December 2015

In This Issue:

Patricia Poths
Maria Tortelli

Charlotte Borril
Hannah Cook
Bethany Harriss

Many thanks to:
Virginia Manch

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.


Dr. Anna Barnard: Junior Research Fellow

After graduating with an MChem degree from Durham University in 2008, Anna began a PhD in Chemistry with Professor David Smith at the University of York on self-assembling dendrons with applications in gene delivery which included a research visit at the University of Illinois. From 2012, she worked as a post-doctoral research associate with Professor Andy Wilson at the University of Leeds for 2 years on the development of novel inhibitors of protein-protein interactions. She then carried out a post-doc at Imperial College with Ed Tate for one year until the start of her JRF position in October 2015.

Her research focuses on using chemical tools to improve our understanding of biological systems. Currently, she is contributing to work on an interaction which is critical for the invasion of malaria parasites into host red blood cells.

Corey Fulop: Laboratory Technician

Corey studied Chemistry at the University of Otago in New Zealand, and wrote his honours dissertation on isotope analysis. After an internship that looked at developing analytical methods for the detection of food fraud, Corey worked briefly for the New Zealand  government before moving to the United Kingdom in January this year. Currently, he is a technician at Imperial’s chemistry department in South Kensington.

Dr. Ali Salehi-Reyhani: Junior Research Fellow


Ali’s interests centre around the development, application and translation of novel analytical instrumentation. He originally trained as a physicist specialising in optics and photonics at Imperial. His research focusses on microfluidic technology and a portable point-of-care diagnostics based on HPLC for the early detection of cancer and applications to agriculture. He’s interested in learning more about the department and what goes on so feel free to invite him for a coffee.

Helen Sharman: Operations Manager

Helen Sharman obtained a BSc in Chemistry from the University of Sheffield, before working with electronics, followed by time at Mars Confectionary. Following this, Helen went to Brunswick, University of London to do her PhD. At this point she applied and became part of Project Juno, to become the first Briton in space. Following her outerworldly experience, Helen worked in science communications for a few years, before joining NPL to work on surface nanoparticle analysis. She most recently worked in tech support at Kingston University before joining Imperial's Chemistry department as Operations Manager. 


Dr Joshua Edel has become a member of the advisory board of the RSC journal Analyst.

Dr Laura Barter has been elected to sit as a member of the RSC Chemistry Biology Interface Division Council.

Dr Matt Fuchter has been appointed as a member of the Royal Society of Chemistry Organic Division Council.

Dr Mimi Hii has accepted an appointment as the (co-) Editor-in-Chief for the Chemistry Central Journal ( , impact factor 2.1), an Open Access Journal published by Springer Science (also publisher of BioMed Central), which has recently taken over McMillan (Publisher of Nature and Scientific American).

Helen Sharman has been appointed the new President of the Institute of Science & Technology (IST), the professional body for specialist, technical and managerial staff. The IST has set itself a challenge to expand its horizons to support members and their needs within the ever-changing 21st century and Helen is looking forward to working with the chairman Terry Croft to further highlight the positive impact made by people in these roles
Dr Andrew McKinley has been elected to the committee of the RSC Tertiary Education Group.
Research Associate Dr Jennifer Gardener has been elected to an academic panel as the post-doctoral representative for the Dalton Division of the Royal Society of Chemistry. Her role will be to represent early career researchers at Council meetings and to help engage younger members of the Dalton Division. The Council meets three times a year to discuss topics including science policy, awards and prizes, conferences and funding.

Scientific Glassblower Stephen Ramsay has been recommended by the RSC to be admitted as RsciTech.

Commemoration Day 2015

On Monday the 19th of October, 135 Chemistry students graduated from the department, and moved on to become official Imperial Chemistry alumni. Congratulations to all involved!

