Volume 1, Issue 1.
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Departmental Newsletter

Issue 1 | April 2017


Welcome to the first issue of our Department of Chemistry newsletter. The quarterly publication will focus on departmental news, events, highlight recent achievements from staff and students and include some special features.


Issue Highlights

Photo: Fluorochem

- Introducing New Staff

- Applied Nano Discovery

- Undergraduate Student Awards

- SEFS Quercus Awards

- Feeney Goes to Paris

- Where Are They Now?

- Rubik's Cube Sensation


New Staff

Photo: Tomás Tyner, UCC.

A warm welcome to a number of new staff that have begun working in the department recently.

Dr Peter Byrne - Lecturer in Organic Chemistry
Dr Elizabeth Gilchrist - Lecturer in Analytical Chemistry
Dr Davide Tiana - Lecturer in Inorganic Chemistry
Dr Francis Harrington - Technical Officer
Ms Claire O'Sullivan - Senior Executive Assistant

Farewell to Dr Eileen O'Leary

Photo: Dr Trevor Carey

On behalf of all staff and students, we would like to wish our very best to Dr Eileen O'Leary who leaves the Chemistry Department and the School of Pharmacy after many years of great service and hard work.

Degree Accreditation

Photo: Royal Society of Chemistry

The Department of Chemistry has been given professional accreditation by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) for its B.Sc. (Honours) degrees in Chemistry and Chemistry of Pharmaceutical Compounds. 


Teaching & Learning Graduates

Photo: Dr Trevor Carey

Recently, a number of staff from across the department graduated with postgraduate certificates and diplomas in Teaching & Learning in Higher Education. Combined, the four graduates from the Department of Chemistry made up 40% of the total graduates from the College of SEFS. Congratulations to:

Dr Florence McCarthy - Postgraduate Diploma in Teaching and Learning
Dr Eric Moore - Postgraduate Diploma in Teaching and Learning
Dr Ian O'Connor - Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning
Dr Aoife O'Sullivan - Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning

Coffee Morning Fundraiser

Photo: Dr Ian O'Connor

In aid of Marymount Hospice, our Christmas Coffee Morning raised €3,500. A huge thank you to all staff and students who helped organise the event and to those of you that donated so generously.

Research News

Collaborative Work Involving McGlacken Group

Photo: UCC.ie

A collaborative team, involving Dr Ger McGlacken and Ph.D. student Rachel Shanahan, has come up with a way to break down the antibiotic resistance shown by some infections. It shows such promise that the Irish Times recently reported that scientists at the Biomerit Research Centre at University College Cork have already applied to patent the discovery and may have a company up and running within two years.


Award for Dr David McNulty

Photo: UCC.ie

Dr David McNulty is one of just three people from Ireland selected to participate in the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Lindau in June. Dr McNulty, a Postdoctoral Researcher in Dr Colm O’Dwyer’s Applied Nanoscience Group, described being one of only 400 young scientists from 76 countries invited to the meeting, this year focused on chemistry, as “a great honour.” More than 30 Nobel laureates have already confirmed their participation, including Bernard Feringa and Jean-Pierre Sauvage, who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2016.


New Atmospheric Simulation Chamber Part of €9M European Research Project

Photo: Dr John Wenger

More than 50 European scientists from 10 countries met in Paris last month for the kick-off meeting of the EUROCHAMP-2020 research infrastructure project. Representing UCC were Prof John Wenger and Dr Dean Venables.


Scientists Discover Way to Boost Life of Batteries

Photo: Tomás Tyner, UCC.

Dr Colm O'Dwyer and Dr David McNulty featured on RTÉ 6.01 News recently, speaking about their discovery, which could boost battery life in mobile devices. The method involves the use of titanium dioxide (TiO2), the naturally occurring material that is also capable of absorbing ultraviolet (UV) light. Colm and David found that when TiO2 is made into an ordered porous substance, it could charge and discharge over 5,000 times, equivalent to 13.5 years without any drop in capacity.


Postgraduate Student Focus

UCC Science for All Final

Photo: Catherine Buckley

Ph.D. student Andrés Molina has qualified for the 2017 final of Science For All - a UCC postgraduate science communication competition. Andrés, who works under the supervision of Dr Micheál Scanlon, will make a presentation on "From Photosynthesis to Solar Energy Conversion - a Chemical Approach". The final, featuring six Ph.D. students, takes place on Wednesday April 5th at 6.15pm in Western Gateway Building G05. All are welcome to attend.


Ph.D. Student Wins Poster Competition

Photo: Tyndall.ie

Ph.D. student Shauna Scanlon, under the supervision of Dr Eric Moore, won best poster at last year’s Smart Systems Integration (SSI) conference in Munich and this month she received her award at the 2017 SSI conference event. The SSI conference serves as a communication platform for academia, research and industry to exchange expertise on smart systems integration. Shauna’s poster presentation was on "Development of a multi-parameter sensing system for PAT application in the food and beverage industry".

