McCOY Prizes for Year 4 Students

News | Posted on Thursday 8 February 2024

Congratulations to Year 4 undergraduate students Grace and Pip who have been awarded a Department of Chemistry “MChem Communicator of the Year” (McCOY) Prize.

Front cover of The Chemist's Brew

The ability to communicate effectively to a wide range of audiences continues to be a critical skill identified by employers. As part of a year 4 open learning module, our students can develop their communication skills through summarising a chemistry research paper to a pre-university audience. A prize is awarded to the student whose article or video is judged to be the most original, striking, imaginative, scientifically accurate and appropriate to the audience.

This year, McCOY prizes were awarded to Grace Parkinson and Pip Ho.

Grace produced an eye-catching article that discussed a research article by York researchers entitled “New experimental evidence for in-chain amino acid racemization of serine in a model peptide” The article discussed how a change in stereochemistry of the amino-acid L–serine plays a role in ageing processes and diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Strengths of the article included a clear and concise description of the underlying chemistry, and excellent use of colourful figures.

Pip produced an engaging video that discussed a research paper by York researchers entitled “Unavoidable food supply chain waste: acid-free pectin extraction from mango peel via subcritical water”. The video discussed the importance of pectin in commercial applications and how it can be efficiently extracted from mango peel, a food waste product, using subcritical water at different temperatures. Strengths of the video included clear explanations of key terms, relatable contexts, and the narration being pitched appropriately for the target audience.

Dr Julia Sarju, who judged the competition entries and provided written feedback, noted “I was very impressed with how both Grace and Pip translated cutting edge chemistry research written for specialist audiences into engaging and accessible content.”