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Summer placement successes

17 October 2014

Sixteen undergraduate students presented research carried out during summer placements at a specially organised symposium on Wednesday 15th October.

There was a variety of different talks ranging from synthetic organic, organometallic and bioorganic chemistry to analytical, physical and computational chemistry. There were also talks from students who had carried out pedagogical research. The event was sponsored by the RSC and Proctor and Gamble, with Dr Adam Hayward (pictured) from P&G attending the symposium and giving a talk. Dr Andrew Thomas from Roche also gave a talk. Prizes were awarded for the best talks to Rachel Kearsey (pictured) who carried out a placement in the group of Dr Gould (Title: Copper pyrazolate metal organic frameworks) and Robert Evans (pictured) who carried out a placement in the group of Prof. Whitaker (Title: Computational chemistry calculations exploring the reaction pathways of spiropyran).

The School of Chemistry at Leeds hosts several undergraduate students in the research laboratories over the summer (30 students in 2014). Funding is provided by the School, Wellcome Trust, RSC, EPSRC, Society of Biology, Industry and the Clothworkers Innovation Fund. For more details please contact Dr Charlotte Willans (

Icy Worlds

14 October 2014

The NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) and the School of Chemistry will strengthen their links in a new hub.

The NAI hub is to be coordinated by PI Dr. Isik Kanik and colleagues at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

This new $8M Icy Worlds centre brings together 17 collaborating research labs across USA, Japan and Europe, with the Leeds being the only UK-based participant.

The centre will support bilateral visits between the Kee group and JPL to facilitate our on-going collaboration on geo-fuel cell simulators of far-from-equilibrium geological environments.

Student Placement Award

14 October 2014

Congratulations to Prema Ghasemi who has won Student Placement of the Year Award for her time spent at GlaxoSmithKline.

This award recognises the significant contributions students make to their host organisation, with placement supervisors nominating students who they feel had been exceptional on placement, going beyond the call of duty or making a significant impact to the success of the business. Prema, who has now returned to Leeds to complete her MedChem degree, said that she was honored to have represented the School of Chemistry in this competition.

The photograph was taken at the Placement Year Celebration Event where Prema received her award. The presenter said on the evening that ‘the judges felt the winner demonstrated outstanding development of both technical and personal skills during the placement. Their supervisor commented that “in 24 years of supervision, I cannot remember a student who has developed further, both in practical synthetic skills and wider contribution to her team and beyond…. her attention to detail and scientific rigour was exemplary”. During the placement this student identified several issues around duplication and inefficiency. They suggested, created, communicated and sought feedback on possible ways to improve processes and then implemented these. These changes resulted in cost savings in terms of both time and resources, highlighting that placement students can make significant changes in global organisations too’.

Breakthrough allows researchers to watch molecules “wiggle”

13 October 2014

A new crystallographic technique developed at the University of Leeds is set to transform scientists’ ability to observe how molecules work.

A research paper, published in the journal Nature Methods, describes a new way of doing time-resolved crystallography, a method that researchers use to observe changes within the structure of molecules. Although fast time-resolved crystallography (Laue crystallography) has previously been possible, it has required advanced instrumentation that is only available at three sites worldwide. Only a handful of proteins have been studied using the traditional technique.

The new method will allow researchers across the world to carry out dynamic crystallography and is likely to provide a major boost in areas of research that rely on understanding how molecules work, such as the development of novel smart materials or new drugs.

Co-author Professor Godfrey Beddard, Emeritus Professor of Chemical Physics at the University of Leeds, said: “We demonstrate this method for crystallography, but it will work for any time-resolved experiment where the probe can be encoded. This new method means that, instead of having to go to one of the three instruments in the world that can currently do time-resolved crystallography, you can go to any beamline at any synchrotron—basically it massively opens the field for these kind of experiments.”

See the full press release here

Quiz winners

25 September 2014

Our new undergraduate students explored the campus as part of their induction.

Some 180 new students met their peer assisted learning mentors and set off to complete a quiz exploring the University campus. Henry's Crew were the winners!

The event finished at the Terrace with drinks and nibbles.

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