YRM 2018 – Report

By Shona O’Brien (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland), one of the organisers of YRM 2018

At this year’s YRM we hosted over 150 attendees, representing 23 UK universities, 6 Irish universities, the USA, and South Africa. We had 29 oral presentations, including a post-doctoral session, all of an extremely high standard. We also had three plenary presentations from academics who shared their invaluable experiences of the ups and downs of a career in academia and inspired our young researchers. We were delighted to host 75 poster presentations of an exceptionally high standard.

Prizes for best presentation were provided by CÚRAM, the prize for best presentation in our post-doctoral session was provided by Merck, and there were also prizes for the best poster presentations. In all cases, the judges had an extremely difficult time in choosing the winners (for a full list of winners see our twitter @MacroYRM2018 #YRM2018).

We are especially grateful to all our sponsors (Macro Group UK, Particular Sciences, ThermoFisher, PSS, Intavis, NSP, Bruker, lennox, and Elementec) ; without their generosity, this event would not have been possible.

YRM2018

(Left to right) Presentation of prizes by Prof Andreas Heise. Best oral presentation winners: Mehri Behbehani (University of Sheffield), Alex Wright (University of Kent), James Wilson (University of Akron). Best poster presentation winners: Mthulisi Khuphe (University of Leeds), Deborah Beattie (University of Sheffield), Ben Graham (University of Warwick).

DH Richards Travel Bursary Report 2018

By Josh Tibbetts (Bath University) who attended the Pure and Applied Chemistry Conference (PACCON) in Hat Yai, Thailand

In February 2018, I was lucky enough to travel to Thailand with other members of the Bull and James groups to attend the Pure and Applied Chemistry Conference (PACCON) in Hat Yai, Thailand. The theme of the conference was Chemistry Towards a Sustainable Future so it was a perfect opportunity to learn about the latest world leading research in sustainable chemistry and also to present my own PhD findings there.

Before attending PACCON, we attended Walailak University for a joint Postgraduate Symposium with the Harding group. This was a great chance to present our research to an international audience and also to meet and network with Thai students from the university. It was interesting to hear about the differences between Bath and Walailak. For example, it was inspiring to learn that the postgraduate chemistry research community was predominantly female in a traditionally male-dominated field. Something which I was less excited to learn about was the presence of the occasional poisonous snake on campus which made me feel bad for moaning about the ducks at Bath occasionally stealing my lunch.

Tibbetts 1

After that, we made the four hour journey by road to Hat Yai in the south of Thailand for the conference, stopping along the way at a rural Thai restaurant where we tried everything from traditional local fish dishes to the less traditional ‘Red Fanta’. Once we got to PACCON we saw a number of talks about new and exciting chemistry. A personal highlight for me was seeing Professor David Macmillan from Princeton University talk about his research in photoredox catalysis. It was also great to present my research during a very busy poster session. There was a lot of interest in mine and Maria O’s work and by the end we were worn out from answering the many questions which came our way during the two hour presentation. We then went to watch Maria W give her talk during the Natural products and biological chemistry session and she gave a very well-polished and interesting presentation!

After that, we made the four hour journey by road to Hat Yai in the south of Thailand for the conference, stopping along the way at a rural Thai restaurant where we tried everything from traditional local fish dishes to the less traditional ‘Red Fanta’. Once we got to PACCON we saw a number of talks about new and exciting chemistry. A personal highlight for me was seeing Professor David Macmillan from Princeton University talk about his research in photoredox catalysis. It was also great to present my research during a very busy poster session. There was a lot of interest in mine and Maria O’s work and by the end we were worn out from answering the many questions which came our way during the two hour presentation. We then went to watch Maria W give her talk during the Natural products and biological chemistry session and she gave a very well-polished and interesting presentation!

Tibbetts 2

There was some unusual entertainment at the conference dinner, including somebody playing several instruments while walking around the room and serenading individual members of the audience. There was also a giant game of rock, paper, scissors between everybody at the dinner and I’m still not quite sure how they worked out the winners of that. Last, but by no means least, we were lucky enough to be able to see Princess Chulabhorn of Thailand who was officially opening the conference and presenting the speakers with awards. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take any pictures but it was a once in a lifetime experience to be in the front row as a member of the Thai royal family entered the building!

