Issue 5
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School Newsletter

Issue 5 | December 2018


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


Issue Highlights

- Athena Swan Bronze Award

- 2018 UCC Staff Awards

- SEFS Staff & Demonstrator of the Year Awards

- Postgraduate Conferrings

- Class of 2018

- World Championship Taekwondo Success

- Studying a Semester in Switzerland

- Cork Discovers Chemistry

- Where Are They Now?


School of Chemistry Athena SWAN Bronze Award

Photo (L-R): Helen O'Donoghue (SEFS Human Resources), Dr. Trevor Carey (Senior Technical Officer, School of Chemistry), Mary Mitchell O'Connor TD (Minister of State for Higher Education), Prof. John Wenger (Chair of School of Chemistry/SEFS Athena SWAN), Ms. Claire Tobin (School Manager, School of Chemistry), Ms. Ann King (UCC Athena SWAN Project Officer), Prof. John O'Halloran (Deputy President and Registrar at UCC).

The School of Chemistry were presented with an Athena SWAN Bronze Award at the annual Athena SWAN Ireland awards ceremony, held in Dublin on November 14th. Chemistry, along with the Schools of Pharmacy and BEES, are the first recipients of the Departmental award in UCC, following the University’s institutional award in 2016.

The Athena SWAN Charter is the internationally recognised ‘quality mark’ for gender equality. Administered by the U.K.’s Equality Challenge Unit, accreditation indicates that an institution has demonstrated commitment to advancing gender equality across all academic disciplines. Accreditation is made at bronze, silver and gold levels.

Further information on Athena SWAN in UCC

Further information on Athena SWAN in the School of Chemistry

UCC Staff Awards 2018

Photo (L-R): Prof. John Wenger (Deputy Head of the School of Chemistry), Prof. Colm O'Dwyer (School of Chemistry), Prof. Anita Maguire (Vice President For Research & Innovation in UCC), Dr. Trevor Carey (School of Chemistry) and Prof. Patrick O'Shea (President of UCC).

School of Chemistry staff members Prof. Colm O'Dwyer and Dr. Trevor Carey were recently honoured in the 2018 University Staff Recognition Awards Programme and the University Research Awards.

Open Researcher of the Year - Prof. Colm O'Dwyer

The Selection Committee determined that Professor Colm O’Dwyer should be honoured with the Open Research of the Year Award. Professor O’Dwyer is an advocate for open access in all forms, including openness in peer review not just as an author, but as editor, reviewer and policy maker. His experience as an associate editor in some of the primary open access publishing houses and open access journals and contributing role in the largest Free Open Access movement by any scientific society so far, is testament to this experience and engagement with the Open Access movement. Professor O’Dwyer ensures that all his research and that of his group are accessible to anyone, using open access through funding author processing charges to enable gold open access, open access repositories such as the Cork Open Access Repository, and most importantly, by choosing to publish open access even at the expense of the standard impact factor-oriented publishing goal model in some cases. As an open access leader in one of the world’s largest scientific societies, Colm has championed the engagement of many researchers from a wide range of scientific disciplines to embrace and use open access publishing.

Outstanding Colleague Award - Dr. Trevor Carey

The Selection Committee determined that Dr Trevor Carey should be honoured with an Outstanding Colleague Award. Trevor is a senior technical officer in the area of Physical Chemistry with the responsibility of running all aspects of undergraduate physical chemistry laboratory classes. He has demonstrated outstanding competence and technical support and excels also in his teaching and outreach activities. He has led the way implementing modern techniques and methods to improve in-house administration processes that have resulted in significant and lasting contributions for colleagues and which have greatly improved the student experience. He routinely carries out work that is considered above and beyond expectations and shows tremendous collegiality. His contribution in coordinating the Spectroscopy in a Suitcase initiative saw him recognised by a prestigious international award. Trevor is an exceptional, well-respected colleague who cares passionately about what he does and his commitment to colleagues and to students alike is exemplary.

Institute of Chemistry of Ireland’s 2018 Eva Philbin Award

Congratulations to Prof. Anita Maguire on winning the Institute of Chemistry of Ireland’s 2018 Eva Philbin Award.

