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The University of Sheffield’s Chemistry News Team

Issue 1 : March 2014

WOMEN IN SCIENCE With the Faculty of Science and the Department applying for the Athena SWAN Silver Award, we take a closer look at how women are represented in Chemistry both globally and in Sheffield

RESEARCH INSIGHTS

INTERNATIONAL CHEMISTRY

GREEN MINDED TECHNICIANS

Take a peek inside the minds of Professors Fowler and Hunter, and their latest adventures

We explore the Department’s global connections and the ways in which they have grown

Discover how the Department is saving the planet, one energy reducing solution at a time.


Resonance is a new biannual newsletter produced by Chemistry students at the University of Sheffield. It aims to provide insights into unheard stories from the Department and University, and to engage you with issues in the wider scientific world. The current team consists of nine undergraduate chemists and one science communicator. It is the first group of students to produce media content for and about the Department since the 1990’s. Team members and contributing authors: Heather Carson, Lucy Stone, Michaela Fitzpatrick-Milton, Maya Singer Hobbs, Cate O’Brien, Friederike Danheim, Gobika Chandrakumar Design: Kieran Chadwick

Editor: Alex Stockham

Editor’s Letter Science isn’t just about theory, research and the pursuit of knowledge. It’s a social activity; a complex network of people and organisations with ideas and opinions. I believe that science should be open to debate and questioning, but for this to happen it’s vital that everyone takes the opportunity to communicate with people outside and inside the department. All too often boundaries are constructed between peer groups, and this prevents people sharing their thoughts and questions. By providing insight into some of the incredible things that happen in the Department, we hope to engage your curiosity to ask more questions, and help break down the barriers restricting conversation. The dedication and creativity shown by the team in producing the newsletter has been astounding. It’s great to know what hidden talents lie within our ranks. We’re grateful for the cooperation of staff members who contributed their time and support, and would like thank all those involved. In this first issue we present you with news, events, and stories from the Department and wider world. Our cover feature looks at how gender inequalities are being addressed within the Department and University – an important issue which needs to be resolved across the sciences. We also bring you features on the Department’s international connections, and its drive to be more environmentally responsible. 2

Resonance, March 2014

Secretary: Jenna Spencer-Briggs

A note from Dr Jones When the Department introduced the Skills for Success course in 2012, I thought it would be a good opportunity to have a news-team project for students who were interested in communicating science. In retrospect, there were a couple of important things that I didn’t fully appreciate at the time. The first was a rather overlooked wealth of experience and creativity that our students possess; with my group producing something that would not have looked out of place on a newsstand. The second was the potential to use such a medium to strengthen our learning community in the Department, by encouraging a better understanding of the day-to-day roles and activities that we all carry out. Thus, I wondered whether it would it be possible to set-up a voluntary news-team in the Department who could produce something on a biannual basis. Having convinced myself that this was a good thing to do, I was fortunate enough that my ideas were shared by one of my students. It is a testament to Alex’s drive and enthusiasm that we now have a fully-fledged news team encompassing students from all years of our degree programmes. Of course, this is the just the first issue. The team are already busy collating information for their second issue. If you have any interesting ideas for stories or articles, or want to become part of this team, then please do get in touch with them.


Resonance News

A cross-section of events within the Department and University New Polymer Centre for Department A Centre for Doctoral Training in Polymers, Soft Matter and Colloids is set to integrate into the Chemistry Department. Led by Professor Steve Armes, the centre will provide opportunities for students to obtain PhDs through carrying out multidisciplinary research related to industry and technology. The polymer facility will be one of three new centres in Sheffield which are being created as part of a nationwide initiative funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

ChemSoc Netball Going Strong Who said scientists can’t be great athletes? Not this year’s ChemSoc netball teams! Not only have more people got involved this year, but both have had great success in their respective leagues. The Thursday team ranks 3rd, and the Tuesday team has recently risen into 2nd – having only been beaten by a team of University players. Students from all levels of the Department are involved in ChemSoc’s sports teams. Interested in playing? It’s not too late to join! Get in contact with Matt Derry at: chp12md@sheffield.ac.uk

2014 Promotions This spring, a record-breaking number of academics have been promoted. Dr. Beining Chen has become the Department’s second female Professor under the newly created title; ‘Professor of Medicinal Chemistry’. Dr. Mark Winter has been honoured with a Professorship for his innovative research and work on electronic resources. Dr. Jenny Burnham and Dr. Julie Hyde have been promoted to Senior University Teachers for their constructive contributions to teaching and learning. Dr. David Williams and Dr. Anthony Meijer have been promoted to Readers in recognition of their original and internationally renowned research.

