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August 2016

In This Issue:

 
 

Editors:

Kirsty Barron
Maria Tortelli


 

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. Artem Bakulin

Following on from lectureship interviews last September, Dr Artem Bakulin joined the Department on 1st April having transferred his RS URF from Cambridge.  Artem’s research is focused on the ultrafast photophysics of organic materials and electronic devices. Working in collaboration with synthetic chemists and material and device scientists, Artem develops state-of-the-art infrared ultrafast laser spectroscopy tools to observe and control molecular-scale processes. Long-term perspectives of this research include charge-transport properties of proteins and single molecule scale time-resolved spectroscopy.

Artem Bakulin received his undergraduate degree from Lomonosov Moscow State University (2005) and PhD from the University of Groningen (2009). In 2010, he was awarded a Rubicon Fellowship from Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) to study charge dynamics in organic solar cells at the University of Cambridge, and in 2012 an NWO Veni fellowship which he carried out at FOM Institute AMOLF in Amsterdam.

Academic Promotions


Congratulations to Chemistry staff who have achieved academic promotion this year (effective September):

 

Appointments


Professor Iain McCulloch has been elected as a Fellow of the European Academy of Sciences.

Professor James Durrant has been elected Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales.

Professor Alexei Kornyshev has been appointed as an Advisory Professor at Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST), Wuhan, China. The appointment is intended to boost collaboration between HUST and Imperial in the area of electrical energy storage and electrochemical engineering. The Award ceremony chaired by the Vice President of HUST, Professor Jian-Guo Chen, took place on 5 June 2016.


After successfully serving as an expert evaluator for one Horizon 2020 call back in January this year, Dr Alexandra Simperler has been selected as monitor for three Horizon 2020 projects by the European Commission. This involves travelling to each meeting and creating a written report on the status of the respective projects.

Prizes and Awards

 
Professor Charlotte Williams has been awarded the RSC Corday-Morgan Prize 2016 for her work on polymer chemistry and catalysis and in particular recognition for her contributions to the catalytic activation of renewable resources to make polymers and fuels.

Dr Anna Barnard has been granted an Academy of Medical Sciences Springboard Award a bespoke package of support to non-clinical biomedical researchers at the start of their first independent post to help launch their research careers.  The award will cover the cost of hiring Dr Barnard’s first postdoctoral research associate for a period of one year. Anna will also have access to the Academy's mentoring and career development programme.

Helen Sharman has been awarded Fellowship of the Science Museum.  The Science Museum Fellows Programme was launched in 2009 as part of the Museum’s centenary celebrations, to recognise some of the scientists and individuals who have changed the world through academic research, design, technology and philanthropy. Helen’s name will soon be added to the illustrious list of Fellows.

Professor Sue Gibson has received a Royal Society of Chemistry Award for Service. The award recognises outstanding non-academic service to the work of the RSC community. Sue is currently Chair of the Researcher Mobility Grants Working Group and has been an RSC member for nearly 30 years and actively involved in RSC boards and committee for over 15 years.

Dr Yuval Elani (already a successful recipient of an EPSRC Doctoral Prize Fellowship) has recently been awarded a three-year EPSRC Fellowship for a project focussing on how cells can be interfaced with synthetic materials to yield hybrid living/synthetic assemblies for synthetic biology.  He will be partnering with researchers at Kings College London and Bar Ilan University (Israel), and will be affiliated with the EPSRC Capitals Network.

Sweetgen Ltd a spin-out company founded by Research Associate Dr Javier Rubio Garcia, Research PG Daniel Malko and Professor Anthony Kucernak has won first prize in the food and water category of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Emerging Technologies Competition 2016. SweetGen Ltd has designed a fuel cell-like system that not only generates electricity, but cleans up wastewater from industry at the same time. The system harnesses the low-quality fuels found in wastewater, producing energy but also helping to reduce pollution. The device is the first step towards faster, cheaper and more efficient methods of water treatment.
40 shortlisted entrants pitched their ideas to a panel of expert judges at Chemistry Means Business, a two-day event for the chemistry-using industry by the Royal Society of Chemistry. The winners were announced at an award ceremony hosted by TV personality Hugh Dennis, on 15 June as part of the same event.
Applications were judged on the degree of innovation of the technology, its potential impact, and the quality of the science behind it. SweetGen will receive tailored business support from one of our multinational partner companies, business training, media support, and a cash prize of £20,000.