This award was inaugurated by the Institute of Chemistry of Ireland in 2005 and since 2007, is named in memory of the late Eva Philbin, who was Professor of Organic Chemistry at UCD. The award, consisting of a commemorative plaque, is made to a practicing chemist, who has an international reputation for having made a significant contribution to the advancement of chemistry and who is also an excellent science communicator.

A graduate from Chemistry in UCC (B.Sc. 1985, Ph.D. 1989), Anita commenced her academic career in UCC in 1991, following postdoctoral research in Belgium and UK. Her research team is internationally recognized for its work in synthetic organic chemistry and medicinal chemistry. Extensive collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry nationally and internationally is a key feature of the research team. She is a Co-PI in the Synthesis and Solid State Pharmaceutical Centre. Since 2011, she is the Vice President for Research & Innovation in UCC.

Eighth Annual Student Nominated Staff and Demonstrator Teaching Awards

Photo: SEFS Staff and Demonstrator Teaching Award Winners.

The Eighth Annual Student Nominated Staff and Demonstrator Teaching Awards across SEFS Programmes have been selected for 2017-2018.

Award recipients were blindly selected by the College of SEFS Teaching Learning & Student Experience (TLSE) Committee following a two-stage process organised through the College of SEFS Office, whereby students across the College were initially invited to nominate teaching staff and demonstrators they deemed worthy of the award from which an initial shortlist was drawn, followed by a second stage whereby (other) students taking modules of the teaching staff and demonstrators on the shortlist were randomly selected and invited to provide additional feedback. Congratulations to the following School of Chemistry award winners.

Dr. Stuart Collins - Staff Teaching Award (Joint Runner-Up)
Mr. William Daly - Demonstrator Teaching Award (Overall Winner)

Fáilte Ireland National Conference Ambassador Awards

Photo: Dr. Eric Moore and UCC colleagues at the Fáilte Ireland National Conference Awards for 2018.

Congratulations to Dr. Eric Moore and Prof. Jeremy Glennon who were recently honoured with an award at the first ever Fáilte Ireland National Conference Awards, hosted at Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin.

Dr. Eric Moore was awarded for hosting a FP7 GIFT workshop (2015) and a Smart Systems Integration Conference (2017), while Prof. Jeremy Glennon was awarded for hosting the 31st International Symposium on Chromatography (2016).

School of Chemistry Christmas Coffee Morning

The School of Chemistry 19th annual coffee morning, in aid of Marymount Hospice, takes place on Thursday December 6th 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.

Green Ribbon Campaign

The School of Chemistry hosted a coffee morning on Friday June 1st, as part of the nationwide See Change “Green Ribbon” campaign. The Green Ribbon is worn to encourage people to talk openly about mental health. This campaign particularly aims to reduce the stigma often associated with mental health issues in Ireland. On June 1st, we invited everyone in the School of Chemistry to promote mental health awareness in our workplace by wearing something green.

Research News

Celebrating Excellence in Research: 100 Women of Chemistry

Congratulations to Prof. Anita Maguire, who recently had her work featured in the 'Celebrating Excellence of Research: 100 Women of Chemistry'.

Celebrating Excellence in Research: 100 Women of Chemistry is a collection of high quality research papers from across the RSC Publishing portfolio. As the name of the collection suggests, the excellence comes first – all papers included have previously been judged to be of outstanding quality by the reviewers, editors, or readers.

Click Here for more details.

2018 Bridge Network Invention of the Year Awards

Photo (L-R): Prof. Colm O'Dwyer (School of Chemistry), Sharon Sheahan (Commercialisation Manager at UCC/Teagasc), Derry Fitzgerald, (AudioSourceRE) and David Corkery (Technology Transfer Operations Manager at UCC).

Prof. Colm O'Dwyer was amongst those shortlisted for the 2018 Bridge Network Invention of the Year. Bridge Network is a technology transfer consortium comprising of tech transfer offices from UCC, CIT, Teagasc, and IT Tralee. The Invention of the Year is sponsored by Purdy Lucey Intellectual Property. This is the sixth year UCC has hosted the inventor awards, and their second year as a Bridge Network event.