A thousand school children were treated to the first unveiling of a human-sized artificial plant at the annual Animal and Plant Sciences Christmastime lecture. RoboPlant, as it is better known, was developed over the summer by a team of undergrads and academics from chemistry, biology, physics and engineering. It was used as the lecture’s centrepiece to transform the sun’s energy into fuels; replicating photosynthesis and demonstrating that the energy which powers our lives comes from the sun.

ChemSoc Charity Success Students from the Chemistry Society raised £326.54 for Children in Need at a cake sale in November. The cakes were supplied by staff and students from the Department, and were all devoured within four hours. “It’s great to see so many people from around the Department get involved and help raise money for a good cause”, said Joe Lovett, Chair of ChemSoc.

More can be found on the Department’s newsfeed: www.shef.ac.uk/chemistry /about/departmental_news One of the two champion ChemSoc netball teams

APS Reveal RoboPlant

RoboPlant in action, Octagon December 2013

Dr. Jim Thomas is HOT! A research paper led by Dr. James Thomas was certified as the hottest article in the Chemical Science journal in November. The research explored the binding of a fluorescent ruthenium complex to the DNA of specific structures within eukaryotic cells. It is hoped that the new complex can be used for cell imaging applications, or potentially as an anti-cancer agent. (Chem. Sci., 2013, 4, 4512-19)

Resonance, March 2014

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Women in Science It’s well known that women are a minority in science, but moves to balance out these inequalities are gaining momentum across the country. With the Faculty and the Department applying for the Athena SWAN Silver Award, Cate O’Brien and Maya Singer-Hobbs took a closer look at how women are represented in Chemistry both globally and in the Department. The lack of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects can be traced back to the distribution of students entering University as undergraduates. Data obtained from the Chemistry Department shows that over the past seven years only 40% of undergraduate applicants are women. Although this does equate to a 40% intake and a similar percentage graduating, there are even less in postdoctoral and academic positions. In fact, a comparative decrease in the number of women enrolling in PhD programmes has been observed over the last seven years. Despite numerous studies into why these imbalances are present, there have been no clear conclusions. One suggestion is that a lack of women in STEM subjects is due to societal expectations rather than an inherent lack of interest. Further up the academic ladder, it is thought that lifestyle choices have a negative impact on women in science; often they are inclined to make a choice between a career and a family, not realising the possibility of managing both. Yet, there is optimism that things might be changing in Sheffield. A study conducted by Resonance

found that 59% of female, and 68% of male undergraduates in the Chemistry Department are considering a PhD. With over half of female students thinking about continuing their scientific education, could this indicate the beginning of a change in attitudes of and towards women in chemistry? The increased interest of women wanting to continue their studies is something that the Faculty is hoping to nurture through initiatives such as Athena SWAN. The dissemination of change is often slow; the evolving attitudes of female undergraduate may not be reflected in the upper echelons of academia immediately. It is often noted by some women entering science that there is a deficit of female role-models. This is reflected in the 100-year history of the Chemistry Nobel Prize; only 4 women have ever been a recipient. There are plenty of role models within science, although many have not received the recognition they deserve. A few discussions with female members of the Chemistry Department revealed some role models right on our doorstep; at least two of whom have managed to sustain both families and successful research careers.

