ChemistryAdmissionsTop Department for TeachingThe Department of Chemistry won fiveawards in the University of York Students’Union (YUSU) Excellence in Teaching andSupervision Awards2013. These awardsare led by students inpartnership with theUniversity, meaningthat studentsnominate, studentsdecide who wins with the help of staff,and together with staff they celebratethe exemplary work done by the amazingmembers of our University community.Our awards included the highlyprestigious Best Teaching Departmentat York, for which we are very proud.It further recognises the high qualityof teaching offered by the Department.February 2014 NEWSLETTERA First for Atmospheric ChemistryWe have just completed building the first dedicated laboratory building in the UKfor atmospheric chemistry research. Supported in part by a £1.25 million grant from theWolfson Foundation, the facility co-locates state-of-the-art global computer modellingfacilities with laboratory science and instrument technology development plus calibrationand logistics support for field observations.Top 5 Position in the 2014Guardian University GuideChemistry@York achieved a highlyimpressive overall score of 84.0% andwas ranked fifth for Chemistry in theGuardian University Guide. The leaguetable, which ranks fifty UK ChemistryDepartments, highlighted theconsistently excellent performanceof our department in various areasincluding satisfied with course, satisfiedwith teaching, and satisfied with feedback.Rating5Student : staffratio15.3Guardianscore / 10084Spend perstudent (FTE)7Satisfied withcourse (%)94Average entrytariff494Satisfied withteaching (%)90Value-addedscore / 106Satisfied withfeedback (%)82Career after6 months77Head of Department,Professor Richard Taylor, noted:Once again York Chemistry is inthe top 5 of a national leaguetable – and we are particularlydelighted with the high scoresfor course and teaching satisfaction.Our Wolfson Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratory (WACL) brings together our atmosphericresearch teams in Chemistry as well as providing experimental and modelling infrastructurefor interdisciplinary research across the University. It is home to faculty staff, post-doctoralresearchers, external research staff including those from the National Centre for AtmosphericScience and Defra, postgraduates and undergraduates undertaking research projects.National Teaching Fellowshipfor ProfessorDaveatYorkProfessor David Smith hasbeen awarded a 2013 National TeachingFellowship by the Higher EducationAcademy. This highly prestigious awardrecognises individual excellence in teachingand learning and is the first in theDepartment. Engagement, outreach andbuilding communities of active learnersand educators lie at the heart ofProfessor Smith’s educational practice.Megan Spencer’s YouTube video on ‘polymers in aviation’,filmed in a plane, in California (http://tinyurl.com/p2xy2fv)A wide range of innovative approacheshas been used to engage student learning,not only at York, where he has pioneeredactive-learning techniques in lectures, butalso nationally and internationally. Over thepast 10 years he has engaged with more than30,000 A-level students, in highly interactivelectures. Furthermore, by developing aYouTube channel (ProfessorDaveatYork)he has engaged with a global audience– topics include the chemical properties ofcurry, champagne and antibiotics, backed bydetailed tutorial videos. He also encouragesour students to produce videos as part ofa new course teaching polymer chemistry.Under his guidance, students have tackledtopics as diverse as the use of polymers in skiequipment and the value of recycling plastic.Students say the videos help themreview lectures and are helpfulas revision aids and this wasreflected in improved tutorialand exam performance.Professor Smith
Dr CockettAwarded aVice Chancellor’sTeaching AwardDr Martin Cockett received this awardfor his highly reflective approach to theteaching of physical chemistry and theresulting excellent feedback from ourundergraduate students. The impactof his Mathsfor Chemiststextbooks bothwithin andoutside theUniversity was alsorecognised as washis contribution toleadership withinthe department.As a teacher ofphysical chemistry, Dr Cockett has toconvey some of the most challengingconcepts in our chemistry degree, and thefeedback he gets from students is quitesimply outstanding. In fact, one of ourundergraduates described him as the‘Lionel Messi of physical chemistryteaching’. In addition to his exceptionallecturing and teaching skills, Dr Cockettis