Issue 3
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School Newsletter

Issue 3 | October 2017


Welcome to the latest issue of our School of Chemistry newsletter. The publication focuses on school news, events, highlight recent achievements from staff and students and also includes some special features.


Issue Highlights

- IRC Postgraduate Scholarships

- Nanochemist Living in Direct Provision

- George Guilbault Symposium

- UG & PG Autumn Conferrings

- Eli Lilly Postgraduate Research Symposium

- Annual Chemistry Ball

- Where Are They Now?

- Chemistry's All Ireland Camogie Winners


Academic Year 2017/18

A warm welcome back to all undergraduate and postgraduate students, for the 2017/18 academic year. A special welcome to all new undergraduate and postgraduate students. The number of students entering CK402 and CK406 are 204 and 32 respectively, while 15 new Ph.D. students began their research in the School of Chemistry this month.

New Staff

Dr Lorraine Bateman has a new role in the School of Chemistry, as a Lecturer in Pharmaceutical Chemistry (0.5 FTE).

The lectureship is a joint position between the Schools of Pharmacy and Chemistry, and Lorraine will also continue in her role as NMR spectroscopist.

Annual School of Chemistry Coffee Morning

The School of Chemistry coffee morning, in aid of Marymount Hospice, takes place on Thursday December 7th in the Aula Maxima. The annual event has raised thousands of euro for charity since it began.

Donations for the Coffee Morning are most welcome, in particular cakes (home baked or otherwise) and biscuits.   We would appreciate it if you could bring your donations to the Aula Maxima by 9.45am on the morning of the event if possible.

School of Chemistry App

Our mobile app was recently been updated and modified for the 2017/18 academic year. The app, which has been downloaded over 1,000 times, is available at no cost from the Android Google Play store and iOS App store.

The app contains all student timetables, a full campus map with building codes, staff profiles and easy access to Blackboard and Student Umail.

Research News

A Positive Reaction to a Difficult Situation for Nanochemist Living in Direct Provision in Clonakilty

Nanochemist Karzan Zangana commutes from a Clonakilty direct provision centre to UCC to help research. And he does it for free. Karzan Zangana made an interesting diary entry lately. He keeps a journal, which was in a bag he accidentally left on the Cork to Skibbereen bus, having just returned from Dublin with his wife and children at an appointment at the International Protection Office.

The family had to register the birth of their new baby, Adam, and in the hubbub of disembarking, the backpack holding the diary was left in the luggage hold. Since arriving here late last September on a plane from Izmir, Dr Karzan Zangana, to give him his full title, has had a strange time of time of it.

Read the Full Story.....

Are Electric Vehicles the Answer to Issues Around Air Pollution?

Opinion: The main reason we should favour electric vehicles over cars that run on petrol or diesel has to do with health advantages rather than climate change or traffic jams.

Emeritus Prof John Sodeau recently wrote an article for RTÉ Brainstorm discussing this issue. RTÉ Brainstorm is where the academic and research community will contribute to public debate, reflect on what’s happening in the world around us and communicate fresh thinking on a broad range of issues.

Read the full article here....

European Meteorology Society Videos - Featuring CRAC Research

The European Meteorology Society recently commissioned the School of Chemistry's CRACLab to make a short film about its activities for showing at its recent Annual Meeting in Dublin.

Additional videos are available from the CRACLab Youtube channel.

Undergraduate Student Focus

Autumn Conferrings - Class of 2017

Last week, 67 students graduated with BSc (Hons) degrees in Chemistry, Chemistry of Pharmaceutical Compounds, Chemistry with Forensic Science, Science (Chemistry) Education and Chemical Physics. A full list of all graduates is given below. Well done to all involved and best of luck to all of them in their future careers.