“One suggestion is that lack of women in STEM subjects is due to societal expectations rather than an inherent lack of interest”

Professor Jane Grasby is the first female Professor in the history of the Department. When she came to Sheffield 18 years ago it struck her that there was little support for females within the science, and took it upon herself to bring about change. The results of her motivation and action are widespread; she founded the University’s Women’s Network and the Women Academic Returners Program, is chair of the Faculty’s Equality Diversity Committee, and is also writing the Department’s application for the Athena SWAN Award. She has achieved all this in the last 7 years whilst continuing her research in biological chemistry and raising 2 children. She commented that support from the Department was brilliant, and upon her return to full-time work she was given sabbatical leave to focus “The consensus of women in solely on her research. the Department is that the Due to the fast-paced policies implemented at nature of scientific Sheffield are making developments even a short break can have detrimental headway with combating impacts, and returning to gender inequalities” research can be extremely difficult. This is just one on of the many challenges that women face in pursuing a science career. After exploring this issue it is hard to not feel an incredible amount of support in terms of personal and career development for women at the University. The support networks and programs available facilitate a workplace in which everyone feels supported and can ask for help when needed. The consensus of women in the Department is that the policies implemented at Sheffield are making headway with combatting gender inequalities in science. Careers in STEM require commitment, passion and hard work, regardless of gender. Although it cannot be denied that gender imbalances exist, it is a positive thought that this issue is being addressed in our University, and that measures are in place which encourage women to flourish in science.

The percentages of males and females through the department’s levels (Data from 2012/13 academic year)

4

Resonance, March 2014

Male PhD

Postdoc

Gender-bias in application A recent study by Yale University found subtle gender biases towards males applying to academic institutions in the United States. Two CV applications were sent out to academics across the US, with the only difference being the gender of the applicant. Across the board, male CV’s were rated as being more employable, given a higher starting salary, and offered more mentoring than their hypothetical female counterparts. (Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci., 2012, 109(41): 16474–79)

Women have been historically less recognised than men for their achievements in science. However, it’s not because of a lack of interest on their part. Florence Nightingale, Rosalind Franklin, Ida Freund and Marie Ann Lavoisier are but a few notable female scientists that have been influential, invaluable and yet extremely underappreciated in their research.

Rosalind Franklin;

Masters

Athena SWAN is a government initiative attempting to establish fair working environments in terms of gender equality. Since its creation in 2005, Athena SWAN has encouraged universities to work toward changing cultures, attitudes and organisational structures in STEM subjects, in order to address gender inequalities and unequal representation of women in science.

Female Pioneers

A Widening Gap:

Undergrad

Athena SWAN

© Henry Grant Collection / Museum of London

made critical contributions to understanding the structure of DNA; which led Watson and Crick to obtain the Nobel Prize. Rosalind was never nominated for the prize, despite the fact that Watson and Crick couldn’t have determined the structure without her expertise in X-ray crystallography.

Ida Freund;

was the first female chemistry lecturer in the UK, at Cambridge in 1893. She was an active supporter of the suffragette movement, leading the campaign for female admissions into the Royal Society of Chemistry, and was said to be an inspirational teacher.

© Newnhmam College Cambridge

Female Academics

Professors

Resonance, March 2014

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Women in Science It’s well known that women are a minority in science, but moves to balance out these inequalities are gaining momentum across the country. With the Faculty and the Department applying for the Athena SWAN Silver Award, Cate O’Brien and Maya Singer-Hobbs took a closer look at how women are represented in Chemistry both globally and in the Department. The lack of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects can be traced back to the distribution of students entering University as undergraduates. Data obtained from the Chemistry Department shows that over the past seven years only 40% of undergraduate applicants are women. Although this does equate to a 40% intake and a similar percentage graduating, there are even less in postdoctoral and academic positions. In fact, a comparative decrease in the number of women enrolling in PhD programmes has been observed over the last seven years. Despite numerous studies into why these imbalances are present, there have been no clear conclusions. One suggestion is that a lack of women in STEM subjects is due to societal expectations rather than an inherent lack of interest. Further up the academic ladder, it is thought that lifestyle choices have a negative impact on women in science; often they are inclined to make a choice between a career and a family, not realising the possibility of managing both. Yet, there is optimism that things might be changing in Sheffield. A study conducted by Resonance

found that 59% of female, and 68% of male undergraduates in the Chemistry Department are considering a PhD. With over half of female students thinking about continuing their scientific education, could this indicate the beginning of a change in attitudes of and towards women in chemistry? The increased interest of women wanting to continue their studies is something that the Faculty is hoping to nurture through initiatives such as Athena SWAN. The dissemination of change is often slow; the evolving attitudes of female undergraduate may not be reflected in the upper echelons of academia immediately. It is often noted by some women entering science that there is a deficit of female role-models. This is reflected in the 100-year history of the Chemistry Nobel Prize; only 4 women have ever been a recipient. There are plenty of role models within science, although many have not received the recognition they deserve. A few discussions with female members of the Chemistry Department revealed some role models right on our doorstep; at least two of whom have managed to sustain both families and successful research careers.