Prizes and Awards

On 17 September PhD students Kerry O’Donnelly Weaver and Angela de Manzanos (Supervisor Dr. Laura Barter), were both given Student Awards for Outstanding Achievement 2015. These annual awards are given to students for outstanding achievement in extramural activity that brings credit to the College.
James Squires, PhD student in the Institute of Chemical Biology, (Supervisors Professors Ed Tate, David Klug, and Dr. Oscar Ces) has been awarded a Westminster Fellowship.The Westminster Fellowship Scheme provides an opportunity for Royal Society of Chemistry members to spend three months working at the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST). He will begin his fellowship in January. 
Helen Sharman has been made an Honorary  Fellow of the British Science Association, for making “a significant contribution to bringing science to a diverse audience, challenging attitudes to who ‘does’ science and how we perceive it as an integral part of our cultural identity in the UK.” (quote from BSA).

Third year PhD student Nicola McCarthy (Supervisors  Dr. Nick Brooks, Professor John Seddon, Dr. Rob Law, Dr. Oscar Ces) won the SCI Young Lipid Scientist 2015 Award on 30 June 2015.
PhD student, Bruno Camino (Supervisor Professor Nick Harrison), was awarded the prize for best presentation at STFC’s Accelerator Science and Technology Centre’s Early Stage Research Workshop at Daresbury in July. Bruno was presenting details of his theoretical model for "Predicting Quantum Efficiency to Aid Photocathode Research”.
PhD student Richard Fogarty (jointly supervised by Dr. Kevin Lovelock and Dr. Tricia Hunt) won the top poster prize at the Soft X-ray in Energy and Time (SXET) meeting in Berlin in August. He also won the best poster prize (for a different poster) at the annual Diamond Synchrotron Radiation user meeting in September.

Professor Charlotte Williams won a WISE award in the category of Tech-Start-up for Econic, the company she founded in 2011 to commercialize her research into eco-plastics. 
Read More

On 8th October the Department hosted a UROP poster session sponsored by Merck Chemical which enabled chemistry UG students an opportunity to present their summer research.  Prizes were awarded as follows:
  • 1st prize - Nils Floden (Year 4, MSci student) Old Methods with New Technologies
  • 2nd prize - Janet Peet (Year 3, BSc student)   Hydrogenation of Lignin to Platform Chemicals
  • 3rd prize - Natalie Uhikova (Year 2, MSci student) Packaging of the Future: Ooho!
On the 26th of October, the “Hidden Gens”, a team of three Chemistry undergraduates, Stanislav Piletsky, Zeyu Yang & Cristian Zagar, and one Medicine undergraduate,won the top prize for the FoNS Make a Difference (MAD) competition. Read more

When reached for comment about winning the MAD competition, Stanislav Piletsky, member of the "Hidden Gens" commented:
"The competition was very well organised and ran smoothly. My motivation for working with Molecularly Imprinted Polymers was to introduce Imperial students and academics to a highly promising but relatively underdeveloped technology. Winning felt fantastic, particularly considering both other teams succeeded with impressive projects. We're currently exploring the possibility of commercialisation. Additionally, we're now considering a number of other uses for this technology, and considering which competitions or placements to apply for next."

Dr James Bull has been awarded an RSC/BMOS Young Investigator Award 2015. This provided funding for him to attend and present at the 16th Brazilian Meeting on Organic Synthesis, held in Buzios, Brazil in November.
Following a rigorous College-wide selection process Drs James Bannock, Adam Clancy & Clare Weston have been awarded EPSRC Doctoral Prize Fellowships. These Fellowships are intended to help universities attract and retain the very best newly qualified PhDs that received EPSRC studentship funding and help them to launch a career in research.

Research Associate Dr Matthew Markiewicz has been successful in winning a fellowship from the Fondazione Oronzio e Niccolò De Nora in the field of Applied Electrochemistry. This one year fellowship will allow him to develop advanced electrode structures for electrolysers and fuel cells.

PG Symposium 2015

The PG Symposium is a day-long showcase of the work Imperial Chemistry PhD students do, sponsored by various industrial companies. During the symposium, second year PhD students present posters of their work, and final year students give talks about the work they've done. Prizes are awarded for best posters and best talks in various areas. The prize for the best overall research poster was awarded to Silvia Di Lecce (Supervisors Dr.Tim Albrecht and Professor Fernando Bresme), who also won the prize for best research poster in Physical and Analytical section.
Pictured above is Nicole Trainer, participant in the PG Symposium, presenting her poster. 


