Business Boot Camp, a new business venture supported by the University of Leicester.
Michael has so far raised over £20,000 to support his idea and on top of this, received a business support package worth £5000 from the University of Leicester through the Enterprise Inc Project. He was driven to launch this new business venture after realising that school did not prepare him for the practical application of business theories in the real world. He therefore set up The Business Boot Camp with the aim of inspiring a new generation of entrepreneurs to develop responsible, sustainable businesses that can make a positive impact in their communities.
Thanks to Michael’s entrepreneurship, other young people aged 18-25 can now learn the essential skill sets required to run their own business. The Boot Camps will involve lectures and workshops given by business leaders who will provide a first-hand insight into the business world and inspire participants to follow their dreams of running their own business.
Places are still available for young entrepreneurs wishing to take part in the programme.
Application forms and more information available at www.ukbizbootcamp.com
Please also see coverage in the Leicester Mercury
Congratulations to Alex Goddard (3rd year Ph.D.), Ann Beresford (2nd year Ph.D.) and Rachel Brown (1st year Ph.D.) from the Hillman research group on winning poster presentation prizes at the 2nd London and South East Student Forensic Conference held at Westminster University. Alex (pictured left) won first prize for his poster entitled “Enhanced Imaging of Fingerprints on Metals by Localised Corrosion”. Ann and Rachel (pictured below) won a runner up prize for their poster entitled “Electrochromic Enhancement of Latent Fingerprints”
The Chemistry department recently held a reception to say goodbye to three long serving members of staff. Ann Crane (pictured left) has worked in the Chemistry Department for 43 years as graphic artist and website officer. Graham Eaton (picture middle) worked as an experimental officer and ran the mass spectrometry service for 34 years. Julie Spence (pictured right) has worked as a department administrator for 28 years.
Dr Andrew Jamieson has been awarded a Nuffield Foundation Undergraduate Research Bursary. The purpose of the awards is to give experience of research to undergraduates with research potential and to encourage them to consider a career in scientific research. The grant will be used to pay Leicester 3rd year undergraduate Kyle Toyne to work in Dr Jamieson’s laboratory over the summer on a research project titled ‘Trapping G-tract RNA With a Biomimetic Nano-Cage: A New Molecular Probe to Investigate the Role of G-Tract Oligonucleotides in Splicing’.
Professor Robert Hillman recently acted as guest editor of the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics (also known as PCCP). This special issue on the theme of "Interfacial processes and mechanisms" celebrated the 75th birthday of Professor Hillman’s DPhil supervisor, John Albery.
The publication coincided with a conference held at Oxford University with a world-class scientific programme including a keynote lecture from the Nobel Laureate Rudy Marcus (pictured left, with Professor Hillman) (awarded in 1992 "for his contributions to the theory of electron transfer reactions in chemical systems")
Two Leicester electrochemists recently won awards for their presentations at the RSC-supported Midlands Electrochemistry Group (MEG) meeting in Warwick. Ann Beresford (pictured right) won an award for her poster and Charlotte Beebee (pictured left) received one for her talk. Fifteen electrochemists from the Abbott, Ryder and Hillman research groups attended the symposium that is held annually.
Dr Andrew Jamieson who joined the chemistry department as a lecturer in August has been awarded a Royal Society Research Grant. A specialist in the synthesis of biomimetics, Dr Jamieson has established a collaboration with Dr Shaun Cowley (Department of Biochemistry) to investigate the substrate specificity of Lysine deacetylase (KDAC) enzymes which are implicated in the growth of cancer cells. The grant will provide state of the art equipment for Dr Jamieson’s laboratory.
First year chemist Leona Osbourne (pictured sitting at the left end of the front row) helped the University of Leicester Women's rugby team to a convincing win against De Montfort University in the Leicester Varsity match last term. The women's team ran out ran out 29-10 winners against DMU at Welford Road, home of the Leicester Tigers. Leona, a first year single-subject chemist, came on as a substitute for the last 15 minutes.
After the game Leona said: "It was a lovely experience and I hope to make the team again next year".
Congratulations to Leicester postgraduate student Shane Barber (pictured) who recently won a poster prize at the "Emerging Analytical Professionals" conference in Kettering. The Royal Society of Chemistry highlighted this conference as an excellent opportunity for early career analytical chemists to continue their professional development and network with other young chemists. Shane won a cash prize for his poster, titled ‘Improving the Sensitivity of Proton Transfer Reaction-Time of Flight-Mass Spectrometry: Hadamard Transform Mass Spectrometry and Radio Frequency Funnel Technology’.
A new fully-funded PhD Studentship position in the Department of Chemistry is currently available:
Novel Photocatalysis - Enhancing Chemical Reactions using Surface Plasmons
Period: 3½ Years, starting 1st October, 2011
A PhD project to work with Dr S. Yang (Department of Chemistry) and Prof. Chris Binns (Department of Physics & Astronomy)
Applicants are invited for a fully-funded 42-months postgraduate studentship in the Department of Chemistry, University of Leicester. This is to join in a world-leading research programme in Nanoscience. The scope of the project will include the synthesis of core-shell and core-multiple shell nanoparticles, their characterization using state-of-the-art microscope and synchrotron measurement and application of novel core-shell nanoparticles in photocatalysis.
Applicants must be motivated and wish to commit to the research programme. He/she should also have an honours degree at 2.1 or 1st class in the field of Physics, Chemistry, Material Science or Nanoscience. The studentship will cover the annual stipend at standard rate and the tuition fee at the UK/EU rate. This post is available for UK/EU candidates ONLY.
You will be supervised by Dr Shengfu Yang (Chemistry) and Prof. Chris Binns (Physics). However, the research team will include other academic staff including Prof. Andy Ellis (Chemistry) and Dr. Klaus von Haeften (Physics). During the full period of the research project, you will also be working with a postdoctoral research associate, Dr. Adrian Boatwright, and other PhD students.
Closing date: 1st July
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Andrew Ellis from the Department of Chemistry was recently promoted to professor of physical chemistry and was invited by the vice-chancellor to present his Inaugural Lecture.
A world expert on laser spectroscopy, Prof. Ellis eloquently described the research carried out in his group during his lecture, titled ‘the light fantastic: using lasers to explore the molecular world’.