BSc (Hons) Chemistry (33)

Emma Alcock, John Barry, Luke Broderick, Rickard Cahalane, Cian Carroll, Eadaoin Casey, Emma Coleman, Anya Curran, Joshua Duffy, Stephen Harrison, Ciaran Haydon, Eimear Heffernan, Aobha Hickey, Conor Horgan, Xiaofang Huang, Wojtek Kaluza, Fionnuala Lindsay, Aurelia Luszcz, Laura Lynch, Melvin Mathew, Rebecca Maunsell, Niamh O'Donovan, Donogh O'Dowd, Jennifer O'Lehan, Una O'Mahony, James O'Shea, Niall O'Sullivan, Sam Ryan, Jane Ryder, Alison Shanahan, Paula Walsh, Leanne Woods, Christine Wyse.

BSc (Hons) Chemistry of Pharmaceutical Compounds (20)

Sarah Buckley, Maeve Burke, Conor Carthy, Martin Colivet, Louise Cooney, Alan Draddy, Sean Farmer, Hannah Hayes, Jason Keating, William McCarthy, Christian Mulcahy, Daniel Murphy, Katie O'Connor, Michelle O'Sullivan, Thomas Raju, Dilan Russell, Kevin Sheehy, Aimee Shine, Samantha Torley, Eolann Treacy.

BSc (Hons) Chemistry with Forensic Science (11)

Matthew Ahearn-Ford, Leona Cashman, Louise Coleman, Amy Dillon, Orlaith Dowd, Lauren Heanue, Rebecca McDonnell, Kate O'Sullivan, Emma O'Sullivan-Carroll, Mathilda O'Toole, Eoghan Ryan.

BSc (Hons) Science (Chemistry) Education (1)
Patrick McSweeney.

BSc (Hons) Chemical Physics (2)
Robert McCormack, Robert O'Halloran.

View Photos
Watch Video

Irish Research Council Postgraduate Scholarships

The 2018 Irish Research Council Postgraduate Scholarship Programme is now open for potential applicants. Full details can be found on the IRC website.

This programme offers scholarships for suitably qualified individuals to pursue a research M.Sc. or Ph.D. (either traditional or structured), in any discipline, at eligible higher education institutions in Ireland.

Postgraduate Student Focus

Autumn Conferrings 2017

Congratulations to a number of postgraduate students on their recent Ph.D. and M.Sc. graduation.

Dr Lorraine Crowley (Ph.D.)
Supervisor: Dr Simon Lawrence
Thesis Title: Understanding the crystal landscape of primary sulfinamides and predicting cocrystallization.

Shona Doyle (M.Sc.)
Supervisor: Prof Martyn Pemble
Thesis Title: Development of an atmoic layer deposition process for the growth of MOS2 2-D metal dichalcogenide films.

Jennifer Halpin (M.Sc.)
Supervisor: Prof Martyn Pemble
Thesis Title: Novel photoanode materials for water splitting applications.

View Photos

2017 George Guilbault Symposium

The 4th George Guilbault Symposium was hosted at Tyndall National Institute on Wednesday 11th October. This event brought together industry, academia and students. The Symposium provides an opportunity for the taught M.Sc. students in Analytical Chemistry to present their research projects over the past 6 months. It also gives the incoming class (2017/18) the opportunity to meet and interact with the class of 2016/17 and to network with industry. In total there were around 100 attendees with 63 M.Sc. students, 19 company representatives from 10 industries and approximately 20 School of Chemistry and Tyndall staff and Ph.D. students in attendance. There were four industry keynote (TelLabs, ThermoFisher Scientific, Hovione and Regeneron) and 12 M.Sc. students shortlisted presentations on the day. All the 2016/17 class (43 in total) presented posters and the Symposium culminated in an industry speed dating event. TelLabs, Eli Lilly and J&J sponsored the awards this year and the winners were:

George Guilbault Award – Noelle Leahy.
Presentation entitled Determination of Silicone Content on Silicone Coated Silk Suture Material.

Best Poster Award – Cian Clarke.
Poster entitled Development of Novel Liquid Metal Electronic Interconnects.

