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As Head of School, I would like to welcome you, our alumni and friends, to the inaugural annual School of Chemistry newsletter. This first edition is full of stories about our last academic year in education, research and outreach and will give you the snapshot of day-to-day life in the School. The School of Chemistry is determined to engage future scientists from an early age, and in 2016 we welcomed the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Spectroscopy in a Suitcase, an exciting initiative which brings outreach into the classroom. Not to be outdone, our undergraduate and postgraduate students are really excelling across the board! From international travel to organising new School events, and from success in the Trinity Student Science Review to being highlighted for research in Silicon Republic there are many wonderful stories inside this edition, that showcase their achievements both here and abroad. Research is always exciting and innovative in the School, and our research groups are constantly breaking new ground across many multidisciplinary fields. This year our staff secured over €5 million in national and European funding. Details of the award winning projects and other research highlights are inside. The School is also broadening its engagement with alumni and I would like to thank all of those who have supported us so generously in 2015/16. I would particularly like to acknowledge Beate Schuler and her support for our Summer School as well as the Tarlo family who, in conjunction with the Trinity Access Programmes, have funded the Ruth Tarlo

scholarship. This scholarship will help to support a female Junior Freshman studying chemistry and was awarded in October 2016. Ruth is one of Trinity’s earliest female chemistry students, graduating in the 1940s. We are delighted to share our news with our alumni and friends. If you have any ideas or articles for future issues or would like to connect with us in anyway we would be delighted to hear from you. Our Global Officer, Dr Niamh McGoldrick, can be reached at

Professor Sylvia Draper, Head of School

Newsletter 2016-17 2014 – 2015

RSC Spectroscopy in a Suitcase Expands Throughout Leinster The free practical workshop focuses on the application of spectroscopy in a forensic investigation of a ‘crime scene’. Spectroscopy features on the Leaving Certificate Chemistry curriculum, but it is a subject that can be hard for students to grasp without any context or equipment. SIAS gives school students the opportunity to learn about spectroscopy through a hands-on workshop. Enthralled secondary school students during a session with RSC Spectroscopy in a Suitcase Ambassador Joanna

Spectroscopy in a Suitcase (SIAS) is a Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) outreach initiative which brings portable spectrometers into the classroom. It is currently run in the Leinster region by the School through the RSC Education Coordinator John O’Donoghue and Freshman Coordinator Noelle Scully.

The School of Chemistry currently has access to portable IR and UV-Vis spectrometers which are commonly used in analytical chemistry laboratories around the world. Bringing students into contact with the School is a key aspect of the workshop, allowing budding scientists to ask questions about further study in chemistry and life at the university. For many students, this is their first time meeting a chemist. Hearing

about our students’ experiences and research can give students the insight, confidence and encouragement to pursue a future in STEM. The programme also enables Ph.D. students (our SIAS Ambassadors) to gain experience of outreach, science communication and teaching activities. The 2015/16 year was the busiest yet for SIAS with 42 sessions completed by our hard working SIAS Ambassadors who visited over 800 students in 32 schools across Leinster. The team also hosted workshops within Trinity as part of the School’s outreach programme including the AMBER Transition Year programme. Other trips this year include the Irish Science Teachers Association National Conference in Limerick and the Waterford Science Festival.

Researchers Make Major Clean Energy Breakthrough The development of a real alternative to fossil fuels is perhaps the greatest technological challenge faced by humanity at present. Now, researchers in the School have developed a material which enhances the splitting of water at a very low energy cost using earth abundant raw materials. This new material performs as well as the world’s most effective material for water splitting but is much less expensive. The breakthrough, published in the American Chemical Society’s journal Catalysis in March 2016, means that an energy efficient production of pure hydrogen is now possible using renewable energy sources. Professor Mike Lyons, Principal Investigator in the School and CRANN, said “We are very excited about this breakthrough. The use of this material in industry will mean that electrochemical hydrogen generation is now The team of researchers behind the School’s recent breakthrough in energy research; (L-R) far more economically viable and will hasten Dr Hugo Nolan, Professor Georg Duesberg, Professor Paula Colavita, Michelle Browne and Professor Mike Lyons adoption of hydrogen as a fuel in energy efficient transportation. The cost of producing hydrogen via water electrolysis will be significantly reduced, which will result in a more rapid uptake of hydrogen as an automotive fuel. This discovery could only have been accomplished using the world- class characterisation facilities and interdisciplinary collaboration available within the School and CRANN”. Professor Lyons leads the Trinity Electrochemical Energy Conversion and Electrocatalysis (TEECE) Group. This collaborative project included his Ph.D. student Michelle Browne, Professor Paula Colavita (School of Chemistry, CRANN), Dr Hugo Nolan and Professor Georg Duesberg (ASIN group, CRANN). 2



