March 2016

In This Issue:



Maria Tortelli
Patricia Poths


Jenny Jiang

Many Thanks to:

Virginia Manch
  Lindsay Evans


Welcome to New Staff

We would like to warmly welcome the new members of staff that have joined us this year, and have been settling down into our community over this past term.


Ms. Natalie Smart

Natalie has joined us as an administrator in the student support office, where she is already getting to grips with information handling and Imperial’s systems. Natalie has a degree in Law with Criminology from the University of Sheffield but more recently Natalie has been a student/course administrator at City University, and is also a Zumba instructor. Please feel free to drop by and welcome her to the Department!

Meet Your New ChemSoc Committee:

Please welcome your new ChemSoc committee!
  • President: Cat SaundersYear 2
  • Vice president: Jack DawsonYear 2
  • Secretary: Patricia PothsYear 2
  • Junior Treasurer: Min-Woo HongYear 2
  • Marketing officer: Francesco PetriYear 2
  • Sports officer: Jack ScantleburyYear 3
  • Newsletter editor: Kirsty BarronYear 1
  • Photographer: Katerina StavriYear 2


Professor Ed Tate has been appointed to the Editorial boards of Cell Chemical Biology, and Molecular BioSystems.
Professor Nick Quirke has been appointed to the international academic committee of the state key lab for power engineering at Xi’an Jiaotong University Xian, China.
Andrew Coulson, Tissue Culture Facility Technician, has been elected as a member of the Royal Society of Biology from 1 January 2016.

Professor Ed Tate has been elected to membership of the Medical Research Club

Prizes and Awards

Doris Pappoe, PG Administrator, has been awarded the Imperial College Medal, This highly prestigious medal is given to those who have “rendered exceptional or outstanding service to Imperial College’ and will be presented to Doris at the Graduation Ceremony on Commemoration Day in October.

Dr James Bull has been awarded the Open Innovation Drug Discovery Award for Outstanding Contribution to Compound Screening from Lilly.  He has also been awarded the Thieme Chemistry Journal Award 2015 which is given to promising young professors at the beginning of their career.
Drs James Bull, Chris Cordier & Professor Alan Spivey have been awarded an AstraZeneca/EPSRC iCASE studentship for a project titled "Diversity Oriented Synthesis of Chiral Saturated Heterocycles”.
Two PG students in Dr James Bull’s research group have won external poster prizes:

Stephen Chawner awarded the poster prize at the 'SCI: New Approaches in Medicinal Chemistry’ conference held at GSK, for his poster on cyclopropane containing fragments.

Ethan Richards  (co-supervised by Dr Silvia Díez-González) won the prize for best PhD poster at the 'Pharmaceuticals in the Environment Symposium' hosted by AstraZeneca, for his work on new copper catalysts for Ullman reactions.

James Murray, PG research student in Prof Alan Spivey’s group, has been awarded a 2016 BMCS Travel Prize. These prizes of up to £1,500 are awarded to help support, encourage and develop the next-generation research leaders.

The Department has recently instigated a new annual award to recognise outstanding PhD performance, taking into account the written thesis and the PhD viva.   Selection is based upon input from internal and external examiners in addition to a supporting statement from the supervisor.  The first winners of this prize are:
  • Sarah Holliday (supervisor: Iain McCulloch), for thesis entitled “Synthesis and Characterisation of Non-Fullerene Electron Acceptors for Organic Photovoltaics”
  • Adi Nako (supervisor: Mark Crimmin), for thesis entitled “E–H Bond Activation by d0 and d10 Metal Centres”
Recently graduated Chemistry MSci alumni Alex Gillett was awarded the Salters’ Graduate Prize in celebration of his high levels of excellence at a ceremony and lunch reception at Fishmongers’ Hall in the City on 15 December. 


Dr Joshua Edel et al’s paper Self-Assembled Spherical Supercluster Metamaterials from Nanoscale Building Blocks has been highlighted as one of the top five most downloaded papers for December in ACS Photonics.

A tutorial review by Dr Joshua Edel and Professors Alexei Kornyshev and Anthony Kucernak has recently been published in Chemical Society Reviews.

A feature article Principles of a Single-Molecule Rectifier in Electrolytic Environment has been published on the website of the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Physical Chemistry and is based on the work of two undergraduate students: Xiaoyu Chen from Chemistry plus Matthew Cheung from Physics who was on a UROP placement last summer via the CDT TSM in Professor Alexei Kornyshev’s group.