Special Peer Award – Adam Dalton.
Poster entitled A HPLC-UV method for quantification of water soluble vitamins encapsulated in sodium alginate beads to be used in a novel delivery system.

Runner up Poster Award – John Butler.
Poster entitled Development of a RP-HPLC Method for the Separation of Analgesic Compounds in River Water.

Runner up Poster Award – Janine Boertjes.
Poster entitled Sample preparation methods for analysis of emerging contaminants in surface water by ion chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry.

View Photos

All-Ireland Senior Camogie Winners

Congratulations to Ph.D. students Katrina and Pamela Mackey on their All-Ireland camogie success with Cork in September. The narrow one point win (0-10 to 0-09) over Kilkenny, saw Pamela and Katrina win their 8th All-Ireland senior camogie winners medal. The twins have also been shortlisted for the 2017 Camogie All-Star awards, which will be announced on November 4th.

Katrina and Pamela completed their undergraduate students in Chemistry with Forensics at the School of Chemistry in 2014 and are currently carrying out their Ph.D. research with Dr. Ger McGlacken. Katrina's research is funded by SFI and SSPC, while Pamela's work is funded by the Irish Research Council.

Read more from Katrina and Pamela towards the end of the newsletter, where they give us an insight into their sporting and academic lives.

Annual Eli Lilly Postgraduate Research Symposium

The 15th Eli Lilly Postgraduate Symposium in Organic & Pharmaceutical Chemistry took place on September 29th. The symposium involves oral presentations from Year 3 postgraduate students in Organic & Pharmaceutical Chemistry.

Congratulations to David Jones, this years winner. In second place was Rose O'Mahony and Olga Dennehy in third place.

Tyndall Scientific Image Competition Winner

Fionán Davitt is one of the August 2017 winners of the Tyndall Image Competition. The monthly competition awards a prize to research students based on images submitted from their research work.

Fionán's winning images are of SnSe2 nano-waves and SnSe2 Nano-flowers (pictured right). Both images are false colour scanning electron microscope (SEM) images of SnSe2 flakes, taken using the FEI Helios in Tyndall. These flakes were created using chemical vapour deposition (CVD), using a single source diselenoether precursor. By changing the temperature in the CVD reactor, different SnSe2 structures can be obtained.

Fionán carries out his postgraduate research with the Materials Chemistry and Analysis Group, under the supervision of Prof. Justin Holmes.

Paul Buckley wins EAC 2017 Poster Prize

Congratulations to Ph.D. student Paul Buckley, who was awarded a best poster prize at the European Aerosol Conference held in Zurich, 27th August – 1st September 2017. This event is Europe’s largest aerosol conference, attended by over 800 scientists from around the world. Paul presented the latest results from his research on the sources and properties of atmospheric black carbon particles, which have a large impact on air quality and climate. The research is funded by a Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship (Irish Research Council/EPA). Paul is based in the Centre for Research into Atmospheric Chemistry and works in both the School of Chemistry and the Environmental Research Institute.

BARDS Research Group Wins Top Award

Congratulations to the BARDS Research Group and to Anas Alfarsi on winning best poster at The Science of Medicine, 8th APS International PharmSci Conference, held at the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfiel, UK.

Under the supervision of Dr. Dara Fitzpatrick, Anas' winning poster presentation was entitled BARDS: A Rapid Dual Test for Enteric Coating Integrity and Drug Assay in the Production and Quality Assurance of Controlled Release Microsphere Formulations.

On Our Travels

European Aerosol Conference - Zurich

Words by: Paul Buckley
Supervisor: Prof John Wenger

In August 2017, three members of the Centre for Research into Atmospheric Chemistry (CRAC) Lab; Prof John Wenger, Dr Stig Hellebust, and myself, attended the European Aerosol Conference (EAC) which was held in the University of Zurich, Switzerland.