On the Invention of the Year shortlist was LiONSKIN, a 3D printed battery created by Colm O’Dwyer, professor in chemical energy in UCC and academic member at Tyndall National Institute. The battery can be made into any shape, it can be 3D printed. The battery could revolutionise wearable technology, medical devices, IoT, wireless technology, and other areas that use up a lot of small-sized batteries.

“The importance of this battery is that you can 3D print it, so you never have to get another replacement battery for things like medical devices or a range of other technologies,” said Prof. O’Dwyer. “It can be attached to the outside of anything."

5th Annual George Guilbault Symposium

Photo (L-R) (2018 George Guilbault Award): Dr. Eric Moore. Colm Hennessy and Brenda Canty.

The 5th George Guilbault Symposium was hosted at Tyndall National Institute on Wednesday 3rd October. This event brought together industry, academia and Analytical Chemistry postgraduate students. The Symposium provides an opportunity for the taught M.Sc. students to present their research projects. It also gives the incoming class (2018/19) the opportunity to meet and interact with the class of 2017/18 and to network with industry. In total there were approximately 90 attendees with 53 M.Sc. students, 23 company representatives from 10 industries and 15 School of Chemistry and Tyndall staff and Ph.D. students in attendance. There were three industry keynote speakers (Eli Lilly, Agilent and Janssen) and 9 M.Sc. students shortlisted presentations on the day. This year a special Alumni session allowed the students to meet former students who have gone on to different careers in either industry or academia.  All of the 2017/18 class presented posters and the Symposium culminated in an industry speed dating event. Special thanks to our sponsors, Royal Society of Chemistry, Janssen, Eli Lilly and TEL Labs and to Tyndall for hosting the event.

Photo (L-R) (Eli Lilly Poster Award): Kevin O’Sullivan, Noel Browne and Dr. Eric Moore.

2018 George Guilbault Award winner (sponsored by Janssen)
Student: Colm Hennessy

Presentation Title: Optimisation of SEC Analysis of Therapeutic Protein Drug Substance” Colm did his research project at Eli Lilly in Kinsale.

Best Poster Award (sponsored by Eli Lilly)
Student: Noel Browne

Presentation Title: Determination of anti-inflammatory drugs in surface water by reverse phase liquid chromatography with UV detection”. Noel did his research project in the School of Chemistry.

Special Peer Award (sponsored by TEL labs)
Student: Rickard Cahalane

Presentation Title: A Robustness study of CHOP ELISA” Rickard did his research project at BioMarin in Ringaskiddy.

Runner-up Poster Awards (sponsored by Eli Lilly)
Student: Emma O’Sullivan

Presentation Title: Capillary electrophoresis for rapid separation and detection of analgesic formulation and drug abuse” Emma did her research project in the School of Chemistry.
Student: Mohammed Abujennah
Presentation Title: Analytical Method validation: A cleanliness test for automotive components” Mohammed did his research project at Glantreo in Cork.

Irish Researchers Make Key Breakthrough on ‘Brain-Like’ Computers

A new generation of “neuromorphic” computers will be able to carry out ultra-fast sensory processing, image recognition, and motor control, prompting movement tasks which are natural to the human brain.

At the core of these computers are nanowire networks, made of microscopic threads of nickel or silver, that “mimic the brain” in how they send and process information. Nanowires are similar to normal electrical wires but are extremely small – typically a few hundred atoms thick, or less than one thousandth of the thickness of a human hair. They are used in “neuromorphic” computers which are predicted to be the next frontier in the evolution of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

While the remarkable properties of these “nanowires” in processing information has been known for some time, the extent to which they mimic how the human brain works has been further underlined by new research from a team of Irish and US scientists. Researchers at AMBER, the Science Foundation Ireland-funded materials science centre, have provided further evidence of the effectiveness of nanowire networks and found a key pathway that may optimise information flow in neuromorphic computers.

The difference between neuromorphic semi-conductors and standard computer semiconductors lies in the way their transistors are laid out and inter-related. They are powered by billions of transistors arranged to work in parallel across what is being called “inter-neuron connections”. These operate like synapses, the junctions between nerve cells in the central nervous system and brain.

