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Green light for new physical sciences research development

The University’s ambitious plans for advancing physical sciences and engineering have been given the green light.

To be completed by the summer 2020, the £96m development will bring researchers in Chemistry together with colleagues in the School of Computing, School of Physics and Astronomy and Engineering for the first time.

The investment aims to provide an exceptional environment for students, creating state-of-the-art facilities that will rival the best in the UK.

The Bragg Centre for Advanced Functional Materials will be the new home for the University’s internationally-recognised activity in materials characterisation and analysis of soft matter and nanostructured thin films.
It is named after Sir William Henry Bragg, the early 20th century mathematician and physicist who developed X-Ray crystallography at Leeds, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1915 for his work together with his son Sir William Lawrence Bragg.

The Bragg Centre will also be the location for to the University’s research in functional materials and devices, which is part of the UK-wide Henry Royce Institute. This institute brings together world-leading academics from across the UK to study and develop advanced materials, with Leeds’ specialism in Atoms-to-Devices and the translation of new material systems from the atomic scale to operational device.

Professor Steve Scott, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences, said:

“We are creating an exceptional environment to carry out cutting-edge research; the interplay between people, working culture, equipment and buildings will be central to creating the highest quality findings and original ideas.

The quality of our research, brought about through leading facilities and the exceptional breadth of our academic staff will drive external partnerships and attract international support, leading to greater depth in funding bids and a rise in standards of research.”

The University’s undergraduate and thriving postgraduate and postdoctoral communities will benefit, with the investment prioritising world-class teaching and laboratory spaces for research-based learning. The news comes as the University prepares to launch the Leeds Doctoral College, to further support postgraduate researchers.

More information >

School of Chemistry scores highly for student satisfaction and employability

The School of Chemistry scored 92% for overall student satisfaction in the latest National Student Survey (NSS).

This excellent result reflects the commitment of all of our staff to providing a rewarding student experience, which was recognised earlier this year when the School received the Partnership Award

The University overall has also performed well, achieving a score of 89%.

The School has also had excellent results in the latest Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education Survey. The results showed that over 94% of our recent graduates have successfully secured employment or gone on to further study within six months of graduating. 

Recent graduate destinations include Covance, GlaxoSmithKline and AkzoNobel.

Further information

The NSS gathers feedback from mostly final-year undergraduate students about their experience studying their course at their institution. The University of Leeds had a 70% response rate. More detailed results are available on the HEFCE website.

The Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey collects information on what all leavers from higher education (HE) programmes are doing six months after qualifying from their HE course. 

Graduate wins prestigious Salters’ Award

Holly Foster, MChem, BSc Chemistry graduate, has won a 2017 Salters’ Graduate Award.

The Salters’ Graduate Awards celebrate the achievements of undergraduate students in chemistry and chemical engineering. Each year the Salters’ Institute offers up to ten graduate awards, each of £1,000, to final-year UK undergraduates who are set to achieve a first class honours degree. 

This is the second consecutive year that a graduate of the School of Chemistry has received this prestigious award, with MChem, BSc Medicinal Chemistry graduate Daniel Price receiving the 2016 prize.

Candidates are nominated by their university’s chemistry or chemical engineering department and those shortlisted are interviewed by a panel of academics and industry figures. Award winners must demonstrate the potential to occupy a leading position in public life through employment in the chemical or related industries. They are also assessed on their intellectual abilities, capacity to initiate and communication skills.

On receiving the prize, Holly said:

“I was thrilled to even be nominated by the School for the award, as there are so many extremely talented chemists in the year, so I could not quite believe it when I was awarded one of five national awards for chemistry. I think one of the main reasons that I was lucky enough to be chosen was a result of my efforts to start and chair the School’s first student-led health and safety committee. This met several of their criteria such as ‘capacity to initiate’ ‘ability to communicate his/her interest and enthusiasm to a wider audience’ and ‘ability to enlist the co-operation of others, whether colleagues or subordinates’. 

