Over the past year alumni and friends of the Department of Chemistry have raised more than £815,000 for the Chemistry@50 Appeal.
These gifts have made a huge impact, helping students and early career researchers to achieve their ambitions, and accelerating the development of globally important research. Here are just some of their stories.
First year student Alice McEllin received a bursary for a summer research internship working with Professor Duncan Bruce on an Investigation into the Trans Influence: A Spectroscopic Study.
I found the summer research project a fantastic experience. I learned a lot of new techniques, such as using a schlenk line and running and interpreting NMRs, and became a lot more confident in the lab. I also got to see what goes on behind the scenes in a research environment that you don’t normally see as a first year undergrad, ranging from taking the waste out to changing the pump oil! It was also amazing making compounds that had never been made before.
James Southwell also received a bursary and worked with Professor David Smith on a challenging project, Probing Micelles for Heparin Sensing.
From this experience in a professional research environment I enhanced my project organisation and skills. My scientific approach and standard of work improved through exposure to such an environment: learning new lab techniques, data collection and interpretation, and presentation of my findings via report and presentation to the research group. The entire experience was thoroughly enjoyable, and I really appreciate the generosity of the donors who supported me.
Doctoral candidate Babatunde Okesola has been able to study at York thanks to a donor-funded scholarship. He has had a particularly successful year and was named as one of the RSC’s 175 Faces of Chemistry. He has also been recognised for developing an innovative way of using a gel to extract precious metals such as silver and gold from waste, and convert them into conducting nanoparticles to form a hybrid nanomaterial potentially suitable for a range of high-tech applications.
During my PhD at York I have investigated the ability of hydrogels to remove heavy metals from water with exceptional uptake of metal ions. I have also not only used the same hydrogel to recover noble metals, specifically gold and silver, from water but also convert them into nanoparticles without the addition of external excipients. These inorganic-organic hybrid nanomaterials have been probed for applications as conductive hydrogels for electrocatalysis and electroconductivity.
Dr Ryan Hossaini is the first holder of the Eleanor Dodson Fellowship at the Wolfson Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratories. This Fellowship has been funded by a generous gift from Chemistry alumnus Bryan Gray and his wife Lydia, who gave in response to the Chemistry@50 Appeal. Ryan has previously worked at the Universities of Leeds and Cambridge, and is now conducting vital work which will enable scientists and policy-makers to predict climate variability more accurately.
My research examines changes in the chemical composition of Earth’s atmosphere and how such changes influence climate. This involves use of state-of-the-art numerical models, run on supercomputers, which simulate the past, present and future state of the atmosphere. Funding through the Chemistry@50 Appeal is allowing me to develop the next generation of such models that will be used to reduce uncertainty on predictions of future climate change.