He said: “lasers allow us to probe deeply into the bizarre and extraordinary world of atoms and molecules, where quantum mechanics reigns supreme.”
“Applications of our techniques are many and varied, and range from the study of new types of molecules, the development of new concepts in nanotechnology, and the investigation of long-known but highly mysterious phenomena such as superfluidity.”
During his lecture, Prof. Ellis gave a spectacular demonstration of a high-powered laser, in the lecture theatre!
Dr John Bond, Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Chemistry and Forensic Research Centre has been made an OBE in the Queen’s birthday honours. His work into the chemical detection of fingerprints on bullet casings has been widely acclaimed for its use in law enforcement and crime detection.
Dr Bond’s process for identifying 'invisible' fingerprints on brass bullet casings was cited as one of Time Magazine’s top 50 inventions of the year in 2008, and BBC Focus Magazine's inventions 'most likely to change the world' in 2009. The process was also featured on the hit TV show CSI Miami.
In the past four years Dr Bond has published over forty research papers and has taken out eight patents. Some of Dr Bond’s inventions are now commercially available and have been used by law enforcement agencies across the world.
He is currently working closely with Professor Rob Hillman and colleagues in the Department of Chemistry. As part of this work, a three-week residential summer school for undergraduate and postgraduate students CSI: Leicester is taking place from 18 July-6 August. This provides a unique insight into forensic science and its role in criminal justice.
Congratulations to Rob Britton (pictured left), Helen Lewis (pictured centre) and Andrew Jamieson (pictured right) from the Department of Chemistry who completed the Great North Swim in Lake Windermere at the weekend.
Rob is taking part in all five of the British Gas Great Swim series to raise money for Oxfam.
Each is a one mile open water swim in a lake, loch or dock. If you would like to sponsor Rob’s heroic effort, please follow the link to his just giving page (http://www.justgiving.com/robertbritton)
Congratulations to the Class of 2011 who received their exam results on Friday 17th June.
This years prize winners were:
|Hunter Medal & Prize||David Russell
|Dunlop Polymer Engineering Prize||Judy Britton (3rd Year) and Gemma Geary (4th year)|
|Shimadzu Prize||Stephanie Allpress|
|CellTech Prize||Sam Timson|
Congratulations to David Russell (pictured) who won first prize for his research presentation at the Society of Chemical Industry (SCI) Midlands Undergraduate Research Symposium, hosted by Loughborough University. This is an annual symposium organised by SCI to provide a platform for undergraduate students to showcase their research projects. A panel of judges made up of representatives from the event sponsor, Sygnature Chemical Services, assesses the presentations and award prizes.
David’s presentation titled a ‘Universal scaffold for Beta-strand Mimetics’ focused on his 4th year MChem research project carried out in the Jamieson group.
This year the Academic of the Year award goes to Dr Frisch. The John Holloway cup is awarded annually to an academic in the Department of Chemistry for excellence in teaching, as voted by the student body. David Russell, 2011 Hunter Medal winner, presented Dr Frisch with the John Holloway cup on results day.
John Holloway was Professor of Inorganic Chemistry, Head of the Department of Chemistry and Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Leicester. He retired 6 years ago and currently lives in Uppingham.
Professor Emma Raven has been elected onto the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) Council. As a council member, Professor Raven becomes a Trustee of the charity and is responsible for the affairs of the RSC.
The RSC is the largest organisation in Europe for advancing the chemical sciences. Supported by a worldwide network of 47,500 members and an international publishing business, their activities span education, conferences, science policy and the promotion of chemistry to the public.
The RSC council operates at the strategic level, keeping abreast of national and global issues affecting the RSC's operating environment including political and economic trends, developments in science, professional practice and the business environment. It provides direction by setting and keeping under review a strategic plan and allocating resources. In addition it establishes governance structures and processes, delegates authority and monitors conformance.
Emma said “ I have been a member of the RSC since I was an undergraduate and have been involved in a variety of RSC’s activities during the last ten years, especially in respect of those at the chemistry-biology interface, as this overlaps with my research expertise and interests. I have found my involvement with the RSC to be very rewarding as I share the society’s commitment to advance the chemical sciences and its loyalty to its constituent scientific community. As PhD student I was fortunate to benefit from the culture of multidisciplinary research, i.e. research that is not defined by traditional scientific boundaries. Whilst progress has been made in removing administrative barriers to multidisciplinary research during the past 20 years, crossing traditional subject divides is still more difficult than it ought to be. This is one area in which RSC has made progress and where I feel I would be able to make a contribution. I agreed to be nominated when I considered the commitment of recent members RSC Council and wish to make a similar commitment and contribution.”
Dr Jamieson recently launched a new website showcasing his research projects. The website has been designed for potential students and investors to learn about current research projects, news and publications from the group.
The Jamieson group focus on the chemical synthesis of molecular scaffolds that mimic biomolecules such as peptides and proteins. Under the supervision of Dr Jamieson, his group of undergraduate and postgraduate researchers aim to synthesise novel biological probes. It is hoped that this research will give new insights into the mechanisms of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, ultimately leading to novel clinical therapeutics.
Dr Jamieson said “Launching the new website is the first step to raising the profile of the Jamieson group and increasing the impact of our research. In the current economic climate research funding applications are extremely competitive. It’s therefore essential to publicise the Jamieson Research Group and our achievements.”
To find out more about the Jamieson Research Group including opportunities to work in the group visit the website or email Dr Jamieson.
David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science has appointed Professor Paul Monks from the Department of Chemistry to the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).
The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) is the UK's main agency for funding and managing world-class research, training and knowledge exchange in the environmental sciences. It coordinates some of the world's most exciting research projects, tackling major issues such as climate change, environmental influences on human health, the genetic make-up of life on earth, and much more.
NERC receives almost £400 million a year from the government's science budget, which it uses to provide independent research and training in the environmental sciences. It also generates external income from industry, government departments and other bodies.
Council members have corporate responsibility for all NERC's actions and those of its staff. They decide issues such as corporate strategy, key strategic objectives and targets, and major decisions involving the use of financial and other resources.
Professor Monks joins the Council as an academic member for a period of 4 years, effective from 1 August 2011.
Professor Monks said: “I am excited by the challenge offered by this appointment to help shape the future of UK environmental science. NERC delivers excellent environmental research and to be a part of that is important, there is no doubt there are future challenges to deliver excellence with impact.”
