Past Talks

The Creation of Molecular Nanostructures with Unusual Electronic

Tue12
Jan

18:15

The Creation of Molecular Nanostructures with Unusual Electronic

Professor Harry Anderson
18:15, Tuesday 12 January 2021

The dream of building integrated circuits from single-molecule electronic components has been discussed since the 1970s, as the ultimate in miniaturisation. It is still a remote prospect, but there have been dramatic advances in our ability to synthesise molecular wires and test their charge-transport behaviour. This lecture will present some of my group’s recent research on the design, synthesis and characterisation of molecular wires. This includes both linear wires, which mediate charge-transport over several nm with high conductance, and molecular wire nanorings, which exhibit aromatic or antiaromatic ring currents. Aromaticity was once thought to be limited to small molecules, but we have shown that it extends to rings with circuits of at least 162 π-electrons, as demonstrated by studies of a 12-porphyrin nanoring. One day, it may be possible to use structures of this type as single-molecule electronic devices. 
Link for UCL students and staff is on the moodle page.
For non UCL staff/students, please sign up to the event for free here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/molecular-nanostructures-with-unusual-electronic-and-optical-properities-tickets-134153606047?aff

The Future of Particle Physics

Tue19
Jan

18:15

The Future of Particle Physics

Dr Harry Cliff
18:15, Tuesday 19 January 2021

Dr Harry Cliff will explore whether particle physics is in crisis following the drought of new discoveries at the Large Hadron Collider and whether we need a new generation of giant colliders to continue to explore nature at the smallest scales.
Link for UCL students and staff is on the moodle page.
For non UCL staff/students, please sign up to the event for free here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-future-of-particle-physics-dr-harry-cliff-tickets-134153740449?aff

Two Sides of the Same Fish: Developing Tools for Scientific and Social Questions

Wed20
Jan

13:00

Two Sides of the Same Fish: Developing Tools for Scientific and Social Questions

Madina Wane
13:00, Wednesday 20 January 2021

Madina Wane is a PhD candidate at Imperial College London who has recently submitted her thesis in immunology. In this talk, she will discuss the importance of developing new systems to explore scientific concepts in different ways using the example of her PhD research. Her research has focused on assessing zebrafish as a novel animal model to study respiratory immunology.
As scientists, our goals revolve around explaining unanswered questions. This requires us to challenge assumptions and explore ideas in a diversity of ways. However, with financial, social and time pressures placed on scientists, it is often easier to go along with conventional practices.
In addition, the talk will cover Madina’s work as a co-founder of Black in Immuno, an organisation tackling racial inequity in immunology. This will highlight how scientists can use the same critical thinking skills to address scientific and social issues and make positive contributions to society and our communities.
Link for UCL students and staff is on the moodle page.
For non-UCL staff/students, please sign up to the event for free here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/two-sides-of-the-same-fishdeveloping-tools-for-scientificsocial-questions-tickets-136420269699

Equality, diversity and inclusion in science and health research

Tue26
Jan

18:15

Equality, diversity and inclusion in science and health research

Dr Lilian Hunt
18:15, Tuesday 26 January 2021

Dr Lilian Hunt is the programme lead for EDIS, a coalition of 18 organisations in the life and health sciences committed to improving equality, diversity and inclusion across the sector, hosted by Wellcome. Her talk will cover how the coalition and its members have worked together to identify sector-wide issues and taken action as a collective to develop solutions. She will touch on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on both researchers and health inequalities as an example of the systems thinking approach needed to improve EDI, as well as what the next steps for positive change could look like. Lilian received her PhD in genetics from UCL whilst at the Francis Crick institute in 2018 and has been working on EDIS with Wellcome since 2017.
Link for UCL students and staff is on the moodle page.
For non UCL staff/students, please sign up to the event for free here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/equality-diversity-and-inclusion-in-science-and-health-research-tickets-132425864325?aff