SEFS Graduate of the Year Awards

Photo: Dr Trevor Carey

Congratulations to Ph.D. student Alex Lonergan, who was recently presented with the runner-up prize in the SEFS Graduate of the Year awards for 2016. Alex was chosen for the award following a comprehensive review, carried out by a panel made up of representatives from across the College of Science, Engineering and Food Science.

A B.Sc. Chemical Physics graduate, Alex's Irish Research Council funded research looks at electro-photonic materials for enhanced electrochemical energy storage, under the supervision of Dr Colm O'Dwyer.

Spring 2017 Conferring

Photo: Dr Trevor Carey

The Spring conferring ceremony on February 24th saw a huge number of chemistry students graduate with Ph.D., Taught M.Sc. and Research M.Sc. degrees. Congratulations to all students and their supervisors.


On Our Travels

Research Trip - Paris

Photo: Patrick Feeney

Words by Patrick Feeney (M.Sc.)
Supervisor: Prof John Sodeau

Recently, I got the opportunity to travel to Paris to visit a research centre, which collaborates with the Centre for Research into Atmospheric Chemistry (CRAC). It is located about 20 km outside of Paris centre in a town called Saclay. Our collaboration specifically focuses on the measurement of bioaerosols in ambient air e.g. pollen and fungal spores. Our group has recently purchased a unique type of Wideband Integrated Bioaerosol Sensor (WIBS) instrument that allows us to directly detect chlorophyll in grass Pollen. It is the only one of its type and will be used to complement all the other bioaerosol instrumentation data that the Saclay group are collecting. All of that will then be put into an atmospheric model to determine how bioaerosols disperse throughout the atmosphere. While we were there Minister of the Environment, Denis Naughten, announced that pollen would finally be measured in Ireland to give counts not dependent on those measured in Worcester. 

Our colleagues in Paris were very hospitable throughout our stay and took us out to some great restaurants, which my supervisor loved. Also during our visit, we met with a previous CRAC/Paris exchange student, Sakthivel Kartigueyane. He took us on a walking tour around Paris, showing us all the main attractions such as the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Elysees and the Luxemburg gardens. And of course the bars of the Bastille area. To be recommended.

Undergraduate Student Focus

SEFS Quercus Scholars

Photo: Dr Trevor Carey

On Friday last, March 31st, six of our undergraduate students were honoured as SEFS Quercus scholars, based on their academic results in 2015/16. Congratulations to all students:

Rónan Murray (B.Sc. Chemistry with Education 2)
Tomás Barriscale (B.Sc. Chemistry 2)

Amy Lowry (B.Sc. Chemistry of Pharmaceutical Compounds 3)
Anne Gayer (B.Sc. Chemistry 3)
Hannah Hayes (B.Sc. Chemistry of Pharmaceutical Compounds 4)
Aobha Hickey (B.Sc. Chemistry 4)


Undergraduate Poster Session 2017

Photo: Dr Trevor Carey

Well done to all 3rd year and 4th year students that presented their posters at the undergraduate poster session in Aula Maxima on March 29th. Full details on the winners from the event, sponsored by Eli Lilly, are as follows:

Photo: Dr Trevor Carey

3rd Year SCILs Poster Prize Winners 2017

1st Place: Erika Poceviciute and Leonie O'Sullivan
Project: The Chemistry Behind Dental Fillings.
Supervisor: Dr Dave Otway

Photo: Dr Trevor Carey

4th Year Chemistry of Pharmaceutical Compounds Poster Prize Winners 2017

1st Place: Michelle O'Sullivan
Project: A Structured Approach to Sphingosine Derived Isoquinolinequinones as Anticancer Agents.
Supervisor: Dr Florence McCarthy


2nd Place: Eolann Tracey
Project: Overexpression and purification of Actinin-3.
Supervisor: Dr Sinead Kerins

Photo: Dr Trevor Carey

4th Year Chemistry Poster Prize Winners 2017

1st Place (Tied): Aobha Hickey
Project: Synthesis of Benzofuroquinolines via Single C-H Activation.
Supervisor: Dr Ger McGlacken

1st Place (Tied): Leanne Woods
Project: Clinical Analysis of a Smart Probe for Breast Cancer Detection.
Supervisor: Dr Eric Moore


2nd Place: Fionnuala Lindsay
Project: Fabrication and Characterisation of Water Splitting Devices by Atomic Layer Deposition.
Supervisor: Prof Martyn Pemble


2017 Undergraduate Awards

Annual undergraduate prizes in Chemistry were awarded last week to a number of students. The ceremony took place in the Aula Maxima. Thanks to Eli Lilly and Oxford University Press for their continued support with these awards. Full details on this year's winners are as follows:

Photo: Dr Trevor Carey

Eli Lilly Chemistry Prize

This prize is awarded annually to the student who has obtained the highest mark in Chemistry and passed the Summer First University Examination in Science, at the first attempt, and who subsequently registers for an honours degree in Chemistry at UCC.

