Postgraduate Student Profiles

Research (UK)

Research Student Profiles

UK

Richard Green, PhD

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Richard qualified as a Chartered Accountant and pursued a career in industry. He always retained an interest in science, so after deciding to retire early, he resumed his studies, working at home, with the intention of going back to university. 

He successfully completed an MSc in Advanced Magnetic Resonance and Mass Spectrometry at York before taking up a  PhD position in Theoretical Aspects of Hyperpolarisation in Magnetic Resonance Studies under Professors Simon Duckett (Chemistry) and Gary Green (Psychology).

After completing his PhD, Richard took up a research post in the University's Centre for Hyperpolarisation in Magnetic Resonance.

 

Research (EU)

Research Student Profiles

EU

Barbara Procacci, PhD, Italy

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Barbara completed her PhD in the field of organometallic chemistry, focusing on understanding mechanisms of reactions involving activation of small molecules by Rh and Ru centres, using  NMR spectroscopy and laser flash photolysis as techniques under the supervision of Professor Robin Perutz in the Inorganic Chemistry section.

Barbara said of her experience "Besides improving my chemical knowledge and my practical skills I was part of a brilliant research group where I found very good colleagues and even better friends to enjoy the free time with. In the Department all the staff are very friendly and ready to help in any occasion."

Since completing her PhD, Barbara has been working for Professor Perutz as a research assistant.

 

Jaydene Halliday, PhD student, Ireland

Jaydene Halliday

Jaydene carried out her PhD at York in Professor Ally Lewis' research group within the Wolfson Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratories (WACL) into "Technologies toward a Lab-on-a-Chip GC for Environmental Research". 

Jaydene said of her experience "I soon became aware of the Department of Chemistry's excellent reputation for teaching and research. When I came to York for my interview I fell in love with the beautiful city and instantly felt at home within the University. The Department is extremely supportive, with state of the art equipment and facilities, and the members of my research group are not only helpful, knowledgeable colleagues and leading practitioners in their field, but now also good friends."

Following her PhD, she took up a position as a GC Technical Specialist at Phenomenex before taking up a position as a Senior Analyst at CSI Drug & Alcohol Testing Ltd.

 

Marcus Fischer, Germany, PhD

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Marcus completed his PhD with Professor Rod Hubbard into the Structural Biophysics of Ligand, Fragment and Water Interactions with Substrate Binding Protein SiaP. Whilst at York he presented his work at York, Sheffield and Grenoble and gave research talks in York, Oxford and Grenoble and published several papers. He was awarded the Kathleen Mary Stott Prize.

After gradutaion, Marcus took up a post-doctoral position at the University of California San Francisco School of Pharmacy in the USA.

 

Gonzalo Gonzalez Abad, Spain, PhD

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After completing his PhD at the University of York into satellite retrievals of HCOOH, C2H6 and C2H2, Gonzalo now works as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in the USA, on the Atomic and Molecular Physics division.

His research there involves the development of software for the total column retrieval of gases such as O3, BrO, NO2, SO2, HCHO and CHOCHO using the Ozone Monitoring Experiment (OMI) instrument. This instrument, flying aboard the AURA, a NASA satellite, consists of two imaging spectrometers working in the UV-VIS spectral range (270 - 500 nm).

Research (Overseas)

Research Student Profiles

Overseas

Imelda Silalahi, Indonesia, PhD

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Imelda carried out her PhD under the supervision of Professor Duncan Bruce in the Materials Chemistry Research Group, with sponsorship from the Ministry of National Education, Republic of Indonesia. Her PhD was investigating the mechanism of tetraalkylammonium activation by platinum (IV) complexes with the use of infra-red spectroscopy and single-crystal X-ray diffraction.

Imelda commented "It was always my dream to study Chemistry in the UK. With its excellent academic reputation in both teaching and research, the Department of Chemistry at York provided me with a conducive and supportive study environment. With comprehensive support from the University of York as well as from the Department of Chemistry, I was able to to gain valuable knowledge and skills that are beneficial, not only for my personal development, but also for the needs of my country".