Research led by Marina Kuimova & Ramon Vilar has been featured on the College website as well as various science web sites & blogs and is based on their recent paper The interactions between a small molecule and G-quadruplexes are visualized by fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy

A paper Unravelling the effect of temperature on viscosity-sensitive fluorescent molecular rotors by Marina Kuimova et al has been published recently in Chemical Science.

A paper by Ed Tate et al “Global Analysis of Protein N-Myristoylation and Exploration of N-Myristoyltransferase as a Drug Target in the Neglected Human Pathogen Leishmania donovani” was featured on the front cover of the journal Chemistry & Biology.

Wan Yue (Marie Curie Research Associate in Iain McCulloch’s group) has just published a manuscript A Thieno[3,2-b][1]benzothiophene Isoindigo Building Block for Additive- and Annealing-Free High-Performance Polymer Solar Cells in Advanced Materials which has been selected as a VIP paper for inclusion in Materials Views.

PhD Student Gabriel Lau’s paper "Surface thermodynamics of planar, cylindrical, and spherical vapour-liquid interfaces of water”  has been one of the most read articles in 2015 for the Surfaces, Interfaces and Materials section in the Journal of Chemical Physics. Gabriel is jointly supervised by Tricia Hunt (IC Chemistry), E. Muller, G. Jacksonn (Chem Eng) and I. Ford (Physics, UCL).

James DurrantIain McCulloch and Martin Heeney have been included in the 2015-Thomson-Reuters highly cited researchers list



Professor Nick Quirke's group has been awarded €0.86M  to carry out molecular modelling of the key nanobio interactions in a four year programme as part of this H2020 project.

Dr. Oscar Ces has been awarded £71k of EPSRC Pathways to Impact funding for his proposal: Microfluidic Technologies for Ultra-Deformable Droplets: Capitalizing on EPSRC Funded Research Studies.

Dr Mark Crimmin has been awarded £116k from the Leverhulme Trust for a 2-year Research Associate for the project σ-Bond Activation with Weakly Coordinated σ-Complexes of Copper(I).  He has also been awarded £268k (split with collaborator Prof Klaus Hellgardt in Chemical Engineering) for a Shell funded project Selective Oxidation of Methane to Methanol with Biologically Inspired Dicopper Catalysts. 

Dr Mark Crimmin has also 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 Martin Heeney and Dr Ji-Seon Kim (Physics) have been awarded a $100k Samsung Global Research Outreach grant on High-Performance Organic Near-IR Photodetectors.

Professor  Ed Tate  has received a £1M CRUK Programme Foundation Award for his proposal “Understanding protein lipidation pathways in cancer: scope, dysregulation and potential for intervention”.  He has also been awarded the following grants:

  • CRUK Drug Discovery Project Grant “Rab27a: a novel drug target in cancer” (£270k)
  • EPSRC Institutional Sponsorship Award “Establishing an HEI and Industry-led collaborative research programme at the Francis Crick Institute” (£50k)
  • Medicines for Malaria Venture Challenge Grant "Development of novel NMT inhibitors as antimalarials" ($50k).

Plenary and Keynote Talks

Professor Alexei Kornyshev delivered the opening plenary lecture (The essential physics of supercapacitors and electroactuators at the nanoscale: electricity vs mechanics) at the 4th International Symposium on Energy Challenges and Mechanics 11-13 August 2015 in Aberdeen. He also gave the keynote lecture “ITIES for novel self - assembling plasmonic meta materials: From ultra sensitive sensors to variable mirrors” at the 48th Heyrovský Discussion - Progress in electrochemistry at liquid-liquid interfaces and liquid membranes, 14-19 June 2015, Castle  Třešť, Moravia in the Czech Republic.

Professor Ed Tate has given three plenary lectures over the summer:
  • Norman Heatley Award lecture, "The chemical biology of protein modification: from basic biology to drug discovery",  Kings College London 26 May 2015
  • Beating Malaria 2015, London, "Novel, potent and selective inhibitors of Plasmodium N-myristoyltransferase: a new antimalarial mode of action", 29 June -1 July 2015
  • 29th Annual Symposium of The Protein Society, Barcelona, "Chemical proteomic validation of drug targets at the host-pathogen interface", 22-25 July 2015

Professor Keith Willison gave a talk at the 10th European Biophysics Congress in Dresden, Germany on 21 July. He spoke in the Systems Biology and Multi-Cellular Systems session on: Absolute quantification of protein copy number in single cells using single molecule microarrays. Professor John Seddon was a co-organiser of the Congress which had over 1,000 participants and a range of research talks across more than 20 sessions.