Emeritus Professor John Kelly Recognised for Shedding Light on the Mechanism of DNA Damage Professor John Kelly is the recipient of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s 2016 Rita and John Cornforth Award, along with his collaborators Professor Christine Cardin, University of Reading, and Dr Susan Quinn, University College Dublin. The annual award highlighted the consortium’s structural work on DNA transition metal complexes, proof of the origins of the ‘light-switch’ effect and its implications for mechanisms of DNA damage. Professor Kelly said “I am delighted that our collaboration has been recognised with this award. My interests have always involved exploring photochemical reactions, and understanding the processes occurring from the initial absorption of a photon to the formation of a permanent product”.

Professor John Kelly (far right) pictured with School of Chemistry Staff

The group use specially synthesised molecules to see how – and where – they bind to DNA. The reactions involve short-lived chemical species, which are damaging to DNA and cells inside the body. The reactions require specialist crystallography and laser techniques to provide a series of snapshots that illuminate what is really taking place. Working in the world-leading Rutherford Appleton Laboratory enabled the scientists to follow the vibrations of excited molecules in DNA crystals, so as to follow the transit of the electrons that lead to DNA damage. This most recent breakthrough opens the door for studies looking at direct UV excitation of DNA in crystals, to aid understanding of the processes that cause DNA photo-damage. It should also help related research in the fields of cancer medicine and drug development.

Women in Chemistry Highlight Personal Experiences at School of Chemistry Event On 31 March 2016, 50 undergraduate and postgraduate students gathered to hear a panel of the School’s female academic staff and alumni share their personal experiences about life in science. This special Women in Chemistry event, supported by the School and WISER, was organised by Eva-Maria Dürr (Senior Sophister Chemistry) and Michelle Browne (Ph.D. student) in an effort to give visibility to women working in fields related to chemistry. The panel of speakers represented a range of different career paths both within and outside academia, as well as a variety of cultural backgrounds. This provided both an entertaining and informative view of the challenges that women may face in the scientific world. While all speakers spoke from their personal perspectives, the event was very insightful for students of any gender and highlighted the range of available career opportunities after graduating with a degree in chemical science. Ms Dürr said, “Hearing about the panel’s personal journeys was a very empowering experience, particularly their perceptions of the careers that were available to them and the opportunities that they grasped to date.

Professor Joanna McGouran speaks about her experiences in STEM during the School’s Women in Chemistry event

It really was an inspiring evening, recognising the great progress that has been made by women in chemistry and encouraging students to pursue their goals and to tear down any barriers to their success”.

This event follows the School of Chemistry’s recent Athena Swan Bronze Award in 2015. It is the first chemistry school in the country to receive this honour and acknowledges the School’s commitment to gender equality and to advancing the careers of women in STEM, employment in higher education and research. 3

Newsletter 2016-17 2014 – 2015

School of Chemistry Welcomes New Staff Members to the Team School of Chemistry Postgraduate Students Recognised for Excellence in Research

Students Michelle Browne (TEECE group) and Maria O’Brien (ASIN group) both of whom have been highlighted for research excellence this year

Professor Peter Dunne and Professor Joanna McGouran, the new members of the academic team in the School of Chemistry