Babatunde Okesola, Nigeria, PhD

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Babatunde graduated from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria with the best grade in the Faculty of Natural Sciences. Despite his achievement, he agrees “no success comes on a platter of gold. I personally overcame most of the challenges I encountered by leveraging my ability to contextualise chemistry through everyday life examples."

Since graduating, Babatunde secured a Wild Fund Scholarship that partly paid his tuition and he moved to the University of York to start his research for his PhD. Working with Professor David Smith in the Organic Chemistry Research Group on supramolecular hydrogels, he aims to harness the power of supramolecular interactions to assemble novel small molecules into hydrogels. Some of the gel-phase materials that Tunde has developed can capture pollutants such as mercury, lead, cadmium and various toxic dyes and remove them from water; hence they are called Supramolecular Envirogels.

Not only has his research afforded Babatunde the opportunity to use sophisticated equipment unavailable in Nigeria, but a passion for addressing human problems such as water purification systems. For his research, he has been awarded the Kathleen Mary Scott prize by the University of York and recognised as a ‘Human of York.’ His works have been published in reputable journals and he became one of the Royal Society of Chemistry's 175 Faces of Chemistry celebrating diversity in science.

Yuan He, China, PhD

Photo of Yuan He

Yuan undertook her PhD project under the supervision of Professor Gideon Davies in the York Structural Biology Laboratory (YSBL). Her project was focused on the study of the catalytic mechanism of O-GlcNAc hydrolase and the development of small molecular inhibitors as chemical probes of cellular function. During her PhD, Yuan investigated a series of compounds representing various templates using a combination of enzymic kinetic, thermodynamic and X-ray crystallographic studies. For instance, she developed a potent and selective O-GlcNAcase inhibitor that could prevent phosphate damage to tau in the initiation of Alzheimer’s disease. Yuan was awarded the Department of Chemistry's Shell Poster Award.

Following her PhD, Yuan took up a research position at the Scripps Research Institute in the USA. 

 

Min Ying Tsang, Hong Kong, MSc by Research

photo of Min Ying Tsang    

Min Ying Tsang carried out an MSc by Research in the Department of Chemistry under Dr Richard Douthwaite's supervision. Her project focussed on tantalum containing macroporous materials and the application to solar hydrogen generation. During her MSc, Ying learnt different techniques related to solid state chemistry such as PXRD, SEM and TEM in our laboratories and also the York JEOL Nanocentre.

Ying said "I could undergo my research project smoothly with the easy access to equipment, having the help of friendly colleagues and my supervisor, and indispensably the Wild Fund scholarship which provided me with financial support during my stay in York. I really enjoyed my time doing the Masters course; not only the research work, but also the campus life. After completing the MSc, I continued to do a PhD in materials science in Spain (ICMAB-CSIC). My research experience from York helps me a lot to keep going in my research career."

Taught (UK)

Taught Student Profiles

UK

 

Polly-Ann Hanson, MSc in Green Chemistry & Sustainable Industrial Technology

Polly-Ann Hanson

I couldn’t be happier with my decision to study green chemistry at York. The content of the course is always new and relevant, with current research being filtered down to us through our lecturers, who are all able to talk about their subject area enthusiastically. The course structure has been an exciting change from undergraduate, with a variety of lectures, workshops, presentations, and a wide variety of forms of assessment. What I really love about it is that our group is relatively small, so fully engaging with the course is made much easier- discussing ideas with the lecturers or improving on your individual presentation skills- things like this have really made the course enjoyable for me.

However, my individual research project has been the most exciting and challenging part of the course, and my supervisor has always been there to offer support and guidance when needed. In the last six months I have become an expert on one topic, but this has been built on a strong foundation of the principles of green chemistry. For anyone interested in green chemistry I would definitely recommend this course. 