Almost 900 delegates from research institutes in Europe, Asia and America attended the conference and participated in 41 oral sessions, with over 250 talks, and more than 550 posters presented over the course of the conference. This was a great opportunity for us to meet fellow researchers to discuss current work and possible future collaborations, and also to scope out new instruments that were on display during the conference. Our research focuses on domestic solid fuel burning, with my own area of interest being black carbon, the second most important climate forcer, behind carbon dioxide, and an area of growing concern.

The EAC is the largest annual conference in Europe where the latest developments in aerosol science are discussed and new innovations are presented to the scientific community. This was my first experience of an international conference and it was a fantastic opportunity to connect with other researchers from different countries that are working in the same field. Both Prof Wenger and I were afforded the opportunity to present our research on posters, and there was great interest in our results due to the unique nature of Ireland’s emissions.

The conference was held on grounds of the University of Zurich, on a hill over-looking the city. We had some opportunities to explore the city, and while it was quite expensive, there was a vibrant night life, some fantastic local cuisine and streets full of history. A particular highlight was the conference dinner which was held at a historical beer hall. At the dinner we were treated to a performance of local music and more local cuisine.

The week ended on a high as I was awarded the prize for the best poster in “Environmental Sciences: Processes and Impacts” by the Royal Society of Chemistry. Overall, I would highly recommend a visit to Zurich, the scenery is beautiful and there is a lot of history around every street corner!

Paul Buckley has just started the 3rd year of his PhD on the Nature and Origin of Black Carbon in Ireland”, which is supported by an EPA/IRC Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship. More details of his research can be found Here.

Chemical Society Update

2017/18 Chemical Society Year Events

The Chemical Society (ChemSoc) committee have been busy putting together their plans for the 2017/18 academic year. Full details are given below. Keep an eye on their Facebook and Twitter pages for more information.

5th October 2017 - Advisory session with postgraduate students to discuss postgraduate experiences and research possibilities.

11th October 2017 - Game of Thrones Quiz.

19th October 2017 - Chemistry Ball

23rd October 2017 - Wonder Woman movie screening in collaboration with BioSoc – Fundraising Event for Éabha Wall – Monday 23rd 7pm, Boole 3. €2 entry.

26th October 2017 - Chemistry specific careers talk with UCC careers service. Time 1pm, Venue WW3.

6th – 9th November - CSI: UCC Week, featuring State Anthropologist Laureen Buckley, an interactive game of cluedo and fingerprinting sessions.

15th November - Chemistry of Depression, in collaboration with SAMH for mental health.

Date TBC - Chemsoc Cares campaign. In the run up to exams, ChemSoc are organising some mindfulness sessions and care packages for chemistry students.

February 2018 - ChemSoc Cup (Football Tournament)

Date TBC - Industry Visit (taking undergraduate students on a trip to a large scale industrial laboratory.

To join the ChemSoc mailing list, and to receive their weekly updates, send an email to

2017/18 Annual Chemistry Ball

The annual Chemistry Ball took place on Thursday October 19th, at Rochestown Park Hotel. With almost 150 guest in attendance, a great night was had by all.

View Photos

Outreach Focus

Open Day 2017

The University Open Day took place on Saturday October 16th, welcoming over 5,500 prospective students, as well as teachers and parents, with a wide range of tours, workshops, talks and information stands. Located in the Western Gateway Building, the School of Chemistry stand was particularly busy throughout the day.

A special word of thanks to students who volunteered on the day: William Daly, Leonie O'Sullivan, Billy McCarthy, Aoife Foley, Katelyn O'Grady, Thomas Curran, Ciara Gildea and Richard Hogan.

View Photos

Where Are They Now?

In this section, we will profile and focus on alumni students. Each graduate will go through their student memories, experiences and update us on what they have done since leaving UCC.

Dr Bríd Cronin

Photo: Dr John O'Callaghan

B.Sc. Chemistry (2003).