Research Fellow Chris Johnson  gave a keynote lecture titled “New technologies for field-testing arsenic and fluoride levels in drinking water” at the Africa-India-UK conference on emerging frontiers for sustainable water - a trilateral partnership, in Johannesburg (3rd Aug 2015), funded by the British Council.  

Professor David Klug introduced a panel entitled ‘Hyperconnected Healthcare’ at the World Economic Forum meeting in Dalian (8th -11th September) and also took part as a panel member. Following that he was a panel member at an IC alumnus event in Hong Kong along with President Alice Gast and then went on to give a research talk Towards Structural Analysis of Drug-Protein Interactions Using Two Dimensional Infrared Spectroscopy at Hong Kong University 14th-16th September.

On 13-14 October Professor Charlotte Williams gave a plenary lecture Selective catalysis using bio-derived epoxides, carbon dioxide, anhydrides and lactones: preparation and properties of multi-block copolymers at a Bio-environmental Polymer Society conference at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany.

Dr Laura Barter was an invited speaker at the Computational Chemical Biology Conference Cairns Australia on 6-9 August.


Outreach ran a number of popular programmes over the summer including:
  • The Chemistry Taster Day, held on 18th of June with 54 students in attendance. Students experienced a day in an UGs life by completing an experiment as well as attending lectures.
  • On 6-10 July the Y11 Project STEM Summer School took place and there were 22 students on the chemistry strand completing various workshops as well as their own project at the end of the week. The findings were presented to parents and guests in the form of a poster.
  • During the Y10 Insights into Science and Engineering workshop, 20 science students spent half a day in the Chemistry Department making their own blue prints and turning copper coins into golden ones.
  • During the Sutton Trust Summer School for Y12 students, the Department hosted 18 students for 4 days learning Chemistry UG style as well as completing their own projects.
  • The joint Y12 Chemistry Department and Materials Department Work Experience Programme took place from the 20th – 24th July. There were 18 students in total who attended and half of them specialised in Chemistry, the other in Materials for the week. The students spent each day with a different researcher to have a taste of all of the different research that goes on in the departments. They presented their findings on the last day of the summer school in front of a panel of judges

All of these programmes were supported by undergraduate mentors within the Chemistry Department as well as technicians and academic staff.


The Chemical Biology CDT Conference 2015, was held at Imperial in June with Professor Sir Peter Knight FRS as the plenary speaker. This is an Institute of Chemical Biology CDT student-organised conference, bringing together postgraduate students from Imperial, and other Chemical Biology focussed CDTs to discuss their research. The well-attended conference gave 2nd year PhD students opportunities to present their research and 1st year PhD students to present their posters.

On 24 August Drs Laura Barter, Rudiger Woshcholski and Sarah Al-Beidh organised and chaired a Creativity and Ideas generation event for the Sainsbury’s farming scholars at the South Kensington Campus. This one day event was attended by the scholars, Sainsbury’s horticulture manager and academics from both Imperial, the Natural History Museum and other universities & research institutes across the UK.  

On 8-9 September, students who are part of the £3.2M EU funded NexGenAgriChem programme presented posters or gave talks at the Annual Syngenta Post Graduate Symposium, at Jealott’s Hill Research Centre.

The NSCCS held two workshops in September - Gaussian Workshop for Beginners on the 16- 17 September and TURBOMOLE Workshop on the 22nd & 23rd September in the Department of Chemistry; both attracted a mixture of external and internal participants.
Departmental glassblowing expert Steve Ramsay attended the first ever Technicians Conference which was hosted at Imperial in the summer. The Conference was opened by Professor Tom Welton, Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences when he focussed on the contribution that technical staff make at Imperial College, including examples from his own experience.  Steve can be seen here demonstrating his glass blowing expertise.