Visualizing Molecular Structure and Function in Soft Matter Using Vibration

Wed27
Jan

13:00

Visualizing Molecular Structure and Function in Soft Matter Using Vibration

Prof. Sapun Parekh
13:00, Wednesday 27 January 2021

Lecture given by Prof. Sapun Parekh.
Structure-function relationships often define how molecular processes give rise to macroscopic observables. In this talk, I will present an overview of our recent work using nonlinear vibrational spectroscopic imaging to reveal unique structure-function relationships in polymeric soft matter systems. We have used this imaging technology to map protein structure in fibrin biopolymer networks (that lie at the heart of blood coagulation) and demonstrated that fibrin biopolymers change structure in a spatially heterogeneous manner when exposed to tensile, but not shear, loads. This result hints at a unique self-regulating mechanism via a direct biophysical feedback loop in a physiological context. In another project measuring real-time water transport, we have shown that under-coordinated microscopic water transport and macroscopic proton transport are related in nano-structured polymer fuel cell membranes. From these data, we have proposed a strategy to boost efficiency in fuel cell membrane materials. The ability to measure molecular properties of soft materials in heterogeneous environments and correlate those properties with functional behaviors in situ offers new insights for rational design of next-generation materials.
For UCL students and staff find the link on Moodle
Non-UCL staff/students, sign up for free via this Eventbrite link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/visualizing-molecular-structure-and-function-in-soft-matter-using-vibration-tickets-138161311201

Science communication during a pandemic: are we part of the problem?

Tue02
Feb

18:15

Science communication during a pandemic: are we part of the problem?

Dr Rohin Francis
18:15, Tuesday 2 February 2021

he last 12 months have placed science front and centre in the public eye like never before. Politicians and the media have come in for deserved criticism regarding how they have misrepresented scientific research, but what about scientists themselves? A huge amount of junk science has been published and worse still, clear science communication has been rare. In an era when anyone can communicate with the public via social media platforms, there has been a cacophony of messaging, both good and bad. "Dr" Rohin Francis is one such self-appointed science communicator, trust what he says at your peril!
Link for UCL students and staff is on the moodle page.
For non UCL staff/students, please sign up to the event for free here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/science-communication-during-a-pandemic-are-we-part-of-the-problem-tickets-132426267531

Adhesives at the Beach: Characterisation, Synthetic Mimics and Applications of Marine Biological Materials

Thu04
Feb

18:15

Adhesives at the Beach: Characterisation, Synthetic Mimics and Applications of Marine Biological Materials

Professor Jonathan Wilker
18:15, Thursday 4 February 2021

Imagine trying to live at the beach, constantly being pounded by waves. Nature has developed intriguing classes of adhesives for allowing mussels, barnacles, and oysters to stay in place. By contrast, consider all of the adhesives that you can buy at the hardware store. None function well in water. How do these animals stick in such an environment? What can we do with this technology once we understand it? Our group is working to uncover these secrets of how shellfish. We are then using insights for the development of biomimetic materials. In doing so we have created new materials that can bond more strongly than Super Glue. These synthetic polymers also appear to be one of the strongest underwater adhesives seen to date. Surgical connection of tissues may be less traumatic when we can transition from sutures and screws to biocompatible adhesives. Replacing carcinogens in plywood and fiberboard adhesives will have significant health impacts. Other applications of focus include creating debonding adhesives for electronics to enable recycling, making replacements for the toxic glues used in cosmetics, and developing underwater adhesives to aid coral reef restoration efforts.
 
Link for UCL students and staff is on the moodle page.
For non UCL staff/students, please sign up to the event for free here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/adhesives-at-the-beach-characterization-synthetic-mimics-applications-tickets-135576552117?aff=

Writing science into people’s brains

Tue09
Feb

18:15

Writing science into people’s brains

Andy Extance
18:15, Tuesday 9 February 2021

How would you react if I told you science was useless in guiding people’s everyday lives? Your response could be just one of many important points about getting your message across I hope to cover in this talk.

Journalists and editors – including science writers – learn to exploit tricks that seek to manipulate what we pay attention to. As chair of the Association of British Science Writers and a regular contributor to Chemistry World, I’ve become familiar with many of them.

Those tricks have some things in common with what medicinal chemists are aiming for when they try to develop drugs targeting the central nervous system. Communicating is all about psychology. Psychology is all about what’s going on in your neurons – which ultimately all comes down to chemistry.

These underlying phenomena are vital for helping people to use science. To bring a finding to the public, the public must want to know about it. Part of that is about the value of the research itself, but much also relies on the principles of how we think.

Link for UCL students and staff is on the moodle page.
For non UCL staff/students, please sign up to the event for free here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/writing-science-into-peoples-brains-tickets-132424195333

COVID-19 and its impacts on the atmosphere: A glimpse into the future?

Tue23
Feb

18:15

COVID-19 and its impacts on the atmosphere: A glimpse into the future?

Dr Alex Archibald
18:15, Tuesday 23 February 2021

The atmosphere is an incredibly complex part of the Earth and host to an immense amount of interesting chemistry. Through this complex chemistry, the atmosphere protects our skins from the harmful radiation of the sun and provides the planet with the vital components for life. But right now, the atmosphere faces some huge challenges. The Climate Crisis and Air Pollution affect every single person on the planet. The recent lockdowns associated with the global COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in a dramatic change in our everyday life and in this talk I will review some of what we know on the impacts that this has had on air pollution and climate change.
 