What year did you arrive in UCC?

What course did you study?
I started in CK402 - Biological and Chemical Sciences.

What was your favourite Chemistry topic?
Physical Chemistry.

What was your best ‘Chemistry’ moment and why?
I really can’t choose one, once I was able to focus on Chemistry from the second year and learn less about plants and dissecting fish, I think I loved it all from long synthesis labs to long stretches of lectures. I have very good memories of struggling to stay awake taking organometallic notes, learning how to programme in the now ancient-seeming computer labs, and learning how to draw complex Boron clusters in our class of three in Prof Spalding’s office. We were so fortunate to have been taught by Prof Declan Burke, who took such joy in explaining the inefficiencies of the combustion engine and I was lucky enough to do one of my final year projects with him. I could go on, I spent so much time in the Science Building over my four years, including summers working in the Physics Department, that it feels like home.

Who was your favourite chemistry staff member?
Again, I can’t choose, I have vivid memories of them all and their lectures and they were always very generous with their time, both while I was an undergraduate and when I’ve popped back to visit since.

When did you leave UCC? What did you do straight after graduating?
In 2003 after graduation I moved to Bristol to do a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry. I moved to Oxford for a postdoctoral position in early 2007 and I stayed on in the Chemistry Department there as a Research Fellow until the end of 2012. I also taught undergraduate Physical Chemistry from 2009-2014.

What are you doing now?
I work in the Medical Sciences Division at Oxford in an Assistant Registrar role overseeing strategic projects including large capital projects to build new state-of-the-art science facilities. My picture shows me on site in my Hi-Vis jacket and hard hat, with baby bump!

Have you any advice for current students?
Enjoy it and choose the subjects you enjoy the most! Also, make the most of the other activities you can take part in, while you’re at UCC.

Special Feature

Chemistry's All-Ireland Camogie Winners

Just over a month ago, Cork regained the All-Ireland Senior Camogie title. Two main stays of that team are twins Katrina and Pamela Mackey. On September 10th, the girls claimed another pair of All-Ireland Senior Camogie winners medals, bringing their total of medals to eight. Here the girls give us an insight into their daily lives as Ph.D. students in the School of Chemistry, playing for Douglas/UCC/Cork, and their love for the 'small ball'.

How did you both get interested in camogie, and at what age did you start playing?
Katrina & Pamela: "We started playing camogie when we were 6. Mum brought myself and Pamela down to the street leagues in Douglas, so it started from there - playing with boys up to under 10 and then we joined the girls team."

Briefly explain your research work, in the School of Chemistry at UCC?
Katrina: "My work has mainly focused on using a more 'green' approach towards the synthesis of privileged heterocycles (pyrones, coumarins and quinolones) compared to traditional cross coupling methods which generate a lot more waste."
Pamela: "My work focuses particularly on the alkylation of simple ketones like 3-pentanone. Another area I’m working on is the asymmetric synthesis of anti-1,3-amino alcohols via a tandem aldol-Tishchenko methodology. I’m currently trying to apply this methodology towards the synthesis of a natural product."

How do you balance your postgraduate research with your sporting commitments?
Katrina: "It can be difficult sometimes but I find if I'm organised, then that is a big help. Obviously, you have to be willing to make sacrifices, which can be difficult, but you just have to look to the end goal."
Pamela: "It's definitely a massive commitment, particularly if you want success in both areas. From January to September, in particular, it can be challenging, but if you get the balance right it can be really beneficial and rewarding. I was injured earlier this year and the research was a great way to take my mind off that.

What teams are you involved in, at the moment?
Katrina & Pamela: "Our club is Douglas, they are a senior camogie club. We have played the last 7 years with UCC, at intervarsity level. Finally, we also play with the Cork senior camogie team, winning three of the last four All-Ireland titles."