Dr Mimi Hii was asked to comment on the latest research of Professor Steve Ley for an article in Chemistry World Forbidden chemistry’ drives carbon bond forming sequence

An article Template-Stripped Multifunctional Wedge and Pyramid Arrays for Magnetic Nanofocusing and Optical Sensing by Dr Joshua Edel, Professor Nick Long et al has made ACS Editors’ Choice in March.

An article Palladium-Catalyzed Directed C(sp3)–H Arylation of Saturated Heterocycles at C-3 Using a Concise Optimization Approach by Dr James Bull and PG Research student Dominic Affron has been the most accessed paper in the European Journal of Organic Chemistry in January.


Dr Mark Crimmin has been awarded an ERC Starting Grant of €1.5M for his proposal FluoroFix: Catalytic C–F Bond Functionalization for the Fixation of Environmentally Persistent Fluorocarbons

Professor Nick Quirke’ s research group has been awarded €0.86M to carry out molecular modelling of the key nanobio interactions in a four year programme as part of the H2020 SmartNanoTox: Development of Smart Tools for Gauging Nanodangers Project (an EU funded initiative with 12 European partners)
Dr Kim Jelfs is a project partner on a successful bid for a Leverhulme Centre for Functional Materials Design, to be based at the University of Liverpool. The Leverhulme Trust awarded £10M for a 10-year project bringing together computer science and chemical knowledge to develop new approaches for the design of functional materials.

Dr Andrew Ashley has been awarded an EPSRC First Grant of £125k for his proposal Softer Frustrated Lewis Pair Catalysis for Harder Substrates: Stannyl Cations for the Hydrogenation of Carbon Dioxide to Methanol and Methyl Formate.

Plenary and Keynote Talks

Dr Mimi Hii gave a plenary lecture entitled Catalysis in Flow on 7 January 2016 at the UK Catalysis Conference.

Dr James Wilton-Ely gave a keynote talk Sensing and Medical Imaging Using Functionalised Gold Nanostructures in Lisbon on 19 January at the 2nd International Symposium on Nanoparticles/Nanomaterials and Applications.
Dr Alexandra Simperler has recently given a number of talks:
  • 4 February two talks at the Virtual Winterschool on Computational Chemistry 2016: Concepts of Molecular Exited States Calculations and Intro to CASSCF Calculations
  • 26 February taught at the University of Greenwich on their MSc Medicinal Chemistry Course Computational Approaches to Drug Discovery 
  • 29 February delivered an Introduction to Gaussian at the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Theory and Modelling in Chemical Sciences at the University of Oxford.   


Dr Philip Miller’s research with PET scans has been featured on the home page of the College website and includes an animated video explaining how a PET scan works.
Research led by Dr Joshua Edel which should soon be able to capture biological molecules a thousand times faster, allowing better detection of important health issues, has been featured on the College website. The item highlighted research from the paper Nanopore sensing at ultra-low concentrations using single-molecule dielectrophoretic trapping which was published in Nature in January 2016.
Chemistry’s glass blowing expert Steve Ramsey has also been featured on the College website for being one of the first Imperial technicians to be recognised for the RSciTech award.
Dr Joy Farnaby has participated in the Royal Society’s pairing scheme which pairs scientists with parliamentarians or civil servants to give them an opportunity to experience each other’s worlds. The pairs met at a reception at Westminster in late November last year when the scheme began, and Joy then shadowed her partner, Dr Charlotte Woolley from the Ministry of Defence, for the week. Dr Wooley paid a reciprocal visit to the Department of Chemistry to shadow Dr Farnaby this March.

Chemistry Research Associates Drs Olga Kuzmina, Alastair McIntosh & Raquel Prado have been awarded approx. £2k from the RSC Outreach Fund to enable them to run a series of chemistry-based public events entitled Chemistry Around Us.  The programme will consist of a series of 6 demonstrations and workshops, running twice a month for the period of 3 months (Mid-January to March 2016) at the Notting Hill Venture Community Centre. The team aim to improve awareness of the influence and benefits of the different chemicals used in our day-to-day lives covering a range of topics including cosmetics, health and drugs and clothing and transport.

Prof Tom Welton contributed an article Building an Inclusive Culture in the Chemistry Department at Imperial College  in Chemistry: A European Journal which will be fully published to coincide with International Women’s Day on 8th March.

Dr Alexandra Simperler has written a blog for Women in HPC and commented on women in Scientific Application Software:


Dr Laura Barter coordinated a series of demonstrations at the reception event for Imperial College’s 28th Schrödinger lecture on the 19th January. Joined by Sarah Al-Beidh, PhD students from the NexGenAgriChem Programme, and Angela de Manzanos and Kerry O’Donnelly - ICB CDT PhD students who created FungiAlert, the interactive demonstrations showcased the activities of NexGenAgriChem, and, AGRI-net and FungiAlert to the 800+ audience members who had attended Prof. Sir Gordon Conway’s lecture focussed around the challenges faced by our growing, global population and the tools we need to overcome them (#securefood). 