The School of Chemistry welcomed new faces in 2015/16 including RSC Education Coordinator Dr John O’Donoghue, Senior Executive Officer Ms Annemarie Farrell and Technical Officer Thomas Conroy. Two new academic staff have also joined the team. Professor Joanna McGouran joined the School’s staff in January 2016 as the Schuler Assistant Professor in Translational Organic Chemistry. Her research focuses on activity based protemics which has applications in target validation, late stage inhibitor screening and mechanism of action elucidation for drug repurposing. Her extensive collaborative work has led to many high impact publications spanning both chemistry and medicine including papers in Cell, Science Advances, Chemical Science and Angewandte Chemie. Joanna obtained a M.Chem degree and later her D.Phil. at the University of Oxford with Professor Ben Davis. She has also worked with the Kessler and Brown groups at Oxford. Professor Peter Dunne develops clean synthetic methods for the production of functional inorganic nanomaterials. He has previously worked on a patented process for the synthesis of soluble metal oxide nanoparticles for thin film applications, composite high surface area catalysts, and scalable continuous-flow hydrothermal and solvothermal synthesis routes to a wide variety of nanomaterials. He was awarded his Ph.D. from National University of Ireland, Galway and has held research positions at the University of Warwick and the University of Nottingham. The School also said goodbye to Tess Lawlor who was a dedicated member of the School’s administrative team for 17 years. We wish her well in her new career!


Michelle Browne is the recipient of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s 2016 Sheelagh Campbell Award. Michelle is currently working under the supervision of Professor Michael Lyons (TEECE) and Professor Paula Colavita in the School of Chemistry and CRANN. This award is given to a student who demonstrates academic excellence in the field of electrochemistry based on a published paper. Michelle presented her work which was published in ACS Catalysis, at the Electrochemistry conference in the University of Leicester in August 2016, as part of the award. Her work has recently been highlighted in Silicon Republic’s ‘10 major Irish breakthroughs of the year so far worth celebrating’, published in June 2016, as well as the Engineers Journal. Maria O’Brien has been named as one of six rising stars of Irish research in 2016 by Silicon Republic. Maria is a Ph.D. student in the School’s ASIN group working under the supervision of Professor Georg Duesberg. She works on the synthesis and applications of 2D semiconductors for device applications, on a project sponsored by the Irish Research Council and Intel Ireland. The group has so far been able to synthesize monolayer and few-layer transition metal dichalcogenides such as MoS2 and MoSe2 using chemical vapour deposition. They have studied their fundamental properties and suitability for future device integration using techniques such as Raman and photoluminescence spectroscopy.



Medicinal Chemistry Researchers Welcomed to the Trinity Biomedical Science Institute On 1 July 2016, the School of Chemistry received delegates to the Trinity Biomedical Science Institute for the first ever Medicinal Chemistry Conference Ireland. This significant event brought together some of the most relevant researchers in this multi-disciplinary field and highlighted Ireland’s strong wealth of graduates in the area. The organising committee, which included representatives from seven of Ireland’s national universities, welcomed 120 participants for the one-day conference. The programme, opened by Professor Martina Hennessy (Associate Dean of Research at Trinity), included international academics and industry representatives from the U.K., Italy and Spain. Poster prizes were awarded to four researchers on the day, with the organising committee congratulating the overall quality of research. Dr Andrea Brancale (Cardiff University) also led tributes to his former colleague, the late Professor Christopher McGuigan, who lost his battle with cancer early

The Trinity Biomedical Science Institute welcoming conference attendees

this year. Professor McGuigan’s immense thirty year contribution to the field of drug discovery was celebrated, as well as his active role in developing anti-cancer drug

research world-wide. The School would like to acknowledge the work of Professor Isabel Rozas and her team for their part in organising the conference.

Funding and Publication Highlights The School has recently achieved great success in winning multiple prestigious national and European grants. Congratulations to Professor Aidan McDonald for his 2015 ERC Starting Investigator award of €1.5 million for his project Hurdling the Oxo Wall: Late First-Row Transition MetalOxo Complexes for C–H Bond Activation. The project started in 2016 and is investigating new hydrocarbon activating oxidants, to provide the chemical industry with new methods for the sustainable and environmentally friendly production of chemicals. Congratulations to Professor Valeria Nicolosi, recipient of an ERC’s Proof of Concept Grant, worth €150,000. This is a top-up for her ERC Starting Grant of €1.5 million awarded in 2011 and brings her total research funding awarded in the past five years, to over €12 million. Professor Nicolosi is Ireland’s only five-time ERC awardee. The award will be used to explore the commercial use of advanced nanomaterials to act as solutions for heat dissipation for the high-end automotive industry.