Professor Paul Monks is Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Earth Observation Science at the University of Leicester. He studied at the Universities of Warwick and Oxford before working at NASA/Goddard and the UEA in collaboration with CSIRO in Australia. He is a fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society and the Royal Society of Chemistry. In 2004, he was awarded the EU Lillehamer Young Scientist award.
His primary research interests are the scientific questions underlying: the role of photochemistry in the control of atmospheric composition; chemistry and transport, particularly the impact of long-range transport on chemical composition; the feedbacks between climate and atmospheric chemistry; organic complexity and the control of regional pollution and the measurement of tropospheric composition from space. He is also actively involved in knowledge exchange with the forensic, security and health sectors.
Professor Monks is currently chair of DEFRA Air Quality Expert Group (Government Science Advisory Committee on Air Quality, BIS Space Leadership Council (provides high level advice to Space Agency and Government), Co-chair for the IGBP-IGAC project (international program that co-ordinates efforts in global environmental change research, management Committee for ACCENT+ (a EU trans-national network of atmospheric composition scientists) and Co-Chair of Met Office/NERC Scientific Strategy Group for the Joint Weather and Climate Research Program.
The Department of Chemistry recently welcomed students from around the world to a forensic science summer school titled CSI: Leicester.
CSI: Leicester was established in 2009 and is organised by the University of Leicester and Northamptonshire Police. The three-week summer school is designed to give overseas students (mainly from the USA and mainland Europe) an appreciation for the practical and theoretical science that underpins forensics. It also gives the students exposure to the UK education system and provides a different cultural experience.
The course is based around a fictitious crime, which starts from alleged workplace harassment, but escalates to include malicious letters, use of a gun and a house fire. The students, working in investigative "teams", are given evidence / information each day and have to process it and analyse the data. As well as laboratory investigations, the students participate in external visits to a police forensics laboratory as well as the police firearms and dog handling units.
Over the three weeks, they assemble the evidence and make a final presentation that summarizes their findings.
The course was featured on ITV news.
The president of the Royal Society of Chemistry, Professor David Phillips OBE FRSC CChem will visit the department of chemistry on Friday October 7th.
As part of Professor Phillips visit he will give a seminar titled ‘A Little Light Relief’ at 4:15pm in Lecture Theatre A in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.
The Department of Chemistry was strongly represented at this year's Electrochem conference, “Electrochemical Horizons”.
Professor Andy Abbot, Dr Emma Smith, Greg Forrest, Jenny Hartley, Claire Fullarton, Chris Zaleski and Agab Hewas all contributed to the event. Posters were presented by Greg Forrest, Claire Fullarton, Chris Zaleski and Agab Hewas. Greg was successful in winning one of the three poster prizes (pictured right) awarded at the conference. Greg was presented with the “SCI ECTG Enterprise Award 2011” at the city's Roman baths and he will be attending an IP course by Withers & Rogers courtesy of the Society of Chemical Industry (SCI) as part of his prize.
The University of Leicester had a bumper year for oral presentations with Professor Andy Abbott giving a talk entitled “Electrocrystallisation of silver in deep eutectic solvents: and electrochemical kinetic study using real time in-situ holographic imaging”; Jenny Hartley gave a talk on “Ionometallurgy – properties and applications of metal ions in ionic liquids” and finally Emma Smith introduced the “Electrochemical characterisation of mixed poly (pyrrole-thiophene) films immersed in choline chloride based deep eutectic solvents”.
The “Electrochemical Horizons” conference took place on 5-6th September 2011 and was organised by Prof Frank Marken and his team at the University of Bath. Electrochem is a Science and Technology forum for the UK & Ireland electrochemistry community in industry and academia and for the upcoming generation of interdisciplinary researchers.
The Department of Chemistry recently underlined its commitment to developing innovative educational approaches by sharing findings with the educational community at a national conference. Dr Dylan P Williams and Dr Katy McKenzie made significant contributions to the Variety in Chemistry Education 2011 conference, the biggest meeting of university chemistry educators in the UK. The department was also represented by RSC Teacher Fellow Dr Catherine Smith who attended the conference.
Dr Williams gave a talk on day one of the conference titled 'Chemistry Clips: Multimedia resources for supporting student learning in chemistry'. The talk gave details of a project to develop a series of short, focussed multimedia clips which is supported by the University of Leicester's academic practice unit. The innovative resources developed by this project will complement content delivered by traditional means.
Dr McKenzie ran a 2 hour long workshop on day two of the conference titled 'Enhancement of latent fingerprints on metal surfaces developing a context based laboratory'. The workshop was based on recent curriculum development work undertaken by Dr McKenzie which was funded by a development grant from the Higher Education Academy. The workshop showcased new extended investigation experiments on the theme of forensic science and gave participants the opportunity to prepare and enhance their own fingerprints on a number of metal substrates using a range of ionic liquid and aqueous systems. Resources, example data and extensions were shared with delegates including details on how to adapt the experiments for outreach activities.
The Autumn seminar schedule for the Department of Chemistry is now available. The schedule gives details of chemistry seminars until the end of term.
Members of the department’s Chemical Society have been busy organising the first in a series of sixth form lectures aimed at promoting chemistry as a degree subject to local students. The Flash Bang Show will be presented by the University of Manchester’s Dr Sarah Heath at 5 pm on Wednesday 7th December in Bennett Lecture theatre 1 at the University of Leicester.
Refreshments will be provided after the talk with members of ChemSoc available to provide an informal opportunity for sixth form students to ask questions about what it is really like to study for a degree in chemistry.
The lecture is open to academics, current University of Leicester students, visiting sixth form students and friends and family. Everyone is very welcome.†
† £1 admission fee to be paid on the door
Poppy Jones (currently 4rd year MChem Chemistry with a Year in Industry) has won the Royal Society of Chemistry Award in Analytical Chemistry.
The award is presented annually by the RSC on behalf of the Analytical Chemistry Trust to the University of Leicester 3rd year student with the top end of year analytical chemistry exam score.
Poppy is seen being presented with her award certificate and prize (£150) from Andy Abbott, head of the Department of Chemistry.
Two Leicester chemists, Stephen Bradley (level 4) and Ethan Cunningham (Level 1) are to take part in ‘The Maestro Factor’ concert on Friday 2nd December 2011!