co-author of a textbook that aimsto teach maths to chemists in acontextualised and integrated way, whichcan easily be understood by chemistswith a wide range of mathematicalbackgrounds. The Chair of the Boardof Studies, Professor David Smith said:Chemistry@York February 2014The Evolution of ourLatest New £10 MillionBuildingThe University has initiated a £29 million phasedredevelopment of the Department of Chemistry. As partof this investment, a new state-of-the-art facility housingboth undergraduate laboratories and research is closeto completion.On the ground floor, state-of-the-art teachinglaboratories will provide outstanding professionalstandardtraining facilities for the scientists oftomorrow. It houses an extensive wet laboratorywith 80 two-person fumehoods, a dedicated analysisroom containing modern instrumentation, an NMR lab,a computational area and a spacious social area.On the upper floor, the building will house ourGreen Chemistry Centre of Excellence, a worldleading research centre that aims to promote thedevelopment and implementation of green andsustainable chemistry and related technologiesinto new products and processes.Completion of the building is anticipatedaround Easter and there will be an officialopening in the autumn of 2014(see page 5).The department prides itselfon the impact its academic staffhave on our undergraduates– Dr Cockett's award is very well deservedand goes to show the ability of ourtalented staff to enthuse studentswith challenging subject matter.Chemistryglass blowergets highestmark everin final examAbby Storey, ourtrainee glass blower,passed her final glassblowing exam withdistinction. For her finalBSSG exam, the Chairman of the BritishSociety of Scientific glassblowers, andthe Chairman of the society’s board ofexaminers examined Abby. The examconsisted of an hour-long theory paper,in which Abby scored the highest marksever recorded at 97.5%, and also apractical examination – with the overallresult being a pass with distinction.Abby is now a fully qualified scientificglassblower.What do our students get up to?Last year, an outstanding 90% of our MChem students achieved a first or 2:1 class degree,and we are very proud of their academic achievements. However, university life is notall about hard work. We encourage our Chemistry students to get involved in clubs andsocieties (there are over 150 societies to cater for every taste). Here is just a small selectionof some of the things our students have done, alongside their studies:¬ Laura Kemp was a member of the York team on the TV programme University Challenge¬ Lewis Ratto was elected as the new Alcuin College Chair for 2014; Harriet Bilsbyis the Treasurer, James Burroughs the Vice-Chairperson for Entertainment andCommunication, and Freya Squires is the Environment and Ethics Officer¬ Alister Talbot, and Nick Moody (who graduated last year), were two of fourbrass banders who appeared on the TV programme Geeks¬ A large number of our Chemistry students also took part in Roses 2013, beingkey members of a victorious team!¬ Danielle Williams, an MChem Year 4 student who scooped a Gold Medal at theUK National Taekwondo Championships, said: I’m delighted with my haul of medalsand would like to thank the Chemistry Department for their continued support,allowing me to balance my chemistry workload alongside the rigours of training.www.york.ac.uk/Chemistry
‘Missing heat’ discovery promptsnew estimate of global warmingAn interdisciplinary team of researchers,including York Chemists, say they havefound ‘missing heat’ in the climate system,casting doubt on suggestions that globalwarming has slowed or stopped over thepast decade. Observational data on whichclimate records are based cover only 84%of the planet – with Polar regions andparts of Africa largely excluded. NowDr Kevin Cowtan, a computationalscientist at York, and Robert Way, acryosphere specialist and PhD student atEPSRC funding of £1 millionfor new research equipmentThe department has been awarded a grant of just over£1 million from the EPSRC for new instrumentation tosupport our wide-ranging research activities. The grantcovers the purchase of a number of state-of-the-artinstruments, including a 400 MHz solid state NMRspectrometer, which will be housed in our Centrefor Magnetic Resonance. A small angle X-raydiffractometer will also be provided for our materialsresearch group, who specialise in molecular materialbased upon liquid crystals. In addition, the grantallows an upgrade to current mass spectrometersto keep them at the forefront of