Recipient: Yuvaraj Khatri

History of Eli Lilly Chemistry Prize Recipients (1991-2016)

Photo: Dr Trevor Carey

Oxford University Press Book Prize

The Oxford University Press Book Prize award is presented to the student with the highest marks from 3rd Year Chemistry in the 2015/16 academic year.

Recipient: Aobha Hickey

History of OUP Book Prize Recipients (2014-2016)

Photo: Dr Trevor Carey

Reilly Chemistry Prize

For the purpose of perpetuating the memory of the late Professor J. Reilly, who was professor of Chemistry and Head of the Chemistry Department in UCC for the period 1924-1959, The Reilly prize is awarded to the candidate who has obtained first place in the fourth year B.Sc. (Honours) degree examination and has obtained first class honours.

Recipient: Eilis Ní Thuama

History of Reilly Chemistry Prize Recipients (1990-2016)

Photo: Orla O'Hea (Facebook)

George Guilbault Medal

The George Guilbault medal is awarded to the student who has achieved the highest aggregate performance in analytical chemistry, comprising the modules CM4026, CM4027 and either module CM4207 (B.Sc. Chemistry with Forensic Science students) or module CM4206 (B.Sc. Chemistry students). The prize is named in the memory of the late Professor George G. Guilbault, who was the 1st Chair Professor of Analytical Chemistry at University College Cork.

Recipient: Orla O'Hea

SEFS Summer Research Bursaries

Photo: SEFS (UCC)

Congratulations to 3rd year B.Sc. Chemistry students Anne Gayer and Aisling Foley, recipients of 2017 SEFS Summer Research Bursaries.

Details on their chosen projects and supervisors are as follows:

Recipient: Anne Gayer
Supervisor: Prof John Wenger
Project: Measurements of atmospheric particulate matter.

Recipient: Aisling Foley
Supervisor: Dr Tim O'Sullivan
Project: Molecular modelling, design and synthesis of novel drugs for Chagas disease.


Annual John Tobin Chemistry Quiz

Photo: Ehren Dixon

The 33rd annual John Tobin chemistry quiz took place on March 21st in Cafe Oasis, Áras na Mac Léinn. In memory of the late John Tobin, a former Ph.D. student in the department who sadly passed away in 1983, a great night was organised by the UCC Chemical Society. MC on the night was Dr Trevor Carey. Full details of the 2017 prize winners are as follows:

1st place (€200): Cormac Dineen, Kevin Holland, Cormac Fleming, Micheál O Lionáird.
2nd place (€100): Aisling Prendergast, David Jones, Aoife Foley, Craig Elliott.
3rd place (€60): Luke Broderick, Emma Coleman, Alison Shanahan, Danny Cashin.


Annual Chemistry Ball

Photo: Cathal Curran

The 2017 annual Chemistry Ball took place on Thursday February 23rd in Cork International Hotel. Well done to the UCC Chemical Society on organising a great event.


Outreach Focus

School Visit for Biodiversity Week

Photo: Dr Trevor Carey

As part of Biodiversity Week, Ph.D. student Paul Buckley visited Coláiste Muire in Cobh, Co. Cork to speak about his research into particles in the atmosphere. Paul discussed this topic with the Transition Year students as part of their Environmental Studies module.

A B.Sc. Chemistry graduate, Paul's EPA funded postgraduate research looks at the Nature and Origin of Black Carbon in Ireland, under the supervision of Prof John Wenger.

Youghal Careers Night

Photo: Rose O'Mahony

Ph.D. student Rose O'Mahony, recently represented the Chemistry Department at the 2017 Careers Night, held biannually, in Pobalscoil na Tríonóide (Youghal, Co. Cork).

A B.Sc. Chemistry of Pharmaceutical Compounds graduate, Rose's SSPC funded research looks at taming hazardous chemistry using continuous processing under the supervision of Prof Anita Maguire and Dr Stuart Collins.

Upcoming Outreach Events

Photo: Dr Trevor Carey

2017 Schools' Analyst Competition
Thursday April 27th, 2017.

2017 Salters Festival of Chemistry
Wednesday May 3rd 2017.


Lecturer in Pharmaceutical Chemistry

UCC wishes to appoint an academic to the role of Lecturer in Pharmaceutical Chemistry.  This is a joint appointment between the School of Pharmacy and Department of Chemistry. Full Details.