Of course, it would be impossible to travel all the way to Thailand and not visit the other amazing places that it has to offer. Aside from the conference, we also visited some of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen, the Grand Palace in Bangkok and Wat Pho temple which has a giant reclining Buddha statue. As well as these various photo opportunities, we also were able to experience the famous nightlife of Phuket, and navigate the traffic and markets in Bangkok centre! Overall, this was an amazing opportunity to attend an international conference and present research abroad. I am thankful to both the CDT and MacroGroup UK for funding the trip.

MacroGroup UK Medal Winners Symposium 2017

By Prof Paul Topham and Dr Elena Patyukova (Aston University)

Supported by Lizi Rogers from the RKE, Professor Paul Topham and Dr Elena Patyukova of the Aston Institute of Materials Research (AIMR) hosted this year’s prestigious MacroGroup UK Medal Winners Symposium at Aston University on 10th November.MGUK 2017

All MacroGroup medal-winning speakers presented their work during the one-day meeting. In the morning, after a short introduction to the meeting, Prof Ian Hamley (2016 Macro Group UK Medal), presented his work on “Peptides and Peptide Conjugates: From Self-Assembly to Bioactivity”, followed by a talk given by Dr Theoni Georgiou (2016 Young Researchers Medal) on “Well-Defined Thermoresponsive Polymers”.

Winners of the 2015 and 2016 Jon Weaver PhD Prize,  Dr. Giovanna Sicilia  and Dr Charalampos Pappas gave their presentation in the afternoon. Professor Nikos Hadjichristidis (2016 Medal for Outstanding Achievement) closed the meeting with a presentation on “The Importance of Model Macromolecules in Polymer Physics and Polymer Industry”.

 

 

DH Richards Travel Bursary Report 2018

By Sam Parkinson (University of Leeds) who attended the IUPAC World Polymer Congress (Macro 2018)

The IUPAC World polymer congress – Macro 2018 was held from 1st July-5th July at the Cairns Convention Centre. Over the 5 days there was a wide range of presentations, with up to 10 parallel sessions, covering all aspects of polymer science and engineering. The quality of both presentations and research presented was outstanding. Seeing presentations from such a broad spectrum of researchers, such as PhD students, post-docs, academic professors and industrial representatives was very enjoyable and informative. Particularly presentations by Prof. Brent Summerlin (University of Florida) and Prof. Cyrille Boyer (UNSW) on their respective research into polymer synthesis were highlights for me. This was my first time giving an oral presentation at a conference and my oral presentation “Evaluating continuous-flow platforms for rapid kinetic profiling of ultrafast RAFT polymerization” went well and I received plenty of positive feedback. Seeing that I could present my work at such a high-profile conference, full of experts in my field and be able to generate positive feedback greatly boosted my confidence as a researcher. It was also exciting to hear other groups research in polymer flow chemistry, one of my areas of interest. I would like to acknowledge my supervisor Dr. Nicholas Warren and Macro Group UK for providing my the opportunity to attend this conference.

DH Richards Travel Bursary Report 2018

By Julia Rho (University of Warwick) who attended the 256th ACS National Meeting & Exposition, Boston, Massachusetts (USA)

The ACS National Meeting is a bi-annual conference showcasing chemical research from all over the world. This summer, the 256th ACS National Conference was held in Boston, and with the generous support from the Macro Group UK, I was lucky enough to attend and share my own research. The focus of this conference was ‘Nanoscience, Nanotechnology & Beyond’.

With the large venue, number of attendees estimated around 16,000+ and 30 different divisions; it was somewhat hard at times to choose which talks to join. The ACS Division of Polymer Chemistry (POLY) and the Division of Polymeric Materials Science and Engineering (PMSE) provided a great program of incredible talks by leaders in the field and exciting new on-going research. Outside of the talks it was a great opportunity to reconnect with past colleagues and make new friends in the fields I was interested in. Exciting symposia organised by the two divisions to celebrate Awardees’ contributions to the field, were filled with great speakers. Biomacromolecules/Macromolecules Young Investigator Award was given this year to Prof. Jeremiah Johnson and Prof. Matthew Gibson. We heard about the exciting work they were doing in their own group on polymer metal-organic cages (polyMOC) and cryo-preservants polymers respectively. Before their talks, we heard from friends and colleagues of the awardees, about work which has been mutual influenced. Talks included eminent chemists in the field of polymers including Prof. Craig Hawker and Prof. Karen Wooley.

