The Jon Weaver PhD Prize sponsored by Synthomer rewards the best PhD students in the field of Polymer Science in the UK. The prize is awarded to a PhD student who has displayed an outstanding ability across a range of criteria throughout their PhD.
The 2015 Macro Group PhD Prize has been awarded to Dr Giovanna Sicilia from the University of Nottingham.
Her thesis was entitled “Synthesis of Programmable Nucleic Acid – Polymer Conjugates with Sensing and Signalling Capabilities”. Giovanna worked under the supervision of Prof. C. Alexander and developed novel nucleic acid – polymer conjugates capable of sensing DNA binding events through hybridization and dehybridization processes al-owing amplification of these 3-5 nm scale events into macroscale signals using optical and nuclear magnetic resonance techniques.
During her PhD, Giovanna spent a month at the world-leading Australian Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN), University of Queensland, working in the group of Dr Kristofer Thurecht. Her work has been published in leading chemical and polymer journals (e.g. Polymer Chemistry, Nanoscale, Biomaterial Science, Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics) and highlighted in several press releases (e.g. EPSRC; an interview for BBC Radio and Nottingham University). Giovanna presented her research at various national and international conferences, winning 2 national prizes for best oral presentation (e.g. UKICRS symposium, Macro Group UK Young Researchers Meeting). Her research interests include theranostic biopolymers, gene delivery, cancer therapeutics and advanced imaging techniques.
In January 2015, Giovanna was awarded an EPSRC Doctoral Prize, for which she is currently developing nanopatterned polymeric surfaces with inherent anticancer activity in the School of Pharmacy, Physics and Medicine of the University of Nottingham and the National Institute of Metrological Research (INMRI) in Turin (Italy).