BioNet a student start-up led by chemistry PhD students Will Joyce (Co-supervisor Professor Ed Tate), Nick Aristidou (supervisor Dr Saif Haque) and Stelios Chatzimichail (supervisor Dr Ali Salehi-Reyhani) was awarded first prize of £10k at this year’s Venture Catalyst Challenge. The company has developed edible plastic wrapping for hay bales and has generated much media interest with their unique product.

Chemistry recipients of the President's Awards 2016  
Chemistry recipients of the Faculty of Natural Sciences Annual Prizes for Excellence
The full list and previous winners can be found here
Excellence in Teaching:  Excellence in the Support of Teaching and Learning Excellence in Health and Safety
Student Prize
  • Jessica Shaw (Research PG)
Postdoc Prize Academic Staff Prize
Congratulations to Professor Phil Parsons for the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Health and Safety, recognising the outstanding contributions he has made to improving safety.

Stephen Chawner (supervisor Dr James Bull), won first prize at the SCI Postgraduate Symposium on Novel Organic Chemistry for his talk titled "Divergent Synthesis of Cyclopropane-Containing Fragments and Building Blocks for Drug Discovery”

Sarah Holliday (supervisor Professor Iain McCulloch) has been awarded a Springer Thesis Prize for her thesis Synthesis and Characterisation of Non-Fullerene Electron Acceptors for Organic Photovoltaics.

Gemma Trott (supervisor Professor Charlotte Williams) won the Geoffrey Wilkinson PhD Poster Prize at the Dalton 2016 conference. This competition was organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry and sponsored by the Wilkinson Trust. With over 150 posters in the PhD category, Gemma was shortlisted and then delivered an excellent flash presentation on her poster, which resulted in her winning the first prize of £1,000 towards a conference of her choice.

Rosie Croft (supervisor Dr James Bull) won first prize for her poster titled A Regiodivergent Catalytic Friedel-Crafts Route into Unprecedented 3,3-Diaryl Oxetane and Dihydrobenzofuran Motifs at a recent RSC Organic Division South East Regional Meeting.

Ang Li, a student on the MRes Nanomaterials course jointly supervised by Dr Rob Davies (Chemistry) and Camille Petit (Chemical Engineering), won a best poster prize for her poster “New Modified UiO-66 and UiO-66-NH2 MOF materials for CO2 / CH4 separations” at the European Material Research Society (ERMS) Spring Meeting 2016 which took place in Lille, France, 2-6 May 2016.

Plenary and Keynote Talks


Professor Nick Quirke gave a plenary lecture: Some challenges in the simulation of biological interfaces at the Molecular Simulation 2016, MS2016, meeting in Xi’an, China 16-18 April.  He also gave two graduate lectures at Xian Jiao Tong University in April: Applications of the Lanczos method and The Hartee Fock method.

Dr Matt Fuchter gave a Feature Presentation entitled “Profiling the ‘Methylome’ Targets of the Histone Lysine Methyltransferases: DOT1L” in the Epigenetic Inhibitor Discovery Theme of the Drug Discovery Chemistry 2016 meeting in San Diego, USA.
 
Professor Tom Welton gave the opening plenary lecture at the recent 7th Australian Symposium, on 23rd May, on Ionic Liquids in Newcastle Australia.

Professor Alexei Kornyshev was an invited speaker at the 13 June UK-Japan Symposium on Research Advances in Carbon Nanomaterials (including carbon nanotubes, nanowires, nanodiamonds, fullerenes and grapheme). The event was jointly organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry, The Chemical Society of Japan and JSPS London.
 
On Thursday 26 May Professor Paul Lickiss presented his inaugural lecture to a packed audience with his informative and entertaining talk In my element: adventures in silicon chemistry.  During the talk Paul took the audience on a journey through silicon life, and organic-silicon compounds for green energy storage explaining how as the second most common element in the Earth's crust, silicon is in everything from sand to windows, and from deodorants to the devices we read on.
 

Publications


The article Template-Stripped Multifunctional Wedge and Pyramid Arrays for Magnetic Nanofocusing and Optical Sensingarticle by Dr Joshua Edel, Professor Nick Long et al is featured on the front cover of the April edition of the ACS publication Applied Materials & Interfaces.

The paper on validation of NMT as an antimalarial drug target (Nature Chemistry 2014) Validation of N-myristoyltransferase as an antimalarial drug target using an integrated chemical biology approach by Professor Ed Tate et al has surpassed 50 citations, and has led to a drug development programme in collaboration with Medicines for Malaria Venture.
 