“One suggestion is that lack of women in STEM subjects is due to societal expectations rather than an inherent lack of interest”

Professor Jane Grasby is the first female Professor in the history of the Department. When she came to Sheffield 18 years ago it struck her that there was little support for females within the science, and took it upon herself to bring about change. The results of her motivation and action are widespread; she founded the University’s Women’s Network and the Women Academic Returners Program, is chair of the Faculty’s Equality Diversity Committee, and is also writing the Department’s application for the Athena SWAN Award. She has achieved all this in the last 7 years whilst continuing her research in biological chemistry and raising 2 children. She commented that support from the Department was brilliant, and upon her return to full-time work she was given sabbatical leave to focus “The consensus of women in solely on her research. the Department is that the Due to the fast-paced policies implemented at nature of scientific Sheffield are making developments even a short break can have detrimental headway with combating impacts, and returning to gender inequalities” research can be extremely difficult. This is just one on of the many challenges that women face in pursuing a science career. After exploring this issue it is hard to not feel an incredible amount of support in terms of personal and career development for women at the University. The support networks and programs available facilitate a workplace in which everyone feels supported and can ask for help when needed. The consensus of women in the Department is that the policies implemented at Sheffield are making headway with combatting gender inequalities in science. Careers in STEM require commitment, passion and hard work, regardless of gender. Although it cannot be denied that gender imbalances exist, it is a positive thought that this issue is being addressed in our University, and that measures are in place which encourage women to flourish in science.

The percentages of males and females through the department’s levels (Data from 2012/13 academic year)

4

Resonance, March 2014

Male PhD

Postdoc

Gender-bias in application A recent study by Yale University found subtle gender biases towards males applying to academic institutions in the United States. Two CV applications were sent out to academics across the US, with the only difference being the gender of the applicant. Across the board, male CV’s were rated as being more employable, given a higher starting salary, and offered more mentoring than their hypothetical female counterparts. (Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci., 2012, 109(41): 16474–79)

Women have been historically less recognised than men for their achievements in science. However, it’s not because of a lack of interest on their part. Florence Nightingale, Rosalind Franklin, Ida Freund and Marie Ann Lavoisier are but a few notable female scientists that have been influential, invaluable and yet extremely underappreciated in their research.

Rosalind Franklin;

Masters

Athena SWAN is a government initiative attempting to establish fair working environments in terms of gender equality. Since its creation in 2005, Athena SWAN has encouraged universities to work toward changing cultures, attitudes and organisational structures in STEM subjects, in order to address gender inequalities and unequal representation of women in science.

Female Pioneers

A Widening Gap:

Undergrad

Athena SWAN

© Henry Grant Collection / Museum of London

made critical contributions to understanding the structure of DNA; which led Watson and Crick to obtain the Nobel Prize. Rosalind was never nominated for the prize, despite the fact that Watson and Crick couldn’t have determined the structure without her expertise in X-ray crystallography.

Ida Freund;

was the first female chemistry lecturer in the UK, at Cambridge in 1893. She was an active supporter of the suffragette movement, leading the campaign for female admissions into the Royal Society of Chemistry, and was said to be an inspirational teacher.

© Newnhmam College Cambridge

Female Academics

Professors

Resonance, March 2014

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NEWS FEATURES Award Winning Teacher Expects

Dr. Jenny Burnham is expecting her second child in February and is set to be away from the Department for 11 months.