Talented students from the University of Leicester will have the chance to conduct a full orchestra at this unique concert. Audience members will then vote on the performances and decide who wins ‘The Maestro Factor’.
If you are interested in supporting Stephen and Ethan, the concert takes place at Fraser Noble Hall at 7.30pm on Friday 2 December. Tickets are available from Embrace Arts on Lancaster Road, tel. 0116 252 2455. For more information, please contact Paul Jenkins.
Paul Monks, Professor of Physical Chemistry, recently presented a keynote lecture at the Rio+20 Regional Science and Technology Workshop for Europe, held in Helsinki, Finland. A recording of the lecture has been uploaded to YouTube.
The Rio+20 Regional Science and Technology Workshop for Europe was held 12-14 October 2011. It was part of the regional workshop series that were organized prior to the intergovernmental Rio+20 preparatory meetings. Regional workshops gave each region's scientific and technological community the opportunity to prepare concerted inputs for the regional preparatory processes, and to discuss their views with policy makers and other key actors. In this way, region-specific scientific knowledge, issues and concerns can be integrated to the Rio+20 Conference to be held 4-6 June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Dr Andrew Jamieson, lecturer in organic chemistry, has been selected to join the Society of Chemical Industry (SCI) Young Chemists' Panel (YCP). The panel, established in 1990, is affiliated with the SCI Fine Chemicals Technical Interest Group and comprises younger members of the chemical community from industry and academia.
YCP's aims and objectives are to provide a forum for discussion and the sharing of information relevant to all aspects of pure and applied synthetic chemistry. In particular, meetings are aimed primarily at less experienced members of the academic and industrial communities through workshop-based residential meetings as well as more traditional one-day conferences.
Andrew Ellis, professor of physical chemistry, has been elected as chairman of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Spectroscopy and Dynamics Group.
The Spectroscopy and Dynamics Group exists to promote the interests of molecular spectroscopists, photochemists and reaction dynamicists, especially those involved in high resolution studies (energy, spatial and/or time) of contemporary problems in chemical physics.
For more information or to join the RSC Spectroscopy and Dynamics Group please visit the group's website.
Andrew Ellis, professor of Physical Chemistry, hosted the Annual Conference of the Royal Society of Chemistry's Spectroscopy and Dynamics interest group on 4-6 January, at the John Foster Hall/Gilbert Murray conference site.
130 delegates from the UK and abroad enjoyed three days of presentations from internationally renowned speakers as well as other activities such as a traditional 'pub quiz' (photo right).
Andrew Ellis, professor of physical chemistry, has been appointed as a visiting Professor at the University of Innsbruck, Austria.
The guest appointment stems from an ongoing collaboration between professor Ellis and professor Paul Scheier at the Institute of Ion Physics. Their collaborative research involves the investigation of ions, both anions and cations, in liquid helium nanodroplets and has lead to several publications.
Professor Ellis’s first contribution at the University of Innsbruck was to give a lecture course on “Experimental and Computational Spectroscopy” to graduate physics students.
As part of the University of Leicester’s commitment to world-class research, funding has become available for three doctoral studentships that will start October 2012.
Investigating the Structure and Function of Histone Deacetylase (HDAC) Enzymes Using Chemical Probes: New Tools to Investigate the Role of HDACs in Cancer.
Supervisors: Dr Andrew Jamieson and Prof. John Schwabe (Department of Biochemistry)
Formation and Spectroscopy of Noble Gas Compounds in Helium Droplets
Supervisors: Prof. Andrew Ellis, Dr Shengfu Yang, and Dr Corey Evans.
Quantifying the whiff of death for forensic science
Supervisors: Prof Paul S. Monks and Dr. John Bond
For further information regarding the research projects and how to apply for these studentships please visit the PhD vacanies page of this website.
Congratulations to Andrew Abbott (Professor of Physical Chemistry and head of department) and Katy McKenzie (former Abbott group postdoctoral researcher and currently undergraduate laboratory manager) for making the top 25 most-read Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics (PCCP) articles from 2011, with their research paper ‘Application of ionic liquids to the electrodeposition of metals’.
The University of Leicester is involved in a pioneering national pilot that will make use of cutting-edge technology in a science lab.
A group of organic chemistry students from the Department of Chemistry will be taking part in the Electronic Laboratory Notebooks (ELNs) pilot. This is part of an EPSRC funded Dial-a-Molecule Grand Challenge that seeks to promote research aimed at a step change in the ability to deliver synthetic molecules quickly and efficiently.
Dr Andrew Jamieson, lecturer in organic chemistry, who will coordinate the pilot at Leicester, said “ELNs are the most cutting edge technology available for recording experimental data. It is therefore very exciting for Leicester students to be involved in the development of this technology from the outset.”
Sixteen UK universities have been selected to take part in the pilot that will take place from April until September, 2012. During the pilot the students will trial cutting edge computer software designed to replace paper lab books.
Dr Jamieson expanded: “The development of this software will allow students to use electronic tablets such as iPads to record their experimental results and paper lab books will become a thing of the past.”
The link address is: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leicestershire-17601695
On Friday 23rd March 2012, the University of Leicester Chemistry Society, in conjunction with the Engineering Society, held a charity ball in aid of Alzheimer’s Research UK and Save the Children. The event was held in The Underwood Suite at Welford Road Stadium, home of the Leicester Tigers. The evening, which was attended by both students and academics, went fantastically well with over one hundred tickets sold.
The guests were treated to an excellent two course buffet-style meal with entertainment provided by magician John Constantine as well as DJ Jamie Taylor and singer Zoe George, both of whom are students at the university and members of the Chemistry Society. Following the dinner there was a raffle; prizes had been generously donated by various local businesses and all money made from the sale of tickets was split evenly between the two charities.
Another key part of the evening was the announcement of the Chemistry Society committee election results. Members who wished to run for a position on the 2012/2013 committee had nominated themselves and voting had then been open for a week to the rest of the society. The ball provided a superb chance to announce the results and congratulations go to all of the new committee members, including Charlotte Ashworth and Chris Smith who were elected President and Vice President respectively. Following the election results, Jamie Taylor ended the night with disco.