Katie Privett, MSc in Green Chemistry & Sustainable Industrial Technology

Katie Privett

Katie completed the MSc in Green Chemistry & Sustainable Industrial Technology at York in 2012. She said of her experience "I knew that the MSc course was going to be a challenge for me, coming fresh from an Environmental Science undergraduate and having not done much chemistry since college. However, with help from the staff and my fellow students, I progressed well and managed to keep up with the fast-moving course. The intensity of the course meant that I needed to balance my work load and often take charge in group projects to ensure deadlines were met.

"My project was in the area of elemental sustainability – I was attempting to produce heterogeneous catalysts from plants which had taken up metals from ‘contaminated’ waters. However, despite varied attempts, I couldn’t get my final catalysts to work, meaning I had limited time to explain this result and adapt my discussion. This challenge taught me how to work for sustained periods under high pressure, which has been a useful skill in my new job, as has the ability to juggle and prioritise projects."

After completing the MSc, Katie was offered a position in the Green Chemistry Centre as a Training, Education & Networks Assistant. This role involved coordinating an EU-wide network of researchers and industrialists working towards creating value from food waste, arranging meetings and conferences with international collaborators and running outreach activities for all ages and abilities. Katie now works for the York Environmental Sustainability Institute as a Research Facilitator.

Claire Saville, MSc in Green Chemistry and Sustainable Industrial Technology

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Since the MSc I have been working as a Chemist at Infineum, a company that develops and manufacturers additives for lubricants which are used in cars, trucks and ships.  My role is in the designing and formulating of lubricants for Heavy Duty Trucks so that they meet emissions regulations and also to provide better fuel economy.  The industrial focused topics of the MSc, spanning over a number of areas, provided a good stepping stone between an undergraduate degree and a job in industry, helping me decide what area I wanted to work in.  The project gives the chance to put into practice everything you've learnt, develop some new skills and also get a good taste of what research is about.

 

Matthew Fishwick, MSc Green Chemistry and Sustainable Industrial Technology

 

Photo of Matthew Fishwick

From studying environmental science at Plymouth I became interested in the impact that industry has on the environment, with particular emphasis on the chemical industry, due to its scale. I decided to apply for this master’s course as I thought by studying the theory and practice of developing environmental begin chemicals and chemical processes this would help me understand how best to reduce this impact.

I was not disappointed when I started, finding all of the modules extremely interesting and worthwhile. The excellent links with industry this course has meant that I was able to carry out a project in collaboration with a major pharmaceutical company, which has no doubt helped me find a job upon finishing. Skills and knowledge gained from the course are of direct relevance to my present job as a Life Cycle Consultant at Dcarbon8.

Taught (EU)

Taught Student Profiles

EU

Stamatina Papageorgiou, MSc Green Chemistry and Sustainable Industrial Technology, Greece

Stamatina Papageorgiou

Upon finishing my BSc in Chemistry at the University of Athens, I was in search of a master’s course with an environmental focus that would be innovative, applied and one that would challenge me. Coming across the MSc in Green Chemistry and Sustainable Industrial Technology, I was instantly captivated. I found it unrivalled and one of a kind, rich in content, with an innovative approach towards chemistry and industrial technologies, ultimately leading to what green chemistry is and does.

My experience from the course was very rewarding. I enjoyed the program’s intensity, the group projects and the plethora of different assignments, from taking a traditional synthetic process and developing a green alternative, to presenting novel chemical engineering technology, and even setting up a business plan. The course offered some very useful transferable skills through activities like specific IT program inductions, career preparation sessions and even public outreach events; meanwhile, regular presentations made speaking and presenting to an audience a lot easier throughout the year. One major thing I admired about the program was how students were not only encouraged, but also assessed on practicing critical thinking.

The individual research project I worked on involved the depolymerisation of lignin, a fraction of the plant-derived biomass, to useful molecules with potential applications in the fuel and additives industry, as a more sustainable alternative to currently used chemicals. Throughout the project, I had constant guidance and support from my supervisor and everyone in the Centre, and at the same time I received plenty of encouragement for initiative taking, independence and the development of scientific ethic.