As a University Teacher, Dr. Burnham develops how chemistry is learnt and taught in the Department. And so, the challenges that she has and will face in starting a family whilst sustaining a career in chemistry differ to those of research academics. On returning after her first child, Jenny explained that the time off had given her chance to reflect on her work, but also led to her relationship with chemistry to suffer. She was presented with difficult choices that required prioritising what she wanted to achieve in her life. The decisions that she made led to completing a Master’s degree in teaching and learning. With new skills and new ways of thinking she set up the level 3

Dr. Burnham recieving her Senate Award for Exellence in Teaching and Learning

A Fresh Addition New to the department in 2013, Dr. Sarah Staniland talked to us about why she came back to her hometown, her research, and what it’s like being a career driven mother.

Dr Staniland’s research focuses on biomagnetism; investigating how living organisms produce magnetic fields. Her work has taken her to many exciting places including Tokyo, Cape Town, Zambia, and before returning to Sheffield; Leeds. This summer she had her second child, as well as moving

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Skills for Success module, which this newsletter spawned from, and established a network to improve teaching across the sciences. Dr. Burnham’s activities within the Department and Faculty have had a profound but unknowing effect on student education. To praise her achievements, the University presented her with a Senate Award for Learning and Teaching at last year’s graduation ceremony. Jenny will be back in the department next January after the new addition to her family. Upon her return she aims to ‘develop a greater understanding of the dynamics of undergraduate lab teaching’, and expects that her job ‘will involve more strategic planning and thinking about curriculum, teaching quality, and resources which she said she was ‘looking forward to, as I enjoy making things work effectively’. Alex Stockham

her home, family and research group to Sheffield. She is an asset to the Department for many reasons, but particularly topical are her instigation of various equality programs in Leeds. Although admitting that it has been hard work to get where she is now, she has thoroughly enjoyed every step and where each has taken her. A piece of advice Dr. Staniland offered is to “do something because you enjoy it, not because you feel you should!”. Cate O’Brien and Maya Singer Hobbs

Resonance, March 2014

Dr. Staniland with one of her PhD students


The Green-minded Technicians Saving our Energy and Planet From renewable energy to recycling, a lot is being done in the UK to improve our relationship with environment. Within the University there have been big steps towards a greener future.

Professor Tony Ryan’s Project Sunshine is bringing together scientists from across the University under the banner of sustainability. And the Green Impact initiative is finding ways for departments to reduce their energy usage, which is in conjunction with a government mandate to cut carbon emissions 40% by 2030. The Department of Chemistry’s Green Impact initiative is driven by a team of technical staff. Key members include Harry Adams, Pete Farran, Melanie Hannah, Richard King, Jennie Louth and Nick Smith. Last April the team won two Green Impact awards for their contributions to reducing energy usage; one for the best labs in the science Faculty, and another for the second

best-energy saving idea. The energy saving ideas began by turning off undergraduate laboratory fume cupboards at weekends, saving around £3000-£4000 in the first year. Since then, their ideas have developed into implementing new systems which save energy by changing the air flow of fume cupboards. This means that when sashes are shut air flow is reduced, saving around £1500 per hood per year.

“It’s for all the generations to come… We only have one planet, we have to do it” The team are currently applying for funding to update all the Department’s fume cupboards. In an interview with Harry Adams, the Departmental Technical Manager, X-ray Crystallographer and Green Impact leader, he explained that in the chemistry stores everything that can be recycled

is, including waste solvent, paper, cardboard and electrical items, and explained that “Chemistry is an expensive science, but we do try wherever possible to do what we can”. Looking to the future, the Green Impact team are hoping to implement smart monitors so that energy usage can be viewed by the whole Department; which Harry hopes will make everyone more aware of their energy usage. In asking about his optimism for the future, Harry’s response was “Yes, we have to be. It’s not just my generation, it’s for all the generations to come… We only have one planet, we have to do it. We are all getting greener; we just need to keep pushing it”. And when asked if chemistry could provide the solutions to our future energy demands, he replied “There’s a synergy between Chemistry, Physics, Biology, in fact all aspects of science, to overcome this problem. We only have one planet, it’s in our hands.” Lucy Stone

Project Sunshine: Off the Shelf At Sheffield’s annual Festival of Words, Professor Tony Ryan, Pro-Vice Chancellor of science and former head of department, gave a talk about his new book; ‘Project Sunshine: How science can use the sun to fuel and feed the world’. For just under two hours, Professor Ryan and his co-author Steve McKevitt explored the book’s development and its content. The pair enlightened the audience about humanity's path

from a solar dependent economy to a fossil-fueled economy, and the possibilities that we have to find our way back. The evening drew to a close with Professor Ryan discussing the controversial activities of nuclear power and genetic engineering; offering the view that they might play an important role in future economies as solutions to our unsustainable food and energy demands.