Money raised from the event enabled the society to provide a donation of £200 to each of the charities, a result we are delighted with. On this note, a big thanks go to everyone who helped make the evening a success; the local businesses for donating the prizes, Jamie, Zoe and John for excellent entertainment, Welford Road stadium for the superb venue, food and bar, the charities for providing free promotional material, the Chemistry Department academics who provided a baby picture for a ‘guess the lecturer’ game, Instantpix for providing high-quality professional photographs, the rest of the current committee for all of their hard work and dedication, and finally to everyone who turned up and made the event an evening to remember.
Chemistry Society Social Secretary
The link address is: http://www.thereaction.net/explore/from-test-tube-to-turner/
The link address is: http://blogs.rsc.org/cp/2012/05/18/enhancing-fingerprints-with-electrochromism/
Dr Jamieson, Centre for Chemical Biology, has been awarded an Innovation Fellowship. The fellowship was awarded for the development of synthetic molecules that mimic the structure and function of proteins. These proteomimetic molecules are used by the group to disrupt protein-protein interactions implicated in Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.
Innovation Fellowships, funded by HEFCE, are competitive awards to develop the commercial potential of academic research and offer funding of £10,000 to each successful project. The key is commercialisation of ideas, products or processes, and the funding aims to help academic researchers reach out into the world of business and industry in spin-out companies or collaborative research ventures that may lead to commercial investment or contracts.
Dr Jamieson commented: “With the funding from the Innovation Fellowship we will employ a chemist over the summer to look at the potential of this new technology. We will then collaborate with industrial partners to look for ways to exploit it.”
Congratulations to Leicester PhD student Kathryn Pugh who won a poster prize at the RSC Organic Chemistry Midlands Section Meeting in Warwick.
This annual meeting of the RSC Organic Midlands section is always well represented by the department and this year was no exception. Dr Robert Britton gave a presentation on his current research on Affinity chromatography and LC-MS/MS: Identification of protein targets of resveratrol.
In addition to this, 15 postgraduate students from the organic and synthesis sections presented posters of their research. Kathryn, who works in the research group of Professor Paul Cullis, won a prize for her poster, titled An Integrated Chemical-biological Approach to Unravelling Malaria Cell Signalling Pathways.
Dr Dylan P Williams has been awarded a University Teaching Fellowship. The University of Leicester awards Teaching Fellowships to promote, reward and celebrate excellence in teaching and related activities that support and enhance the Leicester student experience.
During the 2011-12 academic year Dr Williams has been working on a variety innovative approaches to teaching which have included the development of multimedia learning resources and the development of a new series of problem based learning (PBL) case studies which have been used in year 1 and 2 courses.
This is the fifth time a Leicester chemistry academic has been awarded a University Teaching Fellowship:
2012 Dr Dylan P Williams
2011 Dr Katy J McKenzie
2010 Dr Dai Davies
Congratulations to the class of 2012 who were awarded their degree certificates by Vice Chancellor Professor Sir Robert Burgess last week. The degree congregation took place at De Montfort Hall on the morning of Thursday July 12th. The congregation was followed by a reception in the Department of Chemistry (see image below) which included the award presentations to graduating prize winners.
The Department of Chemistry would like to offer its congratulations to all of our graduating students.
This year's prize winners were:
|Prize||Name of winner|
|Dunlop Polymer Prize||Victoria Lessen|
|Dunlop Polymer Prize||Mussa Quareshy|
|RSC Prize in Analytical Chemistry||Natalie Corden|
|Hunter Medal||Victoria Lessen|
|Celltech Prize||Annelies Sap|
|Treatt and Earthoil (Shimadzu Prize)||Katherine Montgomery|
Congratulations to University of Leicester chemistry undergraduate student Natalie Corden who was recently awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry 2012 Prize in Analytical Chemistry. Natalie was presented with her prize by head of department, Professor Andrew Abbott.
The link address is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLOFaWdPxB0
Dr Li Liu has recently been awarded a Daphne Jackson Trust Fellowship to support herself as a postdoctoral fellow exploring the use of breath measurements for the rapid diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Dr Liu is jointly sponsored by the University of Leicester and the Daphne Jackson Trust, the first postdoctoral fellow at the University to be appointed under this scheme. The Daphne Jackson Trust is an independent charity which offers flexible, part-time, paid fellowships to scientists, engineers and technologists who have taken a career break of two or more years for family, caring or health reasons. This fellowship scheme complements the Athena Swan Charter of which the University is a bronze award holder. Athena Swan seeks to promote and retain women academics in the sciences and the Daphne Jackson Trust provides one route to achieving this.
Dr Liu obtained her PhD degree from the University of Rochester in the US in 2007, where she studied the intricate details of chemical reactions using molecular beam techniques and density functional theory calculations. She moved to the UK with her husband and has lived in Coalville for the past 5 years. The couple have a child, Emma, who has recently started school, an event which has provided the opportunity for Dr Liu to return to science after a substantial hiatus.
Dr Liu, who is working with Professors Andrew Ellis and Paul Monks in the Department of Chemistry, aims to use a technique known as proton transfer reaction mass spectrometry to try to identify molecular constituents in human breath which might act as biomarkers for pancreatic and other forms of cancer. This work will involve collaboration with colleagues in the Department of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine, including Dr Chris Neal and Professor Maggie Manson.
"Does hot water freeze faster than cold?" At first sight this would seem to be a ridiculous question – almost everyone would expect cold water to freeze faster.
However, some 40 years ago an African boy called Erasto Mpemba noticed that ice cream would often freeze faster when cooled from a high starting temperature rather than letting the mixture cool to ambient temperature. Mentioning this effect to his teacher, he was immediately mocked for the ridiculousness of such an observation and that he should move on to more scientific studies. However the boy did not accept the rebuff and with persistence managed to persuade the teacher to do the science, only this time with water. The effect, now called the Mpemba effect, turned out to be real. This exposed what was thought to be a serious flaw, or so it was thought, in our understanding of the thermal properties of water.