In other recent successes, Professor Georg Duesberg and Professor Sylvia Draper are two of only 24 researchers in the country to have received Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Investigators Awards this year. Their successful projects, which received more than €3 million in funding, are entitled Investigating Emerging 2D Semiconductor Technology and Targeting Synthetic and Material Advances in the Activity and Function of Light-emitting Molecular Complexes respectively. Professor Rachel Evans was also recently awarded an Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund Award entitled OxyInk: Oxygen-Sensitive Printable Ink Sensor Formulations as Integrity Indicators for Modified Atmosphere Packaged Foods. Congratulations also to Professor Thorfinnur Gunnlaugsson, his research team and Professor Emeritus John Kelly on their successful publication in Nature Chemistry. The collaborative team, whose research will help us to gain an understanding of the processes that cause DNA photo-damage, had their ground-

breaking work highlighted on the cover of the journal (DOI:10.1038/NCHEM.2369). This is the second recent publication in the journal for Professor Gunnlaugsson (10.1038/nchem.2423) who has also been named as one of the top ten percent of cited authors in the RSC’s general chemistry portfolio of journals this year.


Newsletter 2016-17 2014 – 2015

Graduate Profiles One-to-One with David Scanlon What are you doing these days? I am a Lecturer in Computational, Materials and Inorganic Chemistry at University College London (UCL). I moved to UCL in 2011 after I finished my Ph.D. in Trinity to take up a Ramsay Fellowship. I currently lead the Materials Theory Group. We use techniques to predict the properties of new materials for renewable energy applications, including photocatalysts and solar cell absorbers. Why did you choose your current career?

Professor David Scanlon, B.A Chemistry (2006) and Ph.D. Chemistry (2010) with Professor Graeme Watson

I don’t think I chose my current career until halfway through my Ph.D. I always knew when I was a kid that I liked chemistry and maths, however, I only realised that I really liked computational chemistry during my final year project, and so decided to undertake a Ph.D. in this specialised field. Once I started my Ph.D. with Professor Watson, I realised that I would like it as a career, and the rest is history. Are you still in touch with other Trinity alumni? I met my wife in Junior Freshman chemistry lectures, and met many of our Trinity friends over the years, who we are still in regular

contact with. Being away from Ireland, we obviously don’t see people as often as we would like, but with social media it is possible to keep abreast of developments. Professionally I collaborate with Trinity alumni across the U.K. and abroad, friends that I made while in the School of Chemistry. What are your strongest memories of Trinity? As I did both my undergraduate degree and Ph.D. there, I have so many! The latest and most poignant was getting married to Gemma in the Trinity Chapel in June 2015, surrounded by our friends and family, with the obligatory drink at the Pav after the ceremony! Have you any advice for students or fellow alumni? Find something that you love, and are passionate about, and pursue it! If you choose a life as a Chemistry academic then one thing that has to be said is that making it in academia is a war of attrition, where you will face setbacks and rejections regularly, but if you love what you do, it will be worth it. Perseverance is key!

Undergraduate Students Shine at Trinity Scientific Student Review

TSSR General Manager Alison Hennessy and Chemistry Editor Kate Reidy


This year saw the second publication of Trinity’s Student Science Review (TSSR), our student-run annual publication that provides an opportunity for undergraduates to be published and gain recognition for exceptional academic work among their peers in Trinity. Our students had five review articles published in total, three within the chemistry category; Dónal Ring (Best Chemistry Essay, JS Chemistry), Stephen Byrne (SF Science), Dylan Lynch (JS Medicinal Chemistry). Kyle Frohna (JS N-PCAM, Physics) and Jack Schofield (SF Science, Life Sciences) also took prizes in their respective categories. The School of Chemistry would also like to extend their congratulations to students Alison Hennessy for her work as General Manager, to Kate Reidy for her outstanding work in her role as Chemistry Editor, and to all the chemistry undergraduates who submitted an article for publication. Read the winning articles at www.



One-to-One with Janice Byrne What are you doing these days? I am currently an IT project director, responsible for strategic IT projects in collaboration with different entities of BNP Paribas. The job has just the right amount of travel to permit me to raise my son and daughter in an equilibrated environment. Why did you choose your current career? A job opportunity came up in Paris in the IT area. The analysis skills needed were those I had acquired during my time in Trinity so I took a chance, applied and got the job. Later I was working in BNP Paribas when they bought the Italian bank BNL. They were looking for people prepared to coordinate work between France, Italy and Morocco. I raised my hand and one thing led to another. During my time with BNL, I have been fortunate enough to work on several innovating cross border projects. What opportunities did you get during your time in Trinity?