Technical Officer

Applications are invited for this part-time position (75 %) to cover the leave of the current post holder. The successful applicant will be required to contribute to the provision of general technical support for teaching and research activities across all areas of the Department but particularly in first year Chemistry laboratory classes.
Full Details

Ph.D. Studentship

Under the supervision of Dr Peter Byrne applications are invited for a Ph.D. studentship working in the areas of organic & organometallic chemistry. Full Details

Ph.D. Studentship

Applications are invited for a Ph.D. studentship in atmospheric chemistry. The research project, led by Dr Stig Hellebust will focus on the origins, fates and impacts of airborne particles and volatile organic compounds. Full Details

Ph.D. Studentship

Applications are invited for a Ph.D. studentship in computational modelling. The student will be supervised by Dr Davide Tiana, who has recently joined UCC with a vision for developing a strongly performing international group in the field of hybrid materials design. Full Details

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 John O'Callaghan

Photo: Dr John O'Callaghan

B.Sc. Chemistry (2004), Ph.D. Chemistry (2008).

What year did you arrive in UCC?
I arrived in UCC way back in 2000 after doing the leaving cert in the North Monastery secondary school in Cork City.

What course did you study?
The B.Sc. course I did was Chemical, Physical and Mathematical Sciences.  The CAO course code at that time was CK403, which as hard as I try, I cannot forget.

What was your favourite Chemistry topic and why?
I always enjoyed physical chemistry, with the materials and electrochemistry side especially interesting.  I think it was the chemistry with physics mix that appealed to me the most, as I felt it was not so much book learning but more application of theory and principle.

What was your best ‘Chemistry’ moment and why?
During my Ph.D., the first time my modelling of micelle neutron scattering began to resemble results in literature.

Who was your favourite chemistry staff member?
That is a very difficult question. There were so many people that helped me during my time in UCC that to name them all would take too long, but my supervisor Prof Justin Holmes gets the nod.

When did you leave UCC?
I spent a long time in UCC. My B.Sc. finished in 2004, my Ph.D. finished in 2008 and my first postdoctoral position in the School of Pharmacy finished in 2009.

What did you do straight after graduating?
I went straight into a Ph.D. after Prof Justin Holmes and Prof Mick Morris kindly offered me a position.

What are you doing now?
I have stayed in research. Now I am more of a research engineer in the life sciences field at Interuniversitair Micro-Elektronica Centrum (IMEC), which is a research institute in Leuven, Belgium.

Have you any advice for current students?
Learn as much as possible in other fields, not just chemistry, and learn some decent programming if you can as it is more useful than you might think.

Special Feature

Student Focus

Photo: Mary Hennessy (Facebook)

Name: Mary Hennessy
Course: B.Sc. Chemistry of Pharmaceutical Compounds
Year: Third Year

From: Threecastles, Co. Kilkenny

Mary is a third year student studying Chemistry of Pharmaceutical Compounds (CPC). As part of her degree programme, Mary will undertake her 20-week work placement this summer at AbbVie in Carrigtwohill, Co. Cork. AbbVie is a global biopharmaceutical company, founded in 2013, focused on addressing some of the world's greatest health challenges by bringing leading-edge therapies to the market. Mary also plays a key role as a leader in the First Year Chemistry PAL programme.

In some of her spare time, Mary's expertise switches from chemistry to the Rubik's cube. Mary can complete the Rubik's cube in a personal best time of 13.05 seconds and having competed in the Irish Championships in 2015 and 2016, she now ranks 21st in Ireland. The world record stands at 4.73 seconds. The technique she uses is called Fridrich's method, where the cube is solved in a layer-by-layer fashion from the bottom up. It involves solving the cross on the bottom face, and then the first two layers are solved simultaneously. Then using one of nine memorised algorithms, the top face is made all the same colour, and finally, one from a possible twenty-one algorithms is chosen to permute the top layer and solve the cube.

Mary explains her love for the hobby. "I think this is a hobby that anyone can get into. It is not as difficult as you think. There is over 43 quintillion possible combinations of scrambles of the cube and only one correct solution, so it is safe to say you will never get the same scramble twice. And I can tell you from experience, it's a great conversation starter, and is certainly memorable in job interviews." Watch Mary below, solving and explaining the Rubik's cube.

Did You Know?

Interesting Chemistry Facts

Photo: @didyouknowch3

- Lightning strikes produce ozone and have a big impact on the composition of our atmosphere.

- One bucketful of water contains more atoms than the Atlantic Ocean does bucketful's of water.

- The only letter that doesn't appear on the Periodic Table of Elements is J.

- The hardest chemical in your body is your tooth enamel.

- Bee stings are acidic while wasp stings are alkaline.

- Mosquitoes like the scent of estrogen, thus women are bitten more often than men.

Next Issue

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

Photo: Prof Justin Holmes
Best Regards
Prof Justin Holmes | Head of Department
021 4902379

Editor | Dr Trevor Carey
© Department of Chemistry | UCC

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