New and upcoming fields were showcased throughout the week, in particular the tremendous progress made in ‘Vitrimers and Covalent Adaptable Networks’ by the groups of Chris Bowman and Flip Du Prez were of significant note.

On the Monday, I presented and shared my recent findings of my PhD, in the field of supramolecular cyclic peptide nanotubes. My work focuses on the controlling the dynamic nature of non-covalent self-assembling peptide-based structures.

I would like to thank the Macro Group UK and DH Richards Memorial Grant for giving me this wonderful opportunity to attend this exciting conference and share my research on an international stage.

ACS 2018

DH Richards Travel Bursary Report 2018

By Rachel Atkinson who attended the IUPAC World Polymer Congress (Macro 2018), 1st-5th July 2018, Cairns, Australia.

With the support of the D H Richards Memorial Bursary, I was able to attend the IUPAC World Polymer Congress (known as Macro 2018) from the 1st-5th July 2018. This is a world-renowned polymer conference which takes place biennially, this year in Cairns, Australia. The 5-day conference covered a wide range of topics within polymer chemistry and attracted a large number of leading researchers from around the world.

This was the first international conference I had attended, and I was very pleased to be given the opportunity to give an oral presentation at such a large scale event. I presented my work, titled ‘Synthesis of Renewable, Hard-Soft Block Copolymers via the RAFT Polymerisation of Terpene (Meth)acrylates’ within the ‘Renewable Resources and Biopolymers’ theme. I was asked thought-provoking questions about my work and where I hope to take it, and received several useful suggestions from people during and after my talk.

I saw a huge number of talks that were very engaging and often useful for my own research. I particularly enjoyed seeing the other presentations from the renewable resources theme, as this is related to my current work. However, I also was very interested in research presented in other themes such as ‘Recent Developments in Polymer Design’, ‘Smart and Functional Polymers’ and ‘Innovation and Industry’ in which I got the chance to see cutting edge research that is going on around the world.

Overall, this experience has improved my confidence and I appreciated having the opportunity to promote my research. I also learnt a lot about the field in general, as well as gaining ideas for my own work, and building contacts who might be able to help me in the future. I would like to thank Macro Group UK for awarding me the D H Richards Memorial Bursary, which made this possible.

DH Richards Travel Bursary Report 2018

By Marleen Wilde (University of Reading) who attended the 6th International Symposium of Biomedical Applications of Dendrimers (Biodendrimer 2018), 4th – 7th June, Urbino, Italy

With the generous contributions of the D.H. Richards Memorial Bursary I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Biodendrimer meeting in the beautiful world-heritage town of Urbino in Italy. This meeting is a specialised conference on the applications and advances in dendrimer nanomedicines, and current research was disseminated via posters and oral presentations. It was only a small conference with approximately 50-60 attendees, but this created a familiar and informal atmosphere that was very relaxing.

I had the opportunity to present my PhD research in oral talk (~25 min, Title: Biophysical studies of PAMAM interactions with membrane models) to the very knowledgeable audience and had a very helpful research discussion and positive feedback afterwards. The 45-min plenary lectures were given by numerous well-known experts in the field, and my personal highlights were the inspiring lectures of Prof Donald Tomalia (the “father” of the PAMAM dendrimers I am working with, Dendritic Nanotechnologies Inc, NanoSynthons LLC) and Prof Barbara Klajnert-Maculewicz focussing on fluorescence phenomena in dendrimers (University of Lodz, Poland).

Wilde 2018

The coffee and lunch breaks offered good opportunities to network and informal discussions on recent research and research needs. Additionally I attended the official and a smaller unofficial ad hoc conference dinner, which was very enjoyable and useful for deeper networking. I connected well with a Portuguese group based in Lisbon, who were very interested in the techniques I use and like to start a collaboration maybe with an ERASMUS project student. Furthermore, some of the dendrimer chemists offered to supply me with their synthesised dendrimers for some comparative testing with the commercially available ones I use.

Overall, I think it was a very successful conference with interesting and inspiring talks and great opportunities to connect within the dendrimer research community. I am very grateful for the support of my supervisors Dr Francesca Greco and Dr Rebecca Green, as well as the financial support of the Macro Group and Reading University Graduate School Travel award, which enabled me to attend this meeting and present my research. I hope to be able to attend the next Biodendrimer conference and meet the researchers again.