Link for UCL students and staff is on the moodle page.
For non UCL staff/students, please sign up to the event for free here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/covid-19-and-its-impacts-on-the-atmosphere-a-glimpse-into-the-future-tickets-132423110087

Looking Past the Periodic Table: The Discovery and Chemistry of the Superheavy Elements

Thu25
Feb

18:15

Looking Past the Periodic Table: The Discovery and Chemistry of the Superheavy Elements

Dr Dawn Shaughnessy
18:15, Thursday 25 February 2021

The heavy element group at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has had a long tradition of nuclear and radiochemistry dating back to the 1950’s. Some of the most exciting work has taken place in the last two decades (in collaboration with the Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions in Dubna, Russia) with the discovery of five new elements -114, 115, 116, 117, and 118. By pushing the boundaries of the periodic table, we can start to answer some of the most fundamental questions of nuclear science, such as the locations of the next “magic numbers” of protons and neutrons, and the possibility of an “Island of Stability” where nuclides would have lifetimes much longer than those currently observed in the heaviest elements. We have seen evidence of extra-stability in the heaviest nuclides leading to half-lives that are long enough for us to perform chemistry on these isotopes one atom at a time. Work is underway on developing an automated chemical system that will be used for studying chemical properties of the heaviest elements including element 114 where the chemical properties are completely unknown. In this overview the discovery of these new elements and the chemical experiments in progress will be discussed.
Link for UCL students and staff is on the moodle page.
For non UCL staff/students, please sign up to the event for free here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/past-the-periodic-table-discovery-chemistry-of-the-superheavy-elements-tickets-134153784581

The Discovery and Chemistry of the Superheavy Elements

Thu25
Feb

18:15

The Discovery and Chemistry of the Superheavy Elements

Dr Dawn Shaughnessy
18:15, Thursday 25 February 2021

Dr Shaughnessy led the group that discovered superheavy elements 114 to 118.

The heavy element group at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has had a long tradition of nuclear and radiochemistry dating back to the 1950s. Some of the most exciting work has taken place in the last two decades (in collaboration with the Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions in Dubna, Russia) with the discovery of five new elements -114, 115, 116, 117, and 118. By pushing the boundaries of the periodic table, we can start to answer some of the most fundamental questions of nuclear science, such as the locations of the next “magic numbers” of protons and neutrons, and the possibility of an “Island of Stability” where nuclides would have lifetimes much longer than those currently observed in the heaviest elements. We have seen evidence of extra-stability in the heaviest nuclides leading to half-lives that are long enough for us to perform chemistry on these isotopes one atom at a time. Work is underway on developing an automated chemical system that will be used for studying chemical properties of the heaviest elements including element 114 where the chemical properties are completely unknown. In this overview, the discovery of these new elements and the chemical experiments in progress will be discussed.

Reasons to be cheerful (part III): Climate optimism for troubled times

Tue02
Mar

18:15

Reasons to be cheerful (part III): Climate optimism for troubled times

Dr Ella Gilbert
18:15, Tuesday 2 March 2021

Are you feeling dejected, dismayed and depressed by the scale and pace of climate change? Do you feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the challenge it presents? If so, you are not alone.
 
Climate change is the biggest test of our times, altering every corner of the planet we call home. From the vast ice sheets at the faraway poles to the dense rainforests and empty deserts in the tropics and even down to the birds and bumblebees on your very doorstep, climate change affects us all, no matter where we live. To tackle this problem will require a gargantuan effort from all sectors of society, the economy and from across political divides.
 
It may seem an impossible undertaking, but there is hope.
 
In this talk, Dr Ella Gilbert, Antarctic climate scientist and veteran environmental campaigner, will give you reason for optimism. She will take you through what needs to be done to tackle the problem, and give you examples of how people are already finding solutions. Whether its grassroots campaigners, young people demanding change, or new tech start-ups finding creative answers to difficult questions, there are plenty of reasons to be cheerful.
Link for UCL students and staff is on the moodle page.
For non UCL staff/students, please sign up to the event for free here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/reasons-to-be-cheerful-part-3-climate-optimism-for-troubled-times-tickets-132421565467

Ageless: The new science of getting older without getting old

Wed03
Mar

13:00

Ageless: The new science of getting older without getting old

Dr Andrew Steele
13:00, Wednesday 3 March 2021

Ageing—not cancer or heart disease—is the world’s leading cause of death and suffering. In spite of this, we accept the ageing process as inevitable. We come to terms with the fact that our bodies and minds will begin to deteriorate and our risk of disease will rise as we get older. Ageing is so deeply ingrained in the human experience that we never stop to ask: is it necessary?