The research was a collaboration between professors John Boland and Mauro Ferreira, AMBER researchers in Trinity College Dublin, and Prof. Justin Holmes, AMBER researcher at UCC, who are working in collaboration with researchers from Duke University in the US. Establishing the optimum pathway to operate across complex networks is a ubiquitous problem: from information networks such as the internet to physical networks of roadways to highly interconnected biological networks within the brain.

To be able to do so quickly and in an energy-efficient way is critical in developing next-generation computers. In research published on Monday the journal Nature Communications researchers describe how this may be achieved in the development of hardware using “neural network systems with brain-inspired architectures”. The human brain develops preferred communication pathways that link together different brain circuits or loops to quickly and efficiently complete specific tasks and this research shows evidence for the same behaviour in a nanowire network.

Prof. Boland explained: “To understand preferred pathways, think of walking through a university campus or business park with some grassy areas and paths connecting the different buildings. There will be foot-worn short cuts in the grass that people take to save time and energy. The combination of frequently-used paved and unpaved pathways are the most practical or preferred pathways for moving efficiently.”

The research was supported by the European Research Council. AMBER is jointly hosted in TCD by the CRANN Institute and Trinity Centre for Bioengineering, which work in conjunction with UCC and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

Ph.D. Student Wins Poster Competition

Congratulations to Ph.D. student Mehael Fennelly, who won 'Best Poster Prize' at the recent Irish Society of Clinical Microbiologists (ISCM) Conference. The conference covers topics in medical microbiology, from scientific and clinical knowledge of infection, to patient management and treatment.

Mehael's winning poster focused on his research at Cork University Hospital titled "Continous Real-Time Monitoring of Biological Airborne Particles on a Hospital Ward and the Effect of Plasma Air Disinfection".

UCC Green Campus Podcast

The first UCC Green Campus Podcast, entitled 'Working in the Atmospheric Health Service' was recently launched and featured contributions from Prof. John Wenger, and two of his Ph.D. students, Paul Buckley and Niall O'Sullivan.

Click Here to listen to the podcast.

Undergraduate Student Focus

Class of 2018

Photo (L-R): Class of 2018 graduates.

In October, 81 students graduated with B.Sc. (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 wishes to all of them in their future careers.

BSc (Hons) Chemistry (38)
Fiza Ahmed, Colm Barry, Kathryn Birkett, Emma Birney, Laura Byron, Evan Caplice, William Coakley, Fia Coughlan, Ciya Cyriac, Kevin Deasy Dunne, Luke Eaton, Stephanie Field, Aisling Foley, Anne Gayer, Patrick Harris, Daniel Heffernan, David Hickey, Seán Jarvis, Niamh Kingston, Padraig Maderson, Kathryn McCarthy, Meabh McGuinness, David McLoughlin, Sineád Murphy, Eadaoin Ní Longaigh, Eoin O'Brien, Michael O'Connell, Aaron O'Donoghue, Darran O'Driscoll, Christina O'Neill, Lavina O'Shea, Leonie O'Sullivan, Roshna Robin, Aisling Ryan, Sylwia Sroka, Cian Walsh, Aisling Willins, Yuh Wong.

BSc (Hons) Chemistry of Pharmaceutical Compounds (20)
Sinead Ahearn-Ford, Marielle Baltero-Cruz, Eoin Barrett, Caoimhe Broderick, Alexander Browne, Seán Coomey, Dean Curtin, Philip Darragh, Mary Hennessey, Claire Hobbs, Holly Lehane, Amy Lowry, Tara Lyons, Conor O'Brien, Niamh O'Connell, Joshua O'Donnell, David O'Meara, Roksana Tomkow, Aoife Walsh, Evan White.

BSc (Hons) Chemistry with Forensic Science (12)
Imelda Fitzgerald, Georgina Gazda, Ciara Gildea, Celaine Johannie, Lucy Judge, Aaron Kang, Cara Nies, James O'Callaghan, Niamh O'Mahoney, Tadhg O'Mahony, Zoe Oakey, Seán Sheehy.