Laura Barter, Rudiger Woscholski and Sarah Al-Beidh were invited to the Annual Sainsbury’s farming conference in December 2015. A video shown to the conference delegates highlighted the success of the Sainsbury’s Farming Scholars Programme – a recent collaboration between Imperial College, AGRI-net and Sainsbury’s in 2015.

A meeting with Sainsbury’s in Cambridge on the 27th January attended by Sarah Al-Beidh, discussed the development of a Sainsbury’s trials programme involving the 2015 Sainsbury’s Farming Scholars that will start to address key challenges faced on their farms and put into practice some of the learnings developed through activities organised by Imperial College during the Scholars’ Programme.

As an elected Council member for the Chemistry Biology Interface Division, Dr Laura Barter attended a meeting of Council members on the 21st January. The division, open to all RSC members aims to bring together those working at the interface between chemistry and biology and promote the importance of research in this area to academics, industry and government. 

Five current members of the Department (Kerry O’Donnelly, Sue Gibson, Helen Sharman, Hanadi Hassan-Nixon and Tom Welton) have been included in the 175 Faces of Chemistry initiative which is part of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s 175th anniversary celebrations. The anniversary kicked off with a special exhibition at Burlington House (22 February to 4 March) highlighting the stories of 175 inspirational individuals including our own five.

Dr Elisa Collado‘s poster has been accepted for the 7 March SET for Britain event at the House of Commons.

The Atoms Family Fringe Event:

The Atoms Family, the latest in Imperial’s fringe series of public evening events exploring the livelier side of science took place on 16 March and celebrated the contribution of molecular science in tackling the global challenges facing society, industry and our own health.

The evening kicked off with a lively debate titled Molecular Science 2.0, which brought together a panel of experts, including:
  • Professor David Philips, Imperial College London, and former President of the Royal Society of Chemistry
  • Professor Hagan Bayley, University of Oxford
  • Professor Paula Booth, Kings College London
Together, they explored what molecular science will look like in 20 years' time, and what global challenges centres like the Molecular Science Research Hub might be able to address.

Following the debate, visitors were invited to explore a wide range of interactive exhibits and hands-on demos from researchers working to secure our energy supply, limit climate change, and both improve and prolong our lives further.

It was wonderful to see such a diverse audience of around 400 people with representatives from industry and government bodies, alumni, and staff and pupils from about 25 different London schools all enjoying molecular sciences in such a stimulating and fun environment.

Read more

Below you can see some images from the event, including a couple of well-known faces. Be sure to ask them about their fascinating research some time!
Photo Credit: Thomas Angus

Imperial EMBRACE Conference 2016

The EMBRACE event came to life in 2015, as the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council acknowledged the necessity of a multidisciplinary approach to Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). Investigators Chris Toumazou (Engineering), Alison Holmes (Medicine), Alan Armstrong (Chemistry) and Pantelis Georgiou (Engineering) were awarded funding for their project ‘EMBRACE’ - Engineering, Physical, Natural Science and Medicine Bridging Research in Antimicrobial resistance: Collaboration and Exchange – and three fellows were appointed – Maryam Modarai (Medicine), Pau Herrero-Vinas (Engineering) and Lindsay Evans (Chemistry). Read More

On the 9th of March, 2016, the inaugural EMBRACE conference took place. During the conference, innovative cross-faculty AMR research that is currently taking place at Imperial was presented, and there was opportunity for networking amongst researchers both within and outside the University. This networking is vital in the approach to the solution of the problem, as the conference was designed to facilitate multidisciplinary cooperation and research capacity to tackle AMR through discussion. The conference included sessions on Data, Diagnostics and the Molecular Perspective, and featured a panel discussion on the global AMR challenge chaired by Professor Neil Alford.
The conference raised the issue of the importance of interdisciplinary research, as well as greater awareness of the public, media, and government of AMR. Over 130 individuals attended the event, which was opened by Prof. Alice Gast, who introduced Prof. Paul Tambyah from Singapore, presenting his plenary lecture on technology. This was followed by a poster display, a panel discussion, along with a discussion on twitter with the hashtag #EMBRACE16
The audience was highly multidisciplinary, ranging from industrial representatives to veterinary medicine professionals. This broad range of professions all gathered together sparked a flurry of cross-discipline dialogue and collaboration, heralding a successful outcome of the networking event.  As a result, Imperial is cemented as an important hub in AMR research, an institution well-placed to contribute strongly to the ongoing solution.
A recent competition, run by EMBRACE, was to fund pump priming projects, by encouraging cross-disciplinary collaborations. The two projects that received support from the first round of pump-priming grants were unveiled. 'Rapid Evaporative Ionisation Mass Spectrometry for the early detection of antimicrobial resistance ' was awarded to Prof Zoltan Takats, Department of surgery and cancer. 'Targeting quadruplex-DNA in the promoters of genes associated to antibacterial resistance' was awarded to Professor Ramon Vilar, Department of Chemistry.
In the future, EMBRACE will continue to build the profile Imperial has cultivated with respect to AMR, and further support the multidisciplinary approach to solving the issue. The main message that came out of the event was that AMR is indeed a growing threat that must be dealt with sooner rather than later, and that collaboration across disciplines will allow us to find a solution.