Scientist and writer Dr Andrew Steele, author of the new book Ageless, wants to convince you that it isn’t. From ageless animals like tortoises and jellyfish, to dietary and genetic changes that can make everything from worms to mice (and maybe humans) live longer in good health, to drugs that can remove aged ‘senescent’ cells and defer a whole range of age-related changes, there’s ample evidence that ageing isn’t inevitable—and treatments could be coming to a clinic near you sooner than you think.

Find out how the scientific implications of ageing biology could lead to the greatest revolution in the history of medicine—one that has the potential to improve billions of lives, save trillions of dollars, and transform the human condition.
Link for UCL students and staff is on the moodle page.
For non UCL staff/students, please sign up to the event for free here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ageless-the-new-science-of-getting-older-without-getting-old-tickets-140584075755

Water Harvesting from Desert Air

Tue09
Mar

18:15

Water Harvesting from Desert Air

Professor Omar Yaghi 
18:15, Tuesday 9 March 2021

Talk given by Prof Omar Yaghi
Linking of molecular building blocks by strong bonds into crystalline extended structures (reticular chemistry) such as metal-organic frameworks and covalent organic frameworks has made available precisely designed infinite 2D and 3D materials. The challenges and solutions to making crystalline, permanently porous frameworks, and the ‘grammar’ of linking organic and inorganic building blocks by strong bonds will be described. The resulting structures encompass space within which molecules can be further manipulated and controlled, leading to excellent catalysts, carbon capture and conversion to fuels, and in general, new conceptual advances in carrying out covalent chemistry beyond molecules. Our efforts in using reticular chemistry to create structures capable of water harvesting from desert air will be presented. These include the results of our three generations of ‘laboratory to desert’ devices showing how the vision of distributed, mobile, personalized, ultrapure water can be realized.
Link for UCL students and staff is on the moodle page.
For non UCL staff/students, please sign up to the event for free here:https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/water-harvesting-from-desert-air-prof-omar-yaghi-tickets-134174342069

Catalytic Activation of Renewable Resources to Make Plastics, Elastomers and Adhesives

Wed10
Mar

13:00

Catalytic Activation of Renewable Resources to Make Plastics, Elastomers and Adhesives

Professor Charlotte Williams
13:00, Wednesday 10 March 2021

Talk Given by Prof Charlotte Williams.
The lecture will describe recent research from the Williams group on developing new catalysts that activate renewable resources like plant derived bio-chemicals and carbon dioxide to make polymers. The first part of the lecture will introduce the catalyses (cyclic lactone ring-opening polymerization and epoxide/carbon dioxide/cyclic anhydride ring opening copolymerizations). It will provide a recent case study on how heterodinuclear synergy can be exploited to make highly active catalysts for carbon dioxide copolymerization. In the second part of the lecture, the importance of these catalysts and polymers will be illustrated with case studies showing the preparation of ductile plastics, thermoplastic elastomers and polymer pressure sensitive adhesives. In this part, the polymer structure and property relationships will be explored, in particular how the precise placement of carbon dioxide in the chemical structures can be used to alter and tune properties for specific applications. The lecture will close with an examination of the future challenges in this field and opportunities for problems to solve.
Link for UCL students and staff is on the moodle page.
For non UCL staff/students, please sign up to the event for free here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/catalytic-activation-of-renewable-resources-to-make-plastics-tickets-140592938263

Recombinant spider silk materials for novel antimicrobial biomaterials using click chemistry

Thu11
Mar

18:15

Recombinant spider silk materials for novel antimicrobial biomaterials using click chemistry

Jolanta Beinarovica
18:15, Thursday 11 March 2021

Spider silk is known for its excellent mechanical properties – it is tougher than high tensile strength steel and bulletproof Kevlar. However, cannibalistic and territorial nature of spiders prevents industrial levels of silk farming to obtain enough material for biomedical applications. Using synthetic biology, we can produce recombinant spider silk at a scale. This talk will discuss recombinant silk production and use of click chemistry to imbue silk with properties it would not ordinarily have.
 