BSc (Hons) Science (Chemistry) Education (4)
Laura Bosch Ramon, Ehren Dixon, Rachel Doyle, Fiona Hegarty.

BSc (Hons) Chemical Physics (7)

Louise Colfer, Rita Mullins, Ailsa Nimitz, Anna O'Regan, Andrew Ryan-Crowley, Eoin Walsh, Joseph White.

Studying a Semester Abroad (Switzerland)

Photo (L-R): B.Sc. Chemistry IV students Aislinn Ahern and Eimear Courtney.

Twelve months ago, B.Sc. Chemistry IV students Aislinn Ahern and Eimear Courtney were afforded the opportunity to study Semster 2 of their third year in Switzerland. Both girls tell us about their experience of studying abroad.

Words by Aislinn Ahern and Eimear Courtney

Earlier this year, we packed up and jetted off for Switzerland to participate in the Swiss European Mobility Programme (SEMP). This programme represented the solidifying of a link between two international universities, UCC and Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW). SEMP facilitates an exchange between partner universities opening many pathways, both professionally and personally, and promoting diversity, communication and learning.  We were based at the Institute of Chemistry and Biotechnology in Wӓdenswil, a beautiful lakeside town located just outside Zurich, with a picturesque view of the Alps in the distance.

The programme involved a 16-week advanced laboratory course and undertaking a module from the Master of Science in Life Sciences. The module we chose was Natural Substances, a joint bilingual module between four Swiss Applied Sciences Universities with lectures and workshops held in Bern.

Aislinn: "I was working in the research group of Prof. Achim Ecker. I initiated work on a potentially new class of fluorescent biomarkers for cells using a zeolite based host-guest composite. During this project I worked in both the chemistry lab as well as working with cells in the biological lab."

Eimear: "I was based in the Organic and Medicinal Chemistry lab under the supervision of Prof. Rainer Riedl. For my project, I was part of a collaborative effort between ZHAW and the Community for Open Antimicrobial Drug Discovery, based in the University of Queensland, Australia. The aim of the project was to develop new strategies to target antibiotic resistance through the synthesis and screening of novel compounds in the search for viable drug candidates."

Our supervisors and lab-peers took great care of us, especially taking pity on our lack of German-speaking skills. ZHAW is a diverse university with campuses across three cities; Zurich, Winterthur and Wadenswil. The many extracurricular activities put on by ZHAW, from German language classes to choir and art courses, helped us to settle quickly and meet new friends.

In our spare time, we took full advantage of the picturesque Swiss landscape, and amazing transport system, to explore all corners of the country from the French-speaking Geneva in the east, to the Italian speaking Lugano in the south. We lived in the Swiss-German speaking area and visited the cities of Basel, Lucerne, Bern as well as Brienz, Spiez, Interlaken, Zug, and Rheinfall. We also jumped borders to Liechtenstein, Austria and Germany. Switzerland is a vibrant country with amazing culture and food, famous for their beer, chocolate and fondue, as well as more unpronounceable treats such as spatzli (soft egg noodle) and schaumkuesse (chocolate marshmallow).

The entire experience was the perfect blend of culture, academia and social life, which helped us to develop both professionally and personally. It’s safe to say we both look forward to the day when we can return!

Postgraduate Student Focus

Summer & Autumn Conferrings 2018

Photo: Autumn Ph.D. Science graduates.

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

Dr Niamh Creedon (Ph.D.)
Supervisor: Dr. Alan O'Riordan
Thesis Title: Sensing at nanostructures for agri-food and environmental applications.

Dr Igor Kazadojev (Ph.D.)
Supervisor: Prof. Martyn Pemble
Thesis Title: Growth of V2O5 films for electrochromis and battery applications.

Dr Harry Manley (Ph.D.)
Supervisor: Prof. Martyn Pemble
Thesis Title: An evaluation of some commercially-available thin TiO2 films and TiO2 film grown by atomic layer deposition for potential photocatalytic applications.

Dr Patrick McCaw (Ph.D.)
Supervisor: Dr. Stuart Collins
Thesis Title: Exploiting the power of continuous flow chemistry in the synthesis and reactivity of diazosulfoxides.

