The 2017 Macro Group Jon Weaver PhD Prize has been awarded to Dr Charlotte J. Mable at the University of Sheffield for her PhD thesis “Block Copolymer Nanoparticles Prepared by RAFT Aqueous Polymerisation”.
Under the supervision of Prof. Steve Armes, Charlotte designed, synthesized and evaluated a series of new nanoparticles known as ‘framboidal vesicles’ for potential applications ranging from efficient emulsion stabilisers to drug delivery vehicles. Working closely with Dr. Sasha Mykhaylyk, Charlotte visited the Diamond Light Source in Oxford and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble to analyse her nanoparticles using small-angle x-ray scattering (SAXS). She also collaborated with Dr. Irene Canton to prepare biocompatible nanoparticles under sterile conditions for cell biology experiments. Thus Charlotte gained some experience of soft matter physics and cell biology during her PhD studies in addition to her core disciplines of synthetic polymer chemistry and colloid science.
Charlotte’s research has yielded six primary publications in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (1), Chemical Science (2), Macromolecules (2) and Macromolecular Rapid Communications (1), with a seventh manuscript in preparation. Her latest publication was selected for the back cover artwork for the February 2018 issue of Chemical Science. During her PhD, Charlotte also worked with research groups at the Universities of Edinburgh and Hull as well as teams based in Germany, Australia and Switzerland. These collaborations have yielded eight additional joint publications, with further manuscripts in preparation. Charlotte presented her PhD results at several national and international conferences, including the 2014 ACS National Meeting held in San Francisco where she was awarded a poster prize.
Aside from her scientific achievements, Charlotte managed to get married, renovate two houses and have a baby during her four-year PhD degree. After taking maternity leave, Charlotte has returned to the University of Sheffield as a part-time postdoctoral research associate under the supervision of Prof. Steve Armes. She is currently extending her PhD studies to design synthetic mimics of the Dengue fever virus for anti-cancer therapies.