Off the Shelf will be back next year, although talks have not yet been scheduled. In the meantime, the Resonance team recommends anyone interested in the topic to read the book - which is suitable for both scientists and non-scientists. Friederike Dannheim

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International Chemistry In order to establish themselves in the global network of scientific development, it’s essential for scientists and their institutions to forge connections across the planet. In this feature, Jenna Spencer-Briggs explores how a plethora of international links emerge within and from the Department.

International Students There are many opportunities for students in the Department to become internationalised. The chemistry taught by our lecturers comes from a global accumulation of chemical knowledge, and the flux of students into and out of the Department brings fresh international perspectives. MChem students are offered the chance to study in North America, Europe or Australia in their third year. These courses are undoubtedly beneficial as students get to experience other countries and their cultures, and potentially immerse themselves in learning another language. Through the Erasmus programme students from across Europe join us for a year of their studies. Alongside these, international students and researchers choose to travel the world over to undertake chemistry degrees here in Sheffield. As well as providing unique perspectives on science, international students help enlighten our home students about their cultures and lives. As shown in the infographic, we have student connections around the world!

Jake Entwistle

Research Collaborations The majority of research active academics are currently, or have previously, worked with a range of scientists from outside the British isles. There are many reasons for partaking in a joint research venture; it could be that an academic has read a journal or attended a conference and discovered a scientist with a similar research interest, or because a particular technique or method is needed for their research. For example; Prof. Ward, Dr. Meijer and Dr. Weinstein recently published a research paper with a chemist from Novosibirsk, Russia. This particular collaboration arose from the need of luminescent and photophysical measurements which were the Russian scientist’s expertise. From the USA to Japan, and Norway to India, chemists from our department have been forging scientific connections across the globe throughout their careers. No matter which branch of chemistry you look into, inorganic, organic, physical, biological or theoretical; our Department has established itself as one of the best research institutions in the world.

MChem Student Jake is currently working for a multinational polymer company in Brussels for his year in industry. We asked him about his thoughts so far. How does the experience compare with studying in Sheffield? This experience is totally different to being a student in the UK, it’s a full time job which means getting up at 7 and not getting home until 6... I appreciate the weekends a lot more now! What new and interesting things have you learnt and experienced? One of the main positives I can draw from my experience so far is meeting people from around the globe and learning about their countries and careers in chemistry. It’s allowed me to think ahead and see more opportunities available after my degree.

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Resonance, March 2014


Mapping the links: Each line connects the country of origin of students to the Department (Data from 2012/13 academic year)

The Nanjing Connection The final link between our Department and the world is through China; a joint degree programme has recently been created with the Nanjing University of Technology (NJUT). Students from China study at NJUT for three years, during this time academics from our department travel over and teach content from our first and second year syllabuses. In their fourth year, NJUT students come to Sheffield and join our level three group; the first cohort are due this summer!

It’s easy to forget that your experience in the Department isn’t just based in Sheffield. When you stop and consider all of the Department’s global connections you can begin to appreciate that we are part of an international network of science, and that your study and research is influenced by global negotiations of knowledge and experiences.

Fabio Pontecchiani

PhD student in Chemical Physics After obtaining an MSc in Chemistry in Italy, Fabio moved to Sheffield to study for a PhD. We spoke to him about the transition and his thoughts on the differences. Why did you choose to come to Sheffield for you PhD? A professor of physics asked me to join his project investigating polymers in photovoltaic cells. Being specialised in organic chemistry I wasn't sure about going into physical chemistry at first. However, since I was interested in renewable resources and solar energy I accepted the offer. How does studying in the UK differ from Italy? I have been here for 2 months now so it's still hard to tell. I can see that there’s a lot more student support services for academic and personal development. I was also surprised that there are so many international students here.