research.Chemistry@York February 2014ResearchHighlightsA YouTube clip on recent temperature trends(http://tinyurl.com/pq9pclm) that was highlightedin the Guardian newspaperthe University of Ottawa, have reconstructed the ‘missing’ global temperatures using acombination of observations from satellites and surface data from weather stations andships on the peripheries of the unsampled regions.Professor Clark awarded a£723K EPSRC grantProfessor James Clark was awarded a majorEPSRC Grant entitled “Renewable Chemicalsfrom Sustainable Feedstocks via HighthroughputMethods”. The project (incollaboration with the University of Liverpooland The Stockholm Environment Institute atYork) aims to develop the next generation ofstructured polymeric materials that will enablethe efficient production of platform chemicalsand bio-surfactants from waste biomass.This project is built upon the expertise ingreen chemistry, biomass activation, catalysisand materials science from the partners in Yorkand Liverpool and their strong engagementwith industry. State-of-the-art facilities inhigh-throughput materials discovery andcharacterisation will be utilized, and advancedtechniques in biomass activation, andmicrowave pyrolysis and hydrolysis reactorsup to scales of 100 litres will be used.York chemists’ significant step forward in biofuels questOur researchers have discovered a family of enzymes that can degrade hard-to-digestbiomass into its constituent sugars. The new research was led by Professors PaulWalton and Gideon Davies at York and also involved Professor Bernie Henrissat,of CNRS, Aix-Marseille Université,Marseille, France. By studying thebiological origins and the detailedchemistry of the enzyme family,the researchers have shown thatNature has a wide range ofmethods of degrading biomasswhich humankind can nowharness in its own endeavourto produce sustainable biofuels.It opens up major new possibilitiesin the production of bioethanolfrom sustainable sources.Triumph in Green Gown AwardsOur Green Chemistry Centre of Excellenceemerged top in the research and developmentcategory of the annual Green Gown Awards,which recognise exceptional sustainabilityinitiatives in academic institutions. Judgespraised the scale of the Centre’s links withProfessor Walton regularly keeps audiences enthralled with hispopular ‘science of chocolate’ lecture – his Easter Open Daylecture at the National Science Learning Centre is on YouTube(http://tinyurl.com/qa3537m)Professor Clark plays a prominent role in advising Wella andthe company’s salon partners on steps – both big and small –that the salon industry can take to overcome obstacles,embrace new ideas and share their passion for sustainabilitywith their clients (http://tinyurl.com/nqh2vw9). The 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium cation (left)industry and their contribution to promotingresearch and development with businessesacross the Yorkshire and Humber region,nationally and internationally.Dr Avtar Matharu noted: This awardrecognises our hard-fought effortsover ten years in developing,maintaining and enhancing the highquality provision of green and sustainablechemistry. We are aiming to enable astrategic step change to a knowledgebased,low carbon, biorenewable economy.PhD student Andri Constandinou talks about her researchtowards a greener pharmaceutical industry on YouTube(http://tinyurl.com/oowbefk)York insulin chemists inanniversary breakthroughChemists in our York Structural BiologyLaboratory (YSBL) are part of an internationalteam that has established the first threedimensionalinsight into the complex way theinsulin hormone binds to its receptor on cellsurfaces. The study is published in the journalNature, 90 years after the discovery of insulinand 43 years after the determination of thecrystal structure of the hormone by Dorothy C.Hodgkin. The research presents four structuresof insulins with different constructs of insulinreceptor. These structures show the keyelements of insulin / insulin-receptorengagement, demonstrating that insulinundergoes a conformational switch in thisprocess, and that key elements of the receptoralso remodels. Extensive biochemical evidencesunderpin the structural work.Joint EPSRC and NSFfunded project toexplore the surfacestructure of ionic liquidsand tetrafluoroborate anion (right) form one ofthe more common room-temperature ionic liquids(often abbreviated [EMIM][BF 4 ]).Professor Duncan Bruce and Dr JohnSlattery are part of a successful bid tothe NSF/EPSRC scheme for internationalcollaborations in chemistry betweenUK and US