In peak season, describe a typical week for you, as a club and inter country camogie player?
Katrina & Pamela: "Monday - a gym session. Tuesday - team training. Wednesday - a second gym session in the early part of the season, and later in the season it would a ball alley session or some sort of recovery session such as work in the hydro pool or some aqua running. Thursday - a team session with the county team. Friday - video analysis of our performances or opposition analysis. Saturday - 8am training. Sunday - 9am ball alley session followed by a recovery session in the sea in Garretstown!"

What is your early sporting memory?
Katrina & Pamela: "The 1999 Munster hurling final (Cork beating Clare 1-15 to 0-14) and the 1999 All-Ireland hurling final (Cork beating Kilkenny 0-13 to 0-12)."

Can you remember the first time you represented Cork in camogie?
Katrina & Pamela: "2009, we were part of the Cork U-14 team. We won the All-Ireland that year."

What is your career highlight to date?
Katrina & Pamela: "It would have be winning the All-Ireland in 2014 with Cork. After losing in 2012, and not getting back to Croke Park until 2014, that was something special. That year we had a fantastic team but we were still underdogs. We beat Wexford in the semi-final after a replay, and then went on to beat Kilkenny in the final. The victory this year is also up with that final. To win by a point was thrilling but the most satisfying thing about this year was that the work we put in way back in December, was probably the difference between winning and losing that match."

Who is the most challenging opponent you have come up against?
Katrina: "Claire O'Connor from Wexford, always played from the front!"
Pamela: "I’ve come up against a number of great players and some of the best have come from within our own team. Two who do stand out are Ursula Jacob and Katrina Parrock from Wexford. Anytime you’re marking one of those forwards, you’re guaranteed a tough day."

Outside of camogie, what other sports interest you?
Katrina: "I would watch most sports, with the exception of golf and horse racing. I like watching the All-Blacks play in rugby and love watching athletics in the Olympics."
Pamela: "I enjoy all sports except for golf! I did play soccer for a number of years, which I really enjoyed but I just didn’t have the time to play the two. I’ve also played Gaelic football but again it clashed too much with the camogie! Other sports I enjoy are athletics and I’m hoping to do some cycling this winter."

If you could name one male and female sporting hero of yours, who would they be?
Katrina: "Male - Jim Stynes (Gaelic Football & Aussie Rules). Female - Sonia O'Sullivan (Athletics)."
Pamela: "Male - Michael Phelps (Swimming). Female - Sonia O'Sullivan (Athletics)."

Would you have any advice for young sports women? 
Katrina: "Always bring a good attitude to training, no matter how you feel. Do that extra bit of work to be the best you can be and to succeed. Always back yourself, even if you are going through a rough period, because sometimes no one else will."
Pamela: "Sport has taught me so much in life, but one of the most valuable lessons I have learned from sport is the importance of hard work. I think that sport has instilled in me a great sense of discipline. A good work ethic is the key to succeeding in sport and in your career. Sacrifices have to be made, but everything is so much more rewarding when you have worked hard for it."

Did You Know?

Interesting Chemistry Facts

- Gallium is a metal, which melts on the palm of your hand (melting point 29.76 degrees celsius).

- Goldfish eyes perceive for the visible spectrum, infrared and ultraviolet light.

- Every year on October 23 from 6:02 am to 6:02 pm, chemistry students, and chemists celebrate Mole Day in honour of Avogadro's number.

- Apples and pears release ethylene gas as they mature, which in turn can promote ripening in several other types of fruit. So make sure you don't store all your fruit in the same basket.

- A rubber tyre is actually one single giant polymerised molecule.

- Twenty percent of Earth's oxygen is produced by the Amazon forest.

Countdown to Key Dates

2017/18 Winter Examinations


Next Issue

We hope you enjoyed this issue of our newsletter. The next issue will be released in early 2018. To submit news, features and feedback, please contact us.

Best Regards
Prof Justin Holmes | Head of School
021 4902379

Editor | Dr Trevor Carey
© School of Chemistry | UCC

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