Resonance, March 2014

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INSIGHTS The Journey of a Hunter After twenty two years in Sheffield, Professor Chris Hunter will be returning to his roots at the University of Cambridge. His academic journey emerged from his time studying Natural Sciences at Cambridge. After choosing to specialize in chemistry in his undergraduate years, he moved into the domain of supramolecular chemistry for his PhD. Instead of following a usual route through British academia, Prof. Hunter flew to the other side of the world and began lecturing in New Zealand. Whilst there, he carried out research that laid the foundations for his seminal work on aromatic stacking interactions in DNA. On returning to the UK in 1991, he arrived at the University of Sheffield. He explained that he made the move

because he knew the department had a good reputation in his field, and that he’d previously experienced the vibrant nightlife as a student. After twenty two years of stimulating scientific insights at Sheffield, Professor Hunter will make the move to Cambridge to pursue new research avenues. One of these will be designing DNA-like polymers which can be copied and self-replicate. Being polymers, they will have different morphologies to DNA, but will contain sequences that enable tuning of their properties. With his entertaining lectures, charms and contributions to chemical knowledge, he will stick in the mind of many in the Department. We wish him the best in his new position, and success for the future. Heather Carson

A Conversation with Professor Fowler It was a science lesson of smells, smoke and explosive experiments that captivated the 11 year-old Patrick Fowler’s attention to science. Later, with his mind set on studying chemistry, he visited four universities and chose Sheffield as his favourite. Having both studied and taught in the Chemistry Department here, Professor Fowler is a rare sort. He remembers well sitting in LT6 pondering over particles in boxes; a fascinating concept that he now teaches in his quantum “There is more theory courses. At the time when he was to be discovered an undergraduate, Professor over all of Barry Pickup was already Chemistry.” here as a postdoctoral researcher. Things have now come full circle; the two are now research collaborators on a chemical graph theory project, with Professor Irene Sciriha from the University of Malta. Their research is focused on investigating electrical currents in conjugated molecules. This involves creating computer models that map out the strength and directions of conduction and ring current 10

Resonance, March 2014

O

N N

O

N

N

The visualization highlights localised points of electron density around functional groups, and a strong circular current around the aromatic imidazole ring (Image computed by Chris Gibson)

pathways, as shown in the graphic above. Although Professor Fowler remains adamant that his favourite work is always his current research, he admits to be very pleased that his past work was recognised when he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2012. Aspects of chemistry which currently fascinate him the most are graphene and other carbon nanostructures. He explained that it’s because carbon is thought to be “the most familiar element, and yet there are still new forms to find. If carbon can surprise us like that, it shows us that there is more to be discovered over all of chemistry”. Michaela Fitzpatrick-Milton


ChemSoc Lecture Reviews

On the 21st November, the Department witnessed an entertaining lecture from Professor Joe Harrity entitled ‘Some Chemicals I Have Eaten’.

by Michaela Fitzpatrick-Milton On the 7th November 2013, the Dainton building was taken hostage by ChemSoc and Dr. Peter Portius for some explosive chemistry at their ‘Fireworks Lecture’. There was an extraordinary turnout, with an overspill of viewers sitting on the steps for lack of seats. It began with a bang and some exploding balloons of hydrogen, causing most of the audience to jump out of their seats. Dr. Portius covered a range of explosive chemistry in the lecture; from chlorate-based pyrotechnics and burning jelly babies, to liquid oxygen soaked cigars and mock volcanoes. As the lecture progressed the theatre increasingly filled with smoke -which Dr. Portius assured was a research focus of the fireworks industry to reduce.

The affair was highly interactive; with Professor Harrity conversing with the audience about the science of the chemicals we consume everyday. Two lucky volunteers got to taste Harrity’s homemade curry and test the cooling effects of beer and milk on the active spice capsaicin which binds to neuroreceptors that register pain and heat, and release endorphins in response; meaning overstimulation can lead to addiction! Prof. Harrity went on to discuss treatments for malaria and hypothesised the amount of gin and tonic required to deliver an effective amount of the antimalarial drug quinine; which it turns out is a lot! Proceedings drew to a close by exploring the drug Sildenafil; initially synthesized by Pfizer to combat hypertension and angina, it was later rebranded as Viagra due to its unexpected side effects… In the spirit of the lecture, having taken all the chemicals discussed other than Viagra, Professor Harrity finished by popping the little blue pill right before our very eyes.