Dr Ethal Noonan (Ph.D.)
Supervisor: Dr. Aidan Quinn
Thesis Title: Formation & optical properties of nanocrystal-molecule nanostructures.

Dr Conor O'Regan (Ph.D.)
Supervisor: Prof. Justin Holmes
Thesis Title: Study of acid hydrolysis based synthesis of microcrystalline cellulose.

Dr Han Shao (Ph.D.)
Supervisor: Dr. Colm O'Dwyer
Thesis Title: Nanostructure materials based supercapattery for next generation pacemaker.

Dr Amy Shiely (Ph.D.)
Supervisor: Prof. Anita Maguire

Thesis Title: Synthetic and stereochemical aspects of enantioselective copper catalysed C-H inserion reactions leading to cyclopentanones and sultones.

Dr. Valerie Cachaux
Supervisors: Prof. Anita Maguire and Dr. Stuart Collins
Thesis Title: Synthesis of alpha-thio-beta-chloroacrylamides including continuous processing and application to the formation of sulfur containing heterocycles.

Dr. Marie Therese Nolan
Supervisor: Dr. Ger McGlacken
Thesis Title: Direct arylaltion of 2-ptrones, 2-coumarins, 2-pyridinones and 2-quinolones.

Dr. Eoin O'Muimhneachain
Supervisor: Dr. Ger McGlacken

Thesis Title: Direct arylation/C-H activation and other cross-coupling approaches to important biological scaffolds.

Dr. Aisling Prendergast
Supervisor: Dr. Ger McGlacken
Thesis Title: The arylation of 2-pyrones and related heterocycles.   

Dr. Catherine Ryan
Supervisor: Prof. Martyn Pemble

Thesis Title: Chitosan-based polymer thin films.

Dr. Shauna Scanlon
Supervisors: Dr Eric Moore & Dr Scott Harrison & Ms Sharon Rothwell (PepsiCo)
Thesis Title: A multi-sensing system for process analytical technology application in the food and beverage industry.

Annual Eli Lilly Postgraduate Research Symposium

Photo: Prof. Anita Maguire, Organic & Pharmaceutical Chemistry Year 3 Ph.D. students and Eli Lilly representatives.

The 16th Eli Lilly Postgraduate Symposium in Organic & Pharmaceutical Chemistry took place on October 26th. The symposium involves oral presentations from Year 3 postgraduate students in Organic & Pharmaceutical Chemistry.

Congratulations to Thomas Brouder, this years winner. In second place was Mark Lynch and Aaran Flynn in third place.

All-Ireland Senior Camogie Winners

Photo (L-R): Ph.D. students Pamela Mackey and Katrina Mackey.

Congratulations to Ph.D. students Pamela and Katrina Mackey on their All-Ireland camogie success with Cork in September. The narrow one point win (0-14 to 0-13) over Kilkenny, saw Pamela and Katrina win their 10th All-Ireland senior camogie winners medal. The twins also received 2018 Camogie All-Star awards this month.

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.

Taekwondo World Championships 2018

Photo (L-R): Anya Curran and Team Ireland colleagues.

Congratulations to School of Chemistry Ph.D. student Anya Curran, who received a bronze medal when representing the Republic of Ireland at the ITF Taekwondo World Championships, which were held in Buenos Aires (Argentina) in July. Competing in the individual womens lightweight (55kg) sparring, Anya defeated competitors from Canada and Argentina on her way to winning the bronze medal.

Anya is a former 3 time martial arts world champion at 50 kg weight class. She currently conducts her IRC-Enterprise funded postgraduate research in the Tyndall National institute under the supervision of Prof. Paul Hurley.

On Our Travels

ECS International Conference - Cancun, Mexico.

Photo: Moon Palace Resort, Cancun, Mexico.

Words by: Emma Coleman (Ph.D student)

Anya Curran and I were given the amazing opportunity to travel to Cancun, Mexico to participate in the Electrochemical Society (ECS) International Conference. The conference ran from September 30th to October 4th at the Moon Palace Resort and we were joined by our supervisors Prof. Paul Hurley and Dr. Farzan Gity. The conference involved speakers from around the world who came from a huge variety of fields within electrochemistry and solid state science.

