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Complex Life of Sugars

9 July 2013

Researchers from the School took part in the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition last week in London.

Dr Bruce Turnbull and his PhD students Tom Branson and Kristian Hollingsworth joined scientists from the Universities of Manchester, Liverpool, Imperial College and the John Innes Centre to present an exhibit called the Complex Life of Sugars. The team spent the week telling the public about the importance of carbohydrates in all aspects of our lives from the initial interactions between a sperm and an egg, to materials and energy production. The photo shows Tom and Kristian with former MSc Chemical Biology student Mike Rugen (far left) wearing t-shirts displaying the sugar symbols for N-acetylglucosamine, galactose and glucose.

The team also promoted a new glycoscience computer game commissioned by the Royal Society. In “Cell Invaders” you have to construct oligosaccharides using sugar symbols and throw them at various cell invaders to stop them sticking to your own cell surface (somehow BruceT appears twice in the global leader board...). The game won more than half of the public vote for the best computer game at the exhibition and will be developed further by the Royal Society.

TV impressionist Jon Culshaw stopped by the exhibit during the “dinner jacket and decorations” soirée on Thursday evening. Jon raced against Tom Branson in the “Fertilisation Game” and tweeted about the exhibit afterwards.

A great introductory video on The Complex Life of Sugars is available on YouTube. And more information about the exhibit is available on the blog, including an article about the Turnbull group’s work on bacterial toxins.

New Chemistry graduates

9 July 2013

The class of 2013 received their degrees at a graduation ceremony this afternoon.

After the ceremony the School hosted a reception for graduates and their guests and the formal year photograph was taken.

Quantum tunnelling speeds up chemical reactions in Space

1 July 2013

In interstellar clouds, reactions that have an activation barrier have previously been considered too slow to be significant because of the low temperatures experienced.

However, in work just published in Nature Chemistry by Robin Shannon, Mark Blitz, Andrew Goddard and Dwayne Heard,  large enhancements in the rate coefficient for the reaction of OH with methanol have now been observed at temperatures below 100 K. As well as observing the large acceleration in the rate of this reaction at very low temperatures, the researchers also experimentally observed one of the products, namely the methoxy radical (CH3O), which is separated from the reactants by a substantial energy barrier.

A mechanism involving quantum mechanical tunnelling has been proposed to explain these findings. Further details can be found in the University press release. This paper has attracted attention from New Scientist, Scientific American and several other publications.

Postgraduate Symposium

26 June 2013

The annual School of Chemistry Postgraduate Symposium took place on June 13th and 14th with two days of fantastic poster presentations and talks from our 2nd and 3rd year postgraduate students.

The symposium was rounded off by a plenary lecture from Prof Jonathan Clayden (Manchester) and the PG ball complete with live band and ceilidh. The event was kindly sponsored by Sumitomo Chemical; RSC; Takeda; Rydale, PEL; The Worshipful Company of Clothworkers and the Worshipful Company of Dyers.

Congratulations to all presenters, prize winners were Valeria Azzarito, James Henkelis, David Yeo and Rianne Lord for talks, and Tom Roberts, Steven Kane, Rebecca Caravan and Stephanie Orr for posters. The Kate Furneaux prize for non-academic contribution to school postgraduate life was awarded to David Yeo.

Thanks to Andrew Brown for the photograph and everyone on the PG committee.

Conference Talk Prize!

24 June 2013

Final year PhD student, Saminu Magami, won first prize for a talk he gave at the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) meeting held in York on Thursday 20th June.

The title of his talk was "Melamino migrants, their creation and their migration from amino resin crosslinker-based, food contact coating compositions". Saminu, who is supervised by Prof. Jim Guthrie and sponsored for his PhD research by a consortium including Valspar, Heinz Foods and FERA, received a certificate, a medal and a £100 Amazon voucher.

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