In June 2012 the Royal Society of Chemistry sought an answer to this question. The idea was to allow the public to submit an answer within four weeks of issuing a call for explanations, regardless of format or scientific training. Anyone could answer using any online media from anywhere in the world. The response was overwhelming with more than 22,000 entries from as far afield as Bolivia, Australia and Uzbekistan. Using genetic algorithms and a crack panel of scientists the RSC finally narrowed the entries down to the top twenty with the most original and scientific explanation. Among the final twenty is a second year undergraduate student from the University of Leicester, Adam Smith, who entered the competition as part of a summer project he was doing in the Department of Chemistry working with Dr Adrian Boatwright, Dr Shengfu Yang, and Professor Andrew Ellis. The Final winner will be announced at The Chemistry Centre at the Royal Society of Chemistry in London on the 10th of January 2013 and the twenty finalists have been invited to this award ceremony.
The link address is: http://www.rmets.org/atmospheric-science-hospital-environment
The link address is: https://swww2.le.ac.uk/departments/chemistry/research/postdoctoral-opportunities
New PhD vacancy - Characterising the Coalescence Dynamics of Aerosol Droplets Using Laser Techniques and Mathematical Modelling
Due to overwhelming demand, we have arranged a new UCAS Visit Day on Wednesday 17th April. Please book your Visit Day on 17th April now.
The link address is: http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/news/people-skills-training/2013/130109-n-new-awards-flip.aspx?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+bbsrc+%28BBSRC+-+News+stories+and+features%29
Rob Britton (and Professor Karen Brown) has been awarded a Wellcome Trust Biomedical Vacation Scholarship with Sam Godfrey (3rd year undergraduate chemist). These prestigious scholarships are awarded to undergraduate students to work in a research lab over the summer to encourage them to become research scientists.
Resveratrol is a naturally occurring compound that is found in red wine, grapes, peanuts and berries and it has numerous health benefit claims including heart protection, cancer prevention and life extension. Despite all these claims, the underlying mechanism of resveratrol’s effects has not been proved. Resveratrol ‘works’, but how does it work? We aim to use resveratrol as a bait to catch and identify the proteins in our body that interact and bind to resveratrol. We will attach resveratrol to an insoluble support/ bead, then bath the beads with proteins extracted from human derived cells. We can gently wash away the proteins that don’t interact with resveratrol and then remove the proteins that have formed interactions and then identify them by their mass and amino acid sequence using mass spectrometry. These interacting proteins will then be studied to determine if the protein is important in a given disease and if resveratrol affects its function. This information is vital in understanding how resveratrol works and will help determine how and why we develop diseases such as cancers.
The Department of Chemistry at the University of Leicester has risen to third place in the Guardian University guide Chemistry league table. The eight place rise reflects the very high levels of student satisfaction with the quality of the teaching and with the courses on offer in addition to the excellent employability rating. The Guardian’s top 5 chemistry degree courses are shown below (with last year’s position shown in brackets):
(4) St Andrews
The University of Leicester also climbed up the overall Guardian university league table from 19th position in 2012-13 to 13th position in 2013-14.
Congratulations to Greg Forrest (a PhD student in the department’s Materials and Interfaces group) on winning first prize for a talk he gave at this years’ Midlands Electrochemistry Group Meeting (MEG) on the 17th April. Greg’s talk was titled "Immersion Coatings from Deep Eutectic Solvent, Precious Metal Coatings of Copper" and covered a number of experimental techniques used in his research including, cyclic voltammetry, quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS).
As a consequence of winning this prize, Greg has been invited to present the same talk at the Electrochemistry 2013 national conference.
Third year MChem student Moses Moustakim has been awarded an RSC/Nuffield Foundation research bursary to work in the Jamieson group for an eight week period. These research bursaries are designed to give undergraduate chemists a chance at gaining some ‘hands on’ wet laboratory experience at a research level and ideally encourage them to consider a career in scientific research. The bursaries are highly competitive with only 35 out of 240 applicants being awarded the grant in 2013.
The project will be based on the synthesis of novel peptides for use as enzyme inhibitors in the HDAC series of enzymes, some of which have been suspected to play a role in the biochemistry of Alzheimer’s disease and some forms of cancer.
Second year MChem student Ethan Cunningham has been awarded an RSC/Nuffield Foundation research bursary to work in the Ellis group over the summer. These research bursaries are designed to give undergraduate chemists a chance at gaining some ‘hands on’ laboratory experience at a research level and ideally encourage them to consider a career in scientific research. The bursaries are highly competitive with only 35 out of 240 applicants being awarded the grant in 2013. Ethan is one of two Leicester chemists who were awarded RSC/Nuffield bursaries this year (please see this story about Moses Moustakim).
The project will be based on a novel approach to the growth of metal nanoparticles in helium nanodroplets which involves using lasers to get metal atoms into the gas phase. Ethan will have access to research level equipment to undertake this study, including the use of mass spectrometry to monitor the formation and growth of nanoparticles in helium nanodroplets.
Congratulations to the class of 2013 who were awarded their degree certificates by Vice Chancellor Professor Sir Robert Burgess last week. The degree congregation took place at De Montfort Hall on the morning of Thursday July 11th. The congregation was followed by a reception in the Department of Chemistry (see image below) which included the award presentations to graduating prize winners.
The Department of Chemistry would like to offer its congratulations to all of our graduating students.
This year's prize winners were:
|Prize||Name of winner|
|Dunlop polymer prize (MChem)||Andrew Warner|
|Dunlop polymer prize (BSc)||Thing Thing Goh|
|Hunter Medal||Andrew Warner|
|Celltech Prize||Shazmeen Hansrod|
|Treatt and Earthoil Plantations Prize||Natalie Corden|
Medical diagnostics, the value of nature - Listen to the Planet Earth Online interview with Professor Paul Monks.
Leicester Biological Chemist Wins Poster Prize - Congratulations to Kathryn Pugh on her recent poster prize.
Enhancing fingerprints with electrochromism - Read the RSC blog post on a new method for enhancing latent fingerprints on metal surfaces developed here at the Department of Chemistry.
Professor Abbott gives lecture on the role of the chemist in art - Watch a full recording of Prof Abbott's recent talk at the Royal Society of Chemistry.
Chemsoc ball raises £400 for charity - The charity ball organised by the Chemistry and Engineering societies raised £400 for Save the Children and Alzheimer's Research UK.