Dr Janice Byrne B.A Chemistry (1993) and Ph.D. Chemistry (1997) with Professor Sylvia Draper

I went to Toulouse in my final undergraduate year for my research project. The research team was more than welcoming and the students invited me to their soirées. The trip to Toulouse was my first taste of life away from home. When the occasion to go to Bologna, Italy, came up the following year as part of my Ph.D. I jumped at the opportunity. These trips permitted me to see other working methods, perfect my French and develop cross-cultural communication skills.

International Travel Update - Sophister Students Abroad From China to North America and Australia to the far corners of Europe, our Sophister students are taking the research globe by storm! Our undergraduates have shown us that they are more adventurous than ever and have chosen to pursue both summer internships and Senior Sophister research projects in top research centres and universities around the world. In 2016, the School of Chemistry welcomed several new destinations, in particular, our nanoscience degree students took the opportunity to head to Shanghai Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics and to Soochow University’s Institute of Nanoscience, FUNSOM. Our Chemistry and Medicinal Chemistry students have taken full advantage of Trinity’s membership in Trans-Atlantic Science Student Exchange Program (TASSEP), and are engaging in research opportunities in Calgary, Montreal and Chapel Hill. Eager to engage with research outside of the academic term, many are also currently enjoying summer internships between their Sophister years. Kyle Frohna (Sophister student, N-PCAM), even managed to get a selfie with Nobel Laureate Professor Rudolph Marcus at Caltech. Follow their stories and more on our Twitter page @TCD_Chemistry!

Where did you go after Trinity? With a Trinity Ph.D. under my arm, I set off to France as a postdoctoral researcher and ended up in Grenoble. What’s funny about France is that putting Gaélique on your CV can also help; people from Brittany are really impressed! I worked in universities for four years, two in Grenoble and two in Toulouse, thanks to connections that I had made during my previous research projects.

Student Kyle Frohna (N-PCAM) with (1992) Nobel Prizewinner Professor Rudolph Marcus during his research project at Caltech


Calling all Alumni! The School of Chemistry is looking for mentors for the School’s first Junior Sophister Chemistry GradLink mentoring programme which is launching in 2016/17. GradLink aims to develop current students’ knowledge of the labour market and career paths. GradLink nurtures

career learning through working with alumni mentors in a range of areas and enables students to access workplace knowledge and experiences. The GradLink programme enables alumni to use their workplace

knowledge and experience to help current students. More information on the launch date including how to register is available at or by contacting

Remember. The power of a legacy to Trinity There’s an old saying that the true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade one does not expect to sit. When you leave a legacy to Trinity however big or small, you’re planting a tree which will grow to provide shelter to many. You’re empowering ground-breaking research which will benefit people in Ireland and all over the world. You’re supporting students from all backgrounds to access a Trinity education. You’re helping preserve our unique campus and heritage for new generations.

Oregon Maple Library Square Planted early 1800s

Get Involved

Upcoming Alumni Events

Trinity has a long tradition of outreach and community engagement. To find out about the numerous ways you can get involved with Trinity both at home and abroad, please visit

Christmas Commons 7 and 14 December 2016

When you remember Trinity in your will, you join a tradition of giving that stretches back over 400 years – and reaches far into the future. For more information about leaving a Legacy to Trinity, please contact Carmen Leon. T. +353 1 896 1379 E.

Class Notes Do you have any news or updates that you would like to share with your fellow alumni? Submit your news with an image, subject of study and year of graduation to For more information please visit

Christmas Homecoming 21 December 2016 Carol Service 15 December Other Upcoming Events:

School of Chemistry Trinity College Dublin Dublin 2, Ireland Ph +353 (0)1 896 1726 Twitter: @TCD_Chemistry, @npcamtcd of Mathematics Email: Hamilton Building Trinity College Dublin 2, Ireland Phone +353 (0)1 896 1949 Email mathdep@ tcdalumni tcdalumni @tcdalumni


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