Both Anya and I were giving oral presentations. Anya spoke about her work in polycrystalline III-V thin films. I presented my research on 2D transition metal dichalcogenides as next generation semiconductor materials with a focus on MoS2 grown by chemical vapour deposition. It was fantastic to get this experience in the first year of our Ph.D. Of course, we had a lot of help from members of both our research groups, which we were very thankful for!

Not only did we experience our first conference, we also went on some amazing tours through the Mexican jungle to visit Mayan temples. We visited the stunning Kukulkan pyramid in Chichen Itza. This ancient city was home to many different sites including an arena for the very important and religious ball game Pok-A-Tok. Here, warriors would play against each other and when the game was won they would offer one of the players as a human sacrifice to the gods! Other temples that we visited included Tulum, the stunning Mayan city right on the coast and Coba, one of the largest ancient cities. Coba was memorable, as we got to cycle through the ruins and then climb to the top of one of the pyramids looking out at the vast Mexican jungle.

Not only did we see the ancient ruins, we got to experience Mayan culture first hand by visiting some of the Mayan communities that still live in Mexico. They kindly treated us to some of their local cuisine, which was absolutely delicious. They also gave us a taste of their local tequila…only a tiny bit, we promise!! We also visited the amazing sinkhole and swam in one of them - which was 81 steps underground…it was still much warmer than Irish water though!

All in all, our trip was fantastic. We attended our first conference and spoke in front of a large crowd. The people were great and we got to learn about what other groups around the world are working on, some of whom are researching in the same field as us. Not only that, we learned so much about Mexico’s history. It really was a trip of a lifetime.

Chemical Society Update

2018/19 Committee

Photo: 2018/19 Chemical Society committee.

At the 2018/19 Chemical Society EGM held in October, the following committee was assembled to run a wide range of events across the current academic year.

Chairperson: Thomas Curran
Vice Chairperson/Secretary: Sinéad O'Mahony
Finance Officer: Rachel O'Riordan
PRO: Rachel O'Sullivan
Events Officer: Edel O'Donovan
Webmaster: Shane O'Sullivan
Industry & Education Officer: Dara Musgrave
OCMs: Sarah Hughes and Caroline Lynch
1st Year Reps: Neil Curtis and Andy Ó Muimhneacháin
2nd Year Rep: Emily Collins
3rd Year Rep: Catríona Keehan
4th Year Rep: David Ryan
Postgraduate Rep: Lavina O'Shea

You can keep up to date with all the goings on in the UCC Chemical Society on their Facebook page.

Outreach Focus

Disability Support Service Chemistry Workshop

During the summer, our Forensic Chemistry team hosted secondary school students with a Deaf/Hard of Hearing disability as part of the Disability Support Service Summer Workshop for secondary school students with disabilities.

2018/19 Spectroscopy in a Suitcase

Photo: Leaving Certificate students in Coláiste na Sceilge (Cahersiveen, Co. Kerry).

Now in it's fifth year, secondary schools can now book a Spectroscopy in a Suitcase visit from the School of Chemistry. Since 2014, the SIAS team in the School of Chemistry have visited 200 schools, and reached almost 4,500 leaving certificate students in the Munster region.

Schools and Teachers can Book Here on The Royal Society of Chemistry website. The SIAS outreach avtivity is supported by The Royal Society of Chemistry and Science Foundation Ireland.

Science Week 2018

Photo: St. Fin Barre's National School 5th class students Blaise Furey and Genna Hughes.

During Science Week, students from local primary schools took on the role of forensic scientists in the School of Chemistry by completing our 'Solve the Crime' activity. The activity formed part of a week long series of events organised by the College of SEFS.

Cork Discovers 2018

Photo: Dr. Dave Otway (School of Chemistry) and a liquid nitrogen demonstration as part of a number of Cork Discovers events.

In the School of Chemistry, we opened our laboratory doors on Cork Discovers night to young kids who got the opportunity to take part in a 'Solve the Crime' forensic chemistry activity, as well as witnessing an enjoyable liquid nitrogen demonstration from Dr. Dave Otway.