Pioneering ‘Lab of the Future’ to be piloted at University of Leicester - Leicester Chemistry students to take part in national pilot
Chemistry like it's meant to be: flashes, bangs and explosions - Dr Catherine Smith hosts a thrilling demonstration lecture for a local school
Ph.D. Studentships available starting October 2012 - Three new studentships available in the Department of Chemistry
Leicester hosts Spectroscopy and Dynamics conference - The department's Spectroscopy and Dynamics group hosts a major RSC conference
Leicester chemists enter The Maestro Factor - Two undergraduate chemistry students are to conduct the University's Orchestral Society
Poppy Jones Wins the 2010/2011 RSC Award in Analytical Chemistry - Leicester MChem student scoops RSC prize
Leicester to host The Flash Bang Show - The Flash Bang Show is coming to the University of Leicester on December 7th.
Prestigious award combines University innovations with design know-how Design Council Award will help transform four academic projects into viable commercial products
Innovative educational approaches showcased at national conference Department underlines its commitment to developing innovative educational approaches
Leicester chemists make major contribution to Electrochem conference The Department was strongly represented at this year's Electrochem conference
RSC President to visit Department of Chemistry Professor David Phillips OBE BSc PhD CSci CChem FRSC to visit the University of Leicester in October
Students join CSI: Leicester for forensic summer school International students attend forensic summer school at the University of Leicester
Earth observation for science, society and services Prof Paul Monks published in Science in Parliament journal.
Professor Raven Elected onto the RSC council Leicester professor elected onto Royal Society of Chemistry council
Dr Frisch wins the John Holloway Academic of the Year award - Congratulations to Dr Frisch for winning the 2011 John Holloway award
Leicester Chemist Wins SCI Award Congratulations to David Russell
Final Year Results 2011 Find out who won prizes this year!
Leicester Chemists Complete Great North Swim Dr Rob Britton, Dr Andrew Jamieson and Helen Lewis take part in charity swim.
Leicester Forensic Chemist Recognised in the Queen’s Birthday honours Dr John Bond receives OBE
Professor Ellis’s Inaugural Lecture goes with a BANG! - The Light Fantastic: Using Lasers to Explore the Molecular World’
Keep Up to Date! Find out more about other ways to keep up to date with the department of chemistry.
New PhD Studentship Available - Closing date - 1st July 2011
Leicester Poster Prize Winners at Forensic Conference - Three of our PhD. students are celebrating success at a forensic conference
Leicester Chemist Launches Business Boot Camp - Leicester chemistry undergraduate Michael Allen has launched a Business Boot Camp for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Leicester Chemist Wins RSC Undergraduate Practical Prize - Leicester chemistry undergraduate Victoria Lessen has won a RSC Practical Prize for 2011.
Sampling the Atmosphere and Tracking Pollution - The RONOCO Campaign - podcast by Dr Karen Hornsby
A Periodic Table display has been installed in the foyer of the department with samples of the elements on display - except the radioactive ones!
Pictures of the celebration after graduation, July 2010
This meeting was designed to bring together electrochemistry groups from local universities and provides an opportunity for postgraduate researchs to gain experience talking about their work. Ann Beresford of the Chemistry Department won the prize for 'Best Oral Presentation'.
The University’s Real-time Air Fingerprinting Technology (RAFT) idea was the first to be posted to the East Midlands Development Agency’s (emda) new, online innovation Exchange (iExchange) service.
The researchers have developed ionic liquids solvents which provide a safe, non-toxic, environmentally friendly alternative to harmful solutions. These new liquids can act as “drop-in” replacement technology, and perform as well as, or even better than, existing processes.
'Bullet fingerprinting' technology developed at the University of Leicester in collaboration with Northamptonshire Police is now being advanced in new ways.
Can satellite data can help to manage traffic? Prof Monk's group at Leicester will provide earth-observation satellite data as well as ground-based environmental sensors to monitor air quality in this joint project with DeMontfort University.
PhD students in the department of chemistry had an opportunity to present their research to their peers at the annual Chemistry PhD Student Research Event on Wednesday 24th July. The event included a series of oral presentations from final year students and a poster presentation session where students in their penultimate year of study could present their latest findings. The students presented some excellent science and, as always, the presentations stimulated some interesting discussion between members of different groups.
The department would like to congratulate the following students who all received prizes for their contributions to the event:
- Robert Weinmeister “Microfluidics – single-molecule fluorescence from micrometre sized droplets” (Oral presentation)
- Rachel Sapstead (nee Brown) “A Study of the Fluorescent-Electrochromic Enhancement of Latent Fingerprints using 3-(pyrrol-1-yl)propylamine (PyNH2) by Neutron Reflectivity” (Oral presentation)
The image above is a 3D optical microscope image of part of a fingerprint. It shows the fingerprint ridges (as light areas) and the deposited polymer (as dark areas). The dark “dots” in the light areas are the gaps left by sweat pores that have been filled by polymer; this is so-called third level detail. The main point to note is a ridge that starts are the bottom right and runs diagonally up and to the left, terminating as a “ridge ending” (an example of second level detail, that might be used as part of an identification) in the centre of the image.
- Gemma Geary “Electrophilic Fluorination Using a Hypervalent Iodine Reagent Derived from Fluoride” (Poster Presentation 1st prize)
- Dan Spence “Novel Nanoparticles: Synthesis in Helium Nanodroplets” (Poster Presentation runner up)
Dr Jamieson recently visited the Paterson Institute in Manchester to present his groups internationally recognised research on the design and synthesis of peptidomimetics.
The Paterson Institute is part funded by Cancer Research UK to develop novel molecules for use in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
Dr Jamieson said "our research focuses on the design and synthesis of molecular tools that can be used to better understand the mechanisms of cancer. This information can be vital for the initiation of drug development programmes by institutions such as the Paterson Institute".
Baroness Verma, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change visits Department of Chemistry
The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Baroness Verma visited the Department of Chemistry on Friday 20th September to discuss fracking with Paul Monks, Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Earth Observation Science.
Emma Raven wins discipline hopping award
Professor Emma Raven has won a BBSRC Flexible Interchange Programme (FLIP) award. These awards offer individuals the chance to move between different organisations, disciplines and sectors in all stages in their careers.
Emma from the University of Leicester’s chemistry department has been awarded funding to exchange knowledge in different research environments and at the Research Complex at Harwell.
The interchange will enable the development of a detailed picture of heme's role as a regulatory molecule within cells. Heme is the form of iron employed in many biological systems, most famously in hemoglobin. Understanding its role in regulation is a complex biological puzzle that will require a multidisciplinary effort across many areas of science.