Link for UCL students and staff is on the moodle page.
For non UCL staff/students, please sign up to the event for free here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/synthetic-spider-silk-as-antimicrobial-biomaterials-tickets-135721766457?aff=
 

Measuring atmospheric compounds as a disabled chemist

Tue16
Mar

18:15

Measuring atmospheric compounds as a disabled chemist

Krystal Vasquez
18:15, Tuesday 16 March 2021

The majority of atmospheric gases can be categorized within a chemical family called oxygenated volatile organic compounds (OVOCs), which play key roles in the formation of air pollutants such as tropospheric ozone and secondary organic aerosols. Yet, despite their importance, analytical challenges have hampered our ability to make precise ambient measurements of OVOCs. That’s why my research group has developed a new in-situ gas chromatography (GC) technique that, when combined with the sensitive and specific detection of chemical ionization mass spectrometry (CIMS), is capable of isomer-resolved detection of a wide range of OVOCs. In this talk, I will discuss this analytical method and present a case study in which the dataset obtained from this new instrument helped us better understand the atmospheric fates of key air pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides (NOx). I will also talk about challenges disabled chemists, like myself, face when conducting scientific research and why disability needs to be included in STEM diversity initiatives.
Link for UCL students and staff is on the moodle page.
For non UCL staff/students, please sign up to the event for free here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/measuring-atmospheric-compounds-as-a-disabled-chemist-tickets-134174396231

To oxidize or protect against oxidation – that is the question.

Wed17
Mar

13:00

To oxidize or protect against oxidation – that is the question.

Professor Květoslava Burda
13:00, Wednesday 17 March 2021

The direction of the evolution of life on Earth was determined by the appearance of O2 in the atmosphere. The oxygen molecule is a key substrate in aerobic cellular respiration, during which life energy is produced. For example, Hemoglobin-filled erythrocytes are responsible for delivering O2 to our cells. The consumption and utilization of oxygen in various physiological processes result in the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Free radicals containing oxygen, H2O2 and singlet oxygen belong to ROS. They are highly reactive and involved in numerous biochemical processes, both in normal physiology and pathophysiology. Their mass reactivity can either protect the cell or exacerbate cell damage. Therefore, living organisms have developed numerous defence mechanisms against ROS, including endogenous and exogenous antioxidants. New pro-oxidative mechanisms at the level of erythrocytes with a protective effect against malaria will be presented. A new mechanism by which the popular antioxidant β-carotene interacts with red blood cells and its potential to regulate oxygen supply to cells will also be discussed.
Link for UCL students and staff is on the moodle page.
For non UCL staff/students, please sign up to the event for free here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/to-oxidize-or-protect-against-oxidation-that-is-the-question-tickets-142390554983

Does a Good Chemist Make a Good Cook?

Tue23
Mar

18:15

Does a Good Chemist Make a Good Cook?

Dr Tamara Alhilfi
18:15, Tuesday 23 March 2021

One of the last talks of the term given by our very own President Dr Tamara Alhilfi!
Add 50g of X to a container, add 50 mL of Y and heat for 1 hour - is this a recipe for the kitchen or the laboratory? In this talk, I will explore the link between food and chemistry. We will look at the ways modern chefs and mixologists are using chemistry techniques, and what we as chemists can learn from the discipline. The pedagogy associated with teaching students how to be good synthetic chemists will be covered, with some of my own PhD research in polymer chemistry sprinkled in. You'll also learn how to make the perfect Yorkshire pudding!
Link for UCL students and staff is on the moodle page.
For non UCL staff/students, please sign up to the event for free here:  https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/dr-tamara-alhilfi-tickets-134174478477

Mental Health Workshop

Thu25
Mar

18:15

Mental Health Workshop

Dr Zoe Ayres
18:15, Thursday 25 March 2021

Often there, rarely discussed, this talk will cover some of the key stressors that impact the mental health of PhD researchers, postdoctoral staff, through to professorship. This talk focuses on raising awareness of the issues that people may face, as well as providing practical tips for navigating the often difficult path through the academic landscape, both as individuals and at an institutional level. 

Zoë is an analytical scientist by background, with an undergraduate degree in Forensic Science, Masters in analytical chemistry and PhD in electrochemical sensor development. After spending several years in academia post-PhD, she moved to industry, and is now an analytical Senior Scientist in the water industry. Zoë is also is a mental health advocate in her spare time, working towards improving mental health in research settings, primarily focusing on academic mental health. She raises awareness of the common issues people face throughout academia through various campaigns, talks and initiatives, and is the author of the #mentalhealth poster series on Twitter. 

This event is open only to the MAPS Faculty of UCL. You should receive an email containing a private eventbrite link. If you have not received this but would like to register, please email uccacps@live.ucl.ac.uk