When I first applied for the course, I was very study-oriented, and hardly knew anything about York. It took me by surprise when I discovered what the city looked like. Well preserved but also modern, naturally diverse, small but busy and vibrant, abundant and shaped by history, it is no wonder that York was voted in 2018 the best place to live in the UK. Living in York added up to the experience of doing this MSc and getting to witness and work on some of the exciting chemistry that is taking place in the GCCE labs. Moreover, the people and the environment in the GCCE felt a lot like family, but at the same time set a high-standard, hard work culture. As for the future, my interests lie in the environmental domain, with waste management and environmental consulting being the most appealing to me.

 

Ray Hale, MSc Green Chemistry and Sustainable Industrial Technology, Ireland

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My time doing the MSc in Green Chemistry and Sustainable Industrial Technology proved to be one of the most educational and rewarding years that I've experienced. The course curriculum is unparalleled elsewhere. You become fully equipped with a relevant technical, scientific and global understanding of sustainability and environmental issues, therefore becoming a highly sought after specialist graduate in academia or industry.

The structure of the course means that you can identify your greatest areas of interest and pursue these common themes through related poster presentations, projects and ultimately your final year project. The course encourages you to  develop your team building skills through the Project Area Group (PAG), which fosters a team ethic from an early stage.

My final year project was concerned with the theme of Waste Management and Utilisation with the aim to add value to certain waste streams. Specifically, I carried out research for Unilever looking at their most abundant food waste stream, namely palm oil waste and using green chemical methodology, synthesised useful components which could be integrated into some of their popular commodities, such as Vaseline and beauty products. I really noticed the benefit of the research, as it develops your independence and scientific curiosity.

Personally, one of the most exciting aspects of the year was the chance to engage in many educational outreach initiatives, informing and educating all members of the public, from primary school kids to adults, about the local and global environmental concerns that affect us all.

 

Aleksandra Borisova, MSc Green Chemistry and Sustainable Industrial Technology, Lithuania

Photo of Aleksandra Borisova (Sasha)

During my undergraduate course in Chemistry and Pharmacology at Kingston University (UK), I had a 12 month industrial placement at GlaxoSmithKline where I became aware of the industrial ecology and waste problems. I also received an insight into green chemistry through one of the modules in my final year, although it was disproportionately small considering the scope of the subject. Both of these events made me realize how much I wanted to work in the green sector, but that I had too little knowledge of the area to be employable. At that point I knew my study wasn’t over, and after looking for suitable courses I couldn’t find any better one than the MSc in Green Chemistry and Sustainable Industrial Technology at York.

The course was a perfect way to get a taste of the breadth and depth of the growing green sector, with an array of possibilities of career paths. A lot of material on the course was delivered by professionals with first-hand experience in the topics, which made studying feel realistic and worthwhile, and a big step towards an exciting career. I liked the atmosphere of innovation in the Green Chemistry Centre so much that I decided to stay for a PhD, despite my decision from few years ago never to do a PhD. I am currently delving into the world of lifecycle assessment of consumer products and resource efficiency, and despite the workload I am absolutely loving it.

 

Taught (Overseas)

Taught Student Profiles

Overseas

Abdulrahman Alwehaibi, MSc in Green Chemistry and Sustainable Industrial Technology, Saudi Arabia

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The MSc in Green Chemistry & Sustainable Industrial Technology changed my view toward classical chemistry and gave me new skills on how to deal with chemicals in industry. The Green Chemistry Centre has excellent staff that supported me during my study and lab work.

My research project involved replacing commercial antioxidants that are used in fuels and lubricants by extracting natural antioxidants from barley dust using microwave technology. The positive results encouraged me to continue on to do a PhD in this area at York.

Maggie Zhu, MSc in Green Chemistry and Sustainable Industrial Technology, China

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I found the MSc in Green Chemistry & Sustainable Industrial Technology to be very helpful in preparing me for my PhD study. It features cutting edge technology in terms of biomass biorefining and renewable materials, and I learned a lot of fundamental knowledge of green chemistry. During the completion of my research project, I developed my basic research skills and study method, and also learned how to use different analysis instruments such as IR, GC-MS and TG-STA. Everyone in the centre is very friendly and always willing to help.