From top down, the images show; the combustion of magnesium in air using dry ice and the deflagration of nitrous oxide.

Reaching Out to the Next Generation The need to educate and engage young people in a continuously developing subject is vital to sustain its evolution. The Department’s outreach programme allows the younger generations in local schools to experience science in a University setting; making chemistry more accessible and representative of new developments. Since 2007, the Department has been home to the University of Sheffield’s Schools Laboratory. Whilst in the lab school students partake in experiments which would otherwise be inaccessible, and experience the science behind objects that would otherwise

remain a mystery. Alongside the schools lab, members of the Department go into local schools, colleges and sixth forms to run outreach events, lectures and talks. In secondary schools, lectures and experiments are used teach students the chemistry behind everyday occurrences and the spectroscopical wonders of analysis. Talks are also given about the potential career avenues that are possible through studying a science degree. As well as all these wonderful activities, year 6 students from the region are invited to the annual activity day hosted by Sir Harry Kroto; a chemistry graduate, and winner of the Nobel Prize in 1996.

The majority of the Department’s outreach events will take place this semester, and more are being planned for the forthcoming academic year. Fresh input and help from students is always welcomed. If you want to get involved, contact: Julie.Hyde@Sheffield.ac.uk

Gobika Chandrakumar Resonance, March 2014

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Fancy doing something different this semester?

Upcoming Events

The second issue of Resonance is due in September and we need more people to get involved. We want to expand from our undergraduate base and have our creations equally representative of the department. Being part of the team and producing the newsletter offers a range of opportunities which include to writing, researching, designing, logistics and social media. Anyone can join and new ideas are welcome.

If you’re interested or want to know more, email us at: chem-news@sheffield.ac.uk

Monday 7th Thursday 27th March, Students Union Auditorium Full listings of 12 lectures on: inspirationand.co.uk

‘The Colour of Enlightenment’

Tuesday 18th March, 6:30pm, Dainton LT1 Speaker: Dr. Tom Anderson

Discovery Night

Join our facebook page for updates and more news:

facebook.com/resonancenews

Friday 21st March, 4-8pm, Across the University Full listings of events on: www.sheffield.ac.uk/faculty/science/discovery-night

ChemSoc Annual Ball

Science and Engineering Festival 14th-23rd March 2014 As part of the British Science Association’s annual celebrations, a 10 day programme of science, technology, maths and engineering events will take place all over Sheffield and South Yorkshire. The University will open its doors on the 21st for Discovery Night; labs and lecture theatres will be filled with scientists and audiences for talks, demos and hands-on activities. Check out the full event listings at: www.scienceweeksy.org.uk

Inspiration & Co Lecture Series

Saturday 22nd March, Pre-bar 5:30pm, Bloo88 Starts at 7:30pm, Royal Victoria Holiday Inn ChemSoc member tickets available for £27.50

ChemSoc Invades Amsterdam

Leave Friday 4th, Return Monday 7th April Tickets available for £134 from Chemsoc

HEAR’d About This?

National Student Survey

The Higher Education Achievement Report gives recognition for involvement in extra-curricular activities. The report will be integrated into degree transcripts of students that have arrived since 2012 to credit engagement outside of lectures and labs.

The National Student Survey is an opportunity for students who are graduating this summer to give your thoughts on the Department’s courses

If you’re in levels 1 or 2 and involved in any extracurricular activities, speak to your tutor about its inclusion in your HEAR.

The information you provide is extremely important to both the Department and University as it allows them to identify and respond to any issues that you may have. The results are also made available to UCAS applicants and help to inform their decisions on which University to attend.

Please do fill in the survey which can be found at: http://www.thestudentsurvey.com/


Resonance Issue 1  

The first issue of Resonance, the University of Sheffield Chemistry Department's biannual student run newsletter. Published March 2014.

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