FLASHBACK: ChemSoc Christmas Dinner 2015

On the 14th of December, 2015, members of the Chemistry Department gathered in the Copthorne Tara Hotel for ChemSoc's annual Christmas Dinner, full of festive spirit and revelry. Starting with a drinks reception, a three-course meal soon followed. After the meal, attendees were treated to some touching words from the ChemSoc president, Hayley, followed by Alan Armstrong, and a series of humorous anecdotes from our own Helen Sharman. The night ended with increasingly cheerful revelry, and remains a nice night to remember. 

Our Union President 2016/2017
We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate former ChemSoc president, Nas Andriopoulos, on his election as Union President 2016/2017 If either staff or students would like to talk to him about anything, feel free to contact him, especially on subjects related to the White City campus move, a particular point of importance to Nas. Congratulations, Nas, and all the best for your stint as Union President!

Molecular Sciences Research Hub at Imperial's new White City Campus


On the 28th of January, Imperial held a topping out ceremony to mark the completion of structural building works for its Translation & Innovation Hub the building which will be adjacent to the Molecular Sciences Research Hub on the new White City Campus.

Due for completion in late 2017/early 2018, the Molecular Science Research Hub will be a state-of-the-art science building housing research from Imperial's Department of Chemistry to seed a new molecular sciences neighborhood, connecting with work in synthetic biology, data sciences, and health.

As these images show, construction is progressing rapidly, and it is great to see the artist's impression mirrored so well by the emerging building.

Below on the left is an image of the artist's impression of the building, and on the right is an image of the current state of the construction.

ChemSoc Seminars Highlight


David Nutt: Why Chemists Should make the drug laws

On the 8th of March, ChemSoc was visited by Professor David Nutt, director of the Neuropsychopharmacology Unit in the Division of Brain Sciences, and former chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, for a seminar about drug laws. Professor Nutt discussed his research on the harmful effects of drugs and his opinion on the UK drug laws.
His notorious report, in which alcohol is classed as among the most dangerous drugs, while MDMA was classed among the least harmful, was naturally a topic of discussion. This led to him expressing his view, that the government and media play up the negative effects of drugs such as MDMA, while downplaying the dangers of alcohol, despite these being well researched. From here, Professor Nutt brought up one of the more interesting sections of the seminar; a discussion of the Chanel 4 show, Drugs Live. While the media was quite against the show, claiming it wasn't necessary, and that the outcome would be exactly as one would expect, Professor Nutt suggested that the show was useful, as there have been very few studies about the control of drugs.
Professor Nutt then described what he sees as a major flaw in the control of drugs: that despite holding a Home office License to perform research on controlled substances, the studies that are actually done on these substances are far and few between, mainly due to ethical concerns, and a lack of funding. Therefore, much of the mechanism with which they impact the brain remains a mystery.
It was a very interesting talk that ranged from political to social and economic views. A thought-provoking point of his was that politicians have banned drugs such as MDMA and mephedrone purely because it is already a low risk drug and it would look as if they had made a difference in their policies. Professor Nutt went on to state that future scientists who actually understand the effects of these drugs should be instrumental in making the decisions.
Following the seminar, there was a thought-provoking question session, where members of the audience discussed their views with Professor Nutt, which was subsequently followed by a reception.
By Jenny Jiang

ChemSoc Sponsors:

GSK: Silver Sponsor
GSK logo 2014
 Ernst and Young: Bronze Sponsor
Ernst and Young

P&G: Bronze Sponsor


Centrica: Carbon Sponsor

Centrica logo.png

Sigma Aldrich: Carbon Sponsor

RSC: Carbon Sponsor

Copyright © 2016 Imperial College Chemistry Department, All rights reserved.