Helen Sharman, "from Mars to the Stars"

 On the 8th October 2015 Helen Sharman, the first British citizen in space, and new addition to the Chemistry department, gave a seminar to a full house for the Imperial Chemistry Society on the different opportunities her degree had given her, titled ‘From Mars to the Stars’. Helen has held a wide range of professions (read more of an interview with her), but the focus of her talk was on her time as an astronaut. 
Helen was a dynamic and engaging speaker, whose main focus was her space training and her experiences that have quite literally been out of this world. After giving the audience an overview of her background, Helen mentioned that it was a car radio advertisement that started her interest in becoming an astronaut. Following selection, her training involved a 18 month stay in Star City in Moscow, where she learned Russian and survived a tough physical training program, then moved on to the more weightless training, involving “vomit comets”, or parabolic loops on a plane to simulate weightlessness.
Helen then went on to describe her experience in space from onset to end. After describing some interesting Russian pre-take-off traditions, Helen described her journey and everything involved, from puffy faces to manual docking. She then touched upon details of daily life in zero-G, as well as the experiments she performed. These varied from agriculture to biochemistry. Other experiments involved growing perfect protein crystals due to the lack of gravity, as well as the formation of "very cool" metal alloys, such as of aluminium and lead.
In the final part of the seminar Helen touched on life after space travel. She became involved in science communication and worked to increase young people's interest in science. Later she joined the NPL, to work on surface nanoparticle analysis, then had a great time with university tech support at Kingston before joining us. Finally, Helen wound down with some directed motivational words, and compared her journey to space with those of today. All in all, Helen’s seminar was wonderful, thanks to Helen’s talent as a fluid speaker who wholly engages the audience with her enthusiasm.

Pictured above: Helen with the ChemSoc Committee
(and their wonderful blue jumpers)

by Charlotte Borrill

The Great Chemistry Bake Off

On the 8th October the chemistry PG committee hosted the Great Chemistry Bake Off to raise money for the charity, BBC Children in Need. It was a great success with a total of 18 cake creations from the weird to the wonderful. Judges for the day Maria Tortelli and Doris Pappoe awarded the first prize to Annikki Santala & Pierre Boufflet for their artistic molecular model cake, with Brett Baatz awarded the runner up prize for his spectacular coconut conical trio.

A ‘people’s choice’ first prize was awarded to Hazeeq Atman for his heart shaped Malaysian pumpkin cake with a second place going to Gemma Trott for her scrumptious courgette cake with lemon and lime curd. All winners were given Great British Bake Off recipe books as a reward for their efforts.

Amanda Halford Talk

On October 27th, Amanda Halford, an Imperial Chemistry alumna and past member of ChemSoc herself, not to mention current Vice-President Academic Research Business at Sigma Aldrich, treated ChemSoc to a whirlwind and inspirational talk before that evening’s careers fair. The talk focused on what you can do with a science degree.  After showing a video detailing statistics about the progression of STEM, Amanda brought up examples of how pushing the boundaries of science has shaped the world we live in today. Starting with the moon landing, and relating this to the creation of Silicon Valley, she then moved on to the use of precision medicine that has developed from our greater understanding of DNA. She then brought up the ever-important topic of ethics, before finishing with a discussion of alternative energies, from the emergence of new energy sources to their application in electric cars, to battery chemistry, a field that is becoming more and more important today.
Amanda then ended with a quick overview of the roles science graduates may hold within industry, stating how useful it is to understand the opportunities available. From sales and marketing, to R&D, to legal and data analysis, there is a wide variety of positions open for science degree holders.
Amanda then finished the talk with a bold statement of how vital learning is in the current workplace. “Never stop learning,” she emphasized, bringing her fast-paced and excellent talk to a close. 
The RCSU Science Challenge is now in its 9th year of running, since being founded by past RCSU President Jad Marrouche in 2007 - the competition has been a spectacle in the RCSU's events calendar ever since! This year's A-list guest judges include author and broadcaster Aarathi Prasand and Professor Sir John Pendry, and a prize pot totalling £4000! The Launch event was held in the Sir Alexader Fleming building foyer on Monday the 7th of December at 6:30pm. The questions may be found on the Science Challenge Website for students who wish to enter!

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

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