For more details of awards see http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/news/people-skills-training/2013/130109-n-new-awards-flip.aspx and Prof Raven’s research pages http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/chemistry/people/academic-staff/emma_raven
The Leicester chemistry group led by Profs Abbott and Ryder has used a novel kind of imaging technique to study, at nanometer scale the in-situ formation of individual crystal nuclei during an electrochemical deposition process. Electrochemical deposition underpins many high-tech surface-coating processes in automotive, aerospace and electronics industries. The group have used holographic imaging to study the growing surface submerged in a Deep Eutectic Solvent type ionic liquid electrolyte. These electrolytes, formulated from ethylene glycol, urea and choline chloride are a Leicester innovation. Recently Ionic Liquids were voted the UK innovation most likely to shape the 21st Century (Chemistry World, May 2013, 10(5)).
For more details see http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ac400262c
Listen to the recent BBC radio interview of Professor Paul Monks with BBC Leicester’s Ben Jackson on the BBC iPlayer (the interview occurs at around 15.10).
This clip will be available until 22nd November 2013
Fingerprints continue to play an integral part in the detection of a wide range of criminal offences and often require a set of elimination fingerprints from victims of crime. These elimination sets are taken on paper by an inked impression of the fingers and palm. The use of ink requires a degree of preparation such as washing and drying the donor’s hands and, during the printing process, ensuring that neither too little nor too much ink is applied to the hands.
John Bond from the Department of Chemistry, here at Leicester, has developed a twenty-first century replacement by producing inkless finger and palm impressions on thermochromatic paper by incorporating a protic solvent (butylene glycol) into a base hand cream mixture, which is rubbed into the hands for 30 s before donation. This requires no washing of the hands before or after donation, removing many of the difficulties associated with inked impressions. In a random trial of 50 male and 50 female participants (mean age 41 years), 96 found the hand cream pleasant and easy to use and all produced identifiable finger and palm impressions. Following donation, participants continued to rub the hand cream into their hands. Impressions were visible immediately after donation and have not exhibited fading two years after being taken. This technology is currently the subject of user trials in West Midlands.
Resveratrol is a phytochemical present in the skin of red grapes and hence red wine as well as a variety of berries and nuts. It is an anti-oxidant, which has shown cancer chemo-preventive properties. One of the difficulties of using resveratrol as an anti-cancer agent is that it is rapidly metabolised. Researchers in Leicester chemistry, led by Dr. Rob Britton and Dr. Paul Jenkins have looked at whether systematically replacing phenol moieties with hydroxymethyl and/or methoxy groups (R in figure) would retain the anticancer properties but with a slower rate of loss due to metabolism. Four of the new analogue inhibited the growth of cancer cells, but with much less potency than resveratrol.
Professor Monks is giving a talk to 800 GCSE students in London on the “Whiff of Death”. The talk is aimed at giving students an insight into the role of chemistry in forensic science and will look at smelling out crime. More details of research available at http://www2.le.ac.uk/centres/forensic-science/research/innovation-and-research including video
Along with colleagues in Genetics (Prof C Kyriacou) and Biochemistry (Profs P Moody, J Schwabe), Emma Raven has won £0.53M from BBSRC to study the role of heme iron in circadian rhythm. The 24 hour circadian clock is the fundamental internal timekeeping system that generates daily rhythms of behaviour, physiology and metabolism in nearly all higher organisms. The aim of the project is to build a detailed, molecular-level picture of how heme regulates control of circadian function, by looking at heme structure and mechanism, gene regulation, and using molecular genetics techniques.
Paul Cullis, professor of biological chemistry, finished the term with a BIG BANG. During the re-creation of a popular You Tube video 1200 ping pong balls were exploded from a dustbin using liquid nitrogen to demonstrate the power of liquid to gas transition. The event was arranged to raise money for Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation.
Amphotericin B (1) is a powerful but toxic drug used for over fifty years against serious fungal infections (with no sign of resistance) and more recently, to treat leishmaniases (a ‘neglected’ disease of the Third World). There is serious concern about the continuing effectiveness of antibiotics due to the rapid development of resistance by microorganisms. Despite over fifty years of clinical use, there is no sign of resistance to 1, however its toxicity restricts its use. Synthetic chemists have developed derivatives such as MFAME (2) that retain activity with reduced toxicity, but are be far too expensive for clinical use. Dr Patrick Caffrey (University College, Dublin) and Dr. Bernard Rawling’s group in Leicester have a long term research programme to use synthetic biology to develop the in vivo production of clinically affordable analogues with reduced toxicity.
In a recent paper (‘Engineered Biosynthesis of Disaccharide-Modified Polyene Macrolides’, E. De Poire, N. Stephens, B. Rawlings and P. Caffrey, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 2013, 79(19), 6156-6159), we have identified 3, an analogue of 1 with an additional sugar that is structurally reminiscent of the effective synthetic analogue. Current studies are focussed on isolation, full characterisation and further biological studies on 3.
The latest edition of the department of chemistry's research newsletter is now available
Superfluid helium is one of the strangest known materials. Existing only at temperatures near to absolute zero (-273 °C), it has properties that are dominated by the counterintuitive world of quantum mechanics. At Leicester we explore the properties of nanoscale-sized droplets of superfluid liquid helium and one aim is to grow metal nanoparticles inside these droplets. In a recent experiment an attempt was made to inject aluminium atoms into the droplets by a violent process known as laser ablation. To our surprise the aluminium atoms separate into two groups: electronically cold atoms that go inside the helium droplet and a second group of highly excited atoms that float on the surface of the droplet. These two types of Al atoms were distinguished using laser spectroscopy. The separation of cold and excited metal atoms is a potentially new way of transporting and exploring exotic states of matter, such as Rydberg atoms.
This work is a joint investigation between the universities of Leicester and Nottingham and includes contributions from Prof. Andrew M. Ellis, Dr Shengfu Yang, Dr Gautam Sarma, Dr Adrian Boatwright, Ethan Cunningham (all Leicester), Prof. Tony Stace, Jay Jeffs, Louise Rimmer and Nick Besley (all Nottingham).
Ultraviolet spectra of aluminium atoms floating on a superfluid helium nanodroplets).
An aluminium atom sat on the surface of a small cluster of helium atoms.