On Friday September 28th, research was brought to life by Cork Discovers - a European research night initiative which was set up to celebrate researchers and the valuable contribution they give to society. This year was the first year that Cork joined in on the European wide initiative. The evening consisted of almost 40 events taking place across the city, and almost 2,000 visitors.

Photo (L-R): Ph.D. students Eimear Heffernan, Paul Buckley and Niall O'Sullivan.

As part of the Cork Discovers evening, members of the Centre for Research into Atmospheric Chemistry laboratory, based in the Environmental Research Institute, participated in the open night and Careers Cafe which were held at the Western Gateway Building. Eimear Heffernan, Niall O'Sullivan, Elena Gomez Alverez and Paul Buckley ran experiments to monitor the air pollution inside the building, as well as showcasing the appearance of emissions resulting from the burning of various solid fuels. The event provided children and parents from the local area with the opportunity to speak with the researchers and discuss air pollution issues in Cork city and county.

WATCH | Cork Discovers Highlights Video

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.

In this issue, we spoke to Dr. John O'Donoghue. John was recently named 2018 SFI STEMM Communicator of the Year and is currently working as Education Coordinator for the Royal Society of Chemistry in Ireland.

Dr. John O'Donoghue

Photo: Dr. John O'Donoghue (centre), SFI STEMM Communiator of the Year for 2018.

B.Sc. Chemistry (2008) and Ph.D. Chemistry (2013)

What year did you arrive in UCC?
Originally from Listowel in Co. Kerry, I arrived to UCC in 2004.

What course did you study?
I studied Chemical, Mathematical and Physical Sciences (now CK406).

What was your favourite Chemistry topic?
My favourite topic was in the area of Inorganic Chemistry, specifically metal complexation.

What was your best ‘Chemistry’ moment and why?
My best chemistry moment was the first time I managed to get platinum cyclometallation to occur with my ligands without using an external base. Up to that point our research group had been using various external reagents to induce cyclometallation in platinum complexes. The best non-research chemistry moment for me was organising the 25th John Tobin Quiz in the Devere Hall, which I’m sure still holds the record as been the largest attendance at a John Tobin quiz.

Who was your favourite chemistry staff member?
My Ph.D. supervisor, Dr. Orla Ni Dhubhghaill.

When did you leave UCC and what did you do straight after graduating?
I left UCC in 2013 and went to Queen’s University in Belfast to take up a postdoctorate position with Prof. Steven Bell.

What are you doing now?
Nowadays, I'm the RSC Chemistry Education Coordinator at Trinity College Dublin. I organise workshops for teachers and link third level institutions with schools. In addition, I coordinate the Spectroscopy in a Suitcase programme for the Republic of Ireland.

Have you any advice for current students?
Chemistry is a very broad area, take your time choosing an area that you like but don’t close any area off. My Ph.D. was in the area of inorganic metal complexes but my postdoctorate research was a mixture of inorganic surface chemistry and chemical engineering, so always leave yourself open to new ideas and areas.

Looking Ahead to 2019

2019 - International Year of the Periodic Table

Looking ahead to 2019, celebrations throughout next year will aim to boost public awareness of chemistry around the world. The United Nations has designated 2019 as the international year of the periodic table of chemical elements. The year will coincide with the 150th anniversary of the table’s creation by Dmitry Mendeleev. It will also mark several important milestones in the history of chemistry, including the discovery of phosphorus 350 years ago and Antoine Lavoisier’s categorisation of 33 elements in 1789.

WATCH | Periodic Table of Elements - Chemistry: A Volatile History - BBC Four

Countdown to Key Dates

2018/19 Semester 2 Start


Next Issue

We hope you enjoyed the latest issue of our newsletter. The next issue will be released in Spring 2019. To submit news, features and feedback, please contact us.

Merry Christmas to all students and staff in the School of Chemistry!

Best Regards
Prof Justin Holmes | Head of School
021 4902379

University College Cork and the School of Chemistry is proud to hold an Athena SWAN Bronze Award. Advancing gender equality: representation, progression and success for all.

Editor | Dr Trevor Carey
© School of Chemistry @ UCC

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