A paper Polymer nanofilms with enhanced microporosity by interfacial polymerisation  co-authored by Dr Kim Jelfs and published in Nature Materials has been highlighted on the College website.
 
A recent paper on the detection of carbon monoxide Chromo-fluorogenic probes for carbon monoxide detection co-authored by Dr James Wilton-Ely and recently qualified Dr Anita Toscani et al highlights the ingenious ways in which even low levels of this toxic gas can be monitored through colour changes or a fluorescence response.  The article was featured on the front cover of ChemComm with artwork by Dr Toscani.

A new joint study between the groups of Professor Alexei Kornyshev and Professor Mara Prentiss from the Physics Department of Harvard University reported new evidence that long identical sections of DNA (homologous genes) can match up with each other without any help of other molecules. The study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society A, demonstrates the attraction between such sections within a single DNA molecule. The Harvard team performed the experiments, while the Imperial group – with the first author of the paper, Honorary Research Associate, Dr Dominic James O’Lee – focused on analysis and interpretation of the data.  Read more

An article published in Advanced Materials Effect of Internal Electric Fields on Charge Carrier Dynamics in a Ferroelectric Material for Solar Energy Conversion by Professor James Durrant et al outlines how artificial photosynthesis is now a step closer with new process.

A team of researchers from Imperial College London including Professor Nick Long and Dr Tim Albrecht from the Department of Chemistry together with colleagues from the Universität Konstanz in Germany have created a series of rings containing ferrocene molecules directly linked together for the first time which could potentially be used for new applications in electronics and sensing.  The paper Oligomeric ferrocene rings has been published in Nature Chemistry and the researchers will now continue to investigate the electrical properties of the ring structures and how they might be used in computers, catalysts and other nanomaterials.

PhD student Joshua Green’s paper in Angew. Chemie. An Air-Stable Semiconducting Polymer Containing Dithieno[3,2-b:2',3'-d]arsole has recently been published as a VIP paper.  This is a collaborative effort led by Joshua and involving groups from Physics and Materials, as well as ourselves within the Centre for Plastic Electronics.

Grants


Econic Technologies the spinout company set up by Professor Charlotte Williams has raised additional funding of £5 million from investors towards the further development of its novel catalysts, which enable the integration of captured CO2 in the polymerisation process. This adds to the €2.9 million grant the company was awarded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 science framework programme.

Professor Ed Tate (as Co-I in collaboration with Prof Gary Frost from Medicine as PI) has been awarded a grant of £979k from BBSRC to work on the chemical biology of G-protein coupled fatty acid receptors in the gut, with the aim of understanding how diet and the gut microbiome control appetite.
He has also been awarded:
  • £250k Medicines for Malaria Venture portfolio grant for his proposal: Development of NMT inhibitors as novel antimalarials
  • £70k EPSRC Pathways to Impact Award for the project A prototype chemical brain shuttle: drug delivery to the CNS
  • £67k Imperial Confidence in Concept Grant for his application entitled Preclinical assessment of a lead NMT inhibitor as a novel anticancer agent.
  • £47k from the EPSRC Global Challenge Research Fund scheme for his projectTowards an improved therapy for endemic Burkitt’s Lymphoma: translating UK drug target chemistry for LMIC benefit.
Dr Tim Albrecht, Professor Nick Long and colleagues in Imperial Physics and Lancaster University have been awarded an EPSRC grant for their collaborative project Quantum-Interference-Enhanced Thermoelectricity (QUIET), the project will run over three years and will start this summer.  £718k of the funds will go to Imperial with the remaining £439k assigned to Lancaster.
 
Professors Alexei Kornyshev and Fernando Bresme along with external collaborator Professor Michael Urbakh have been awarded a £238k Leverhulme Trust grant for their 3-year project Electrotunable Nanoscale Friction: From full stall to superlubricity
 
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.

Dr Matt Fuchter was awarded a £60k Imperial Confidence in Concept Grant, together with Dr Geoff Baldwin (Life Sciences) and Prof. Simak Ali (Surgery and Cancer) entitled: The identification of inhibitors of uracil DNA glycosylase: a novel breast cancer target.

Dr James Bull has also been awarded £20k Kick Start funding for his proposal Diversity Oriented Synthesis of Chiral Saturated Heterocycles: A New Approach to a Screening Collection of Fragment and Lead-like Compounds.

Professor Ramon Vilar has been awarded £20k Kick Start funding for his proposal
New optical probes to image Formyl Peptide Receptors (FPRs).

Events


The Department had a strong and varied presence at the Imperial Festival this year with 6 chemistry-themed stalls as detailed on our website.
 
During the festival, as part of the Cancer Research UK Centre at Imperial College, Dr Monica Faronato, Dr Julia Morales Sanfrutos, Dr Charlotte Sutherell, and Mr Mostafa Jamshidiha, staff in Professor Ed Tate’s research group, ran a series of ten packed lab tours. The tours were a great success, and highlighted a cross-section of CRUK-funded research in the Department. Visitors loaded and ran their own protein gels, created multi-colour fluorescence images, and observed cancer cells under the microscope, whilst learning about our work identifying and validating new drug targets in cancer.

EMBRACE Sandpit                                                                                              
On 7-8 July 2016, over 30 investigators from Imperial College and Universities of Newcastle, Surrey and Warwick gathered at South Kensington Campus to participate at the first EPSRC-supported EMBRACE Sandpit to propose innovative solutions to address the antimicrobial resistance (AMR) challenge.
The four EMBRACE co-PI’s, Professors Chris Toumazou (Engineering), Alison Holmes (Medicine), Alan Armstrong (Natural Science) and Pantelis Georgiou (Engineering) were responsible for stimulating and provoking the participants with short talks and sharp questions. The three EMBRACE fellows, Doctors Lindsay Evans (Natural Science), Maryam Modarai (Medicine) and Pau Herrero (Engineering), were among the participants.
 
25th Anniversary - Helen Sharman and Mir Space Station

20 May saw the 25th anniversary of Helen Sharman docking at the Mir Space Station and there was much media coverage and a number of high-profile events in which Helen participated to celebrate. These included:
 
At the Science Museum: Helen was reunited with her space suit at a press event hosted at the Science Museum on 18 May and continued media interviews at Imperial.  On 21 May European astronauts related stories and answered questions to a public audience in a full IMAX theatre.
 
For Schools: Helen, her fellow Association of Space Explorers-Europe astronauts, and the cosmonauts who flew alongside her took part in a schools event on 20 May. Around 90 children aged between 9 – 12 watched Dr Simon Foster in ‘It is Rocket Science’ and then took part in a live Q&A with  Helen and the visiting astronauts, and simultaneously, the lecture was streamed live on the College YouTube channel and was followed by an online Q&A using Twitter. It is estimated that over 1,300 children participated online in the lecture, and the associated hashtags for the event were used online over a million times, across multiple countries!   These events were all highlighted on the College website

A reception for 200 people took place in the College Atrium during the evening of 20 May, showcasing Imperial’s Aerospace capabilities and celebrating Helen’s anniversary with 14 European astronauts and 3 cosmonauts. Andy Mogensen, the Danish astronaut and Imperial Alumnus, spoke with Tim Peake, whose call from the ISS was broadcast to the Reception.

Professor Chris Braddock organised and hosted the 14th annual 'Young Chemists' national meeting (YC16) in the Department of Chemistry. Excellent talks from recently appointed chemistry academics (the meeting's raison d'être) were delivered by speakers from Edinburgh University, Southampton University, King's College London, Imperial College London and University College London. The meeting was sponsored by Syngenta and AstraZeneca, and attracted an audience from both academia and industry.  The keynote lecture – traditionally given by an 'elder statesman' – was delivered with considerable aplomb by Professor Ian Paterson from Cambridge University.  The meeting highlighted the continued importance of chemical synthesis for the underpinning of chemical biology, biosynthesis investigations, catalysis and bond activation, crystallization methods and natural product synthesis.
PG Symposium

On 1 July 2016 the Department hosted the annual Chemistry PG Symposium showcasing the full range of cutting-edge and dynamic research undertaken by the Department’s 2nd & 3rd year PhD researchers. 
Also a week later on 8 July four chemistry PhD students presented posters at the annual Graduate School Research Symposium: Alastair Magness had the honour of winning the first prize of £500 for his poster at the Graduate School Symposium. Well done Alastair!
 






The winning poster by Aliastair Magness - Diagnosing cancer one cell at a time with single molecule spectroscopy
UG Finalists Dinner
The UG Finalists Dinner was on 7 June. We would like to thank the organising committee:

Jeroen Sap
Phil Morris
Nas Andriopoulos
Michelle Tan
Bruno Tambosso
Photo Credit: Montana Jade C. Francis

Outreach


Helen Sharman was featured on the 15 March edition of The Life Scientific on BBC Radio 4. In the episode Helen talked to Jim Al-Khalili about her experiences of being the first British astronaut.

Following this on 17 March Helen was team captain of the science and maths panel judging the senior finalists of the National Science and Engineering Competition at the Big Bang Fair in Birmingham.
 

Chemistry Outreach Programme

 The Chemistry Outreach team run a full and varied programme of events throughout the year; some of the highlights of the Spring/Summer programme include:
 
Salters Festival of Chemistry
On 21 April the Department hosted the annual Salters Festival, which saw 64 students in Y7 and Y8 attend with their teachers to undertake two chemistry-based challenges. The students were from 16 schools competing to win the two challenges, one set by the Salters Institute and the other by the Department. The schools were supported by eight UG and PG student ambassadors from the Department across all years of study.
 
This year saw two new elements to the festival – firstly, we welcomed back Alumna Nicole Jones (Chemistry 2003) representing GSK as one of the three judges, judging alongside Chris Howard and Dr Claire Sweetenham of the Outreach Office. Secondly, our own expert glassblower Steve Ramsey created a unique glass trophy for the winners of the University Challenge which was won by Gravesend Grammar School.

Chemistry Taster Day
60 students at the end of their Y12 studies visited the Department on 20 June to take part in the Chemistry Taster Day organised by Signe Liepina and Melanie Bottrill from the Outreach team. The participants undertook an example UG experiment in the morning, followed by sessions on admissions from Dr Andrew McKinley and life as an UG student from our student ambassadors, tours round the Department and an example lecture given by Professor Nick Long.

Newlands Lecture: From Waste to Wealth
140 Y10 – Y13 school students attended a lecture at Imperial on 29 June as part of this Chemistry Outreach event. The lecture was given by Professor James Clark of York University and was very well received, with the young audience asking lots of super questions. The event was funded and supported by the RSC (Chilterns and Middlesex Division) and the Chemistry Department.

Chemistry Work Experience Programmes
The Department hosted 10 students in Y12 during the week of 4 July. Each student experienced an induction day, along with support for university applications and sessions on communicating science, followed by three one-day shadowing placements with researchers within the Department. On the final day, students presented their experiences in a formal academic conference via presentations and posters. 

Year 11 Project STEM Summer School
The Department hosted 24 Y11 students for a week from 11 July, as part of a wider summer school run by the central Outreach team. The programme in Chemistry was designed to support students with the transition from GCSE to A-Level Chemistry, and focused on the development of skills and understanding of advanced topics. Students undertook practicals linked to titrations, organic chemistry, dyes and rates of reaction and finished the week with an independent research project supported by Shane Angoh (3rd year), Sade Picard (3rd year) and Emma Woodcock (final year) who were undergraduate mentors for the week.

Other News

Professor David Phillips unveiled a National Chemical Landmark plaque at Brockham Park, in Surrey, on the former site of Beecham Research Laboratories where a large number of strains of penicillin were discovered and developed.

On 4 May Professor Emeritus David Phillips had the honour of being invited to lunch with Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. David reports that it was a much more relaxed affair than anticipated as there were only 8 guests present, and he got to speak at some length to both hosts who were both on good form. As the Palace only hosts 4 such lunches per year it was indeed a great honour for Prof Phillips to be invited!
 
Drs Kim Jelfs & James Bull were both featured in an article showcasing their research on the College website.

Chemistry UG Student Lauren Dennis led her team The Velox Group, including fellow Chemistry UG Jakub Vaith, to the final 6 of the highly competitive Althea-Imperial Final on 3 May with their Livestock Disease Test Kit - a low-cost, simple infield test for the detection of livestock diseases.  The Althea-Imperial Programme is designed to inspire a new generation of women in science, technology and business.
 
As a participant of the Althea­-Imperial Programme Lauren is happy to talk with any chemistry PG or UG students thinking of applying for this year’s programme which starts again in October (applications close 19th October). She reported that: “Althea was a wonderful experience that I’d highly recommend to any female student at Imperial. It’s great to be able to meet and socialise with masters and PhD students. It was inspiring having workshops run by successful female tech CEOs and founders, including Imperial Chemistry alumni Vivien and Caroline who subsequently founded Clotho, an eco-friendly, sustainable fashion e-commerce start-up.”

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