“The main aim for the committee was to introduce a new health and safety culture into the department, which would have students at the forefront. To achieve this a new ‘near-miss’ reporting system has been introduced. The idea for this arose from my industrial placement year in AstraZeneca, at the Macclesfield site, where I worked for 6 months in process chemistry, and another 6 months in crystallisation.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank all members of the committee for all of their hard work and most importantly their enthusiasm for health and safety matters. Without them the committee would not have flourished and had such an impact in the running of the school.

“What’s next for me? I am currently on a summer placement at AstraZeneca in Cambridge where I am gaining some experience in medicinal chemistry. In September I will be returning to Leeds to start my 4 year PhD programme run by the British Heart Foundation. As part of this I will be designing, making and testing compounds for the treatment of thrombosis. I think this will give me excellent exposure to the drug design process, which will ultimately equip me with the requisite skills to become a successful medicinal chemist in the pharmaceutical industry. 

“This is the second consecutive year that a chemist from Leeds has won the award, which is testament to the level of teaching in the department. I would also like to say a big thanks to Dan Price, Chris Rayner, John Blacker and Steve Marsden for their advice and supporting my application. I’m thoroughly looking forward to networking with industry experts at the award ceremony in December at Salters’ Hall.”

Steve Marsden, Head of the School of Chemistry, commented: 

“This is tremendous recognition of Holly’s efforts – Salters’ awards are widely recognised honours, and their focus on leadership potential marks them out as requiring more than just academic excellence. We’ve been lucky to benefit from the efforts of Holly and her colleagues who set up the SHE committee – they demonstrated true leadership, setting out a vision and bringing the cohort of students with them. The structure that Holly has helped put in place will serve the School well for years to come. All of this was achieved while maintaining outstanding academic performance as well, which is no mean feat. We’re very proud to have had our graduates recognised in this way by the Salters’ Institute in each of the past two years – it shows the standards that our students strive for and reach.”

Congratulations Holly!

£3.4 million collaborative programme addresses protein-protein interactions

A major £3.4 million project, bringing together academics from across the universities of Leeds and Bristol with industrial partners, aims to deepen understanding of interactions between proteins.

The EPSRC-funded PoPPI (Perturbation of Protein-Protein Interactions) project is a five-year collaborative programme involving members of Leeds’ Wilson, Nelson and Edwards groups, the University of Bristol, Northern Institute of Cancer Research (Newcastle University), AstraZeneca and Domainex.

The PoPPI project focuses on the development of computational and chemical tools to classify protein-protein interactions (PPI) and use the resultant insight to synthesise molecules, which act as selective inhibitors and which can be used as chemical probes. Understanding and modulating the PPIs will increase the knowledge of the underlying mechanisms of diseases, such as cancer and the neurodegenerative diseases, e.g. Alzheimer’s, Huntingdon’s and Parkinson’s.

A short video introducing the PoPPI project to the scientific and wider communities was recently produced, featuring members of the PoPPI team. Further information about the programme can be found on the PoPPI website.

Professor John Plane elected as a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union

Professor John Plane from the School of Chemistry has been elected as a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union for his work in Space Physics and Aeronomy.

When announcing the nomination the American Geophysical Union stated: “Professor Plane has made fundamental discoveries and breakthroughs in several fields of importance to aeronomy and atmospheric chemistry. 

“He is best known for his study of the metal layers in the upper atmosphere that result from the ablation of cosmic dust particles, but he has in fact made substantial contributions to understanding the chemistry of all regions of the Earth’s atmosphere. His work has had sustained scientific impact since the early 1980s. His citation would read “for his outstanding contributions to understanding the chemistry of the Earth’s upper atmosphere.”

Established in 1962, the Fellows programme recognises American Geophysical Union members who have made exceptional contributions to Earth and space sciences as valued by their peers and vetted by a committee of Fellows. The Fellows programme serves to meet the need for identified authorities who could advise, upon request, the various government agencies and other organizations outside the Earth and space sciences

The American Geophysical Union (AGU) is the world’s pre-eminent organization of geophysicists, consisting of over 62,000 members from 144 countries. With headquarters in Washington DC, it was founded in 1919. The Fellows programme recognises AGU members who have made exceptional contributions to Earth and space sciences as valued by their peers and vetted by a committee of Fellows. A maximum of 0.1% of the membership of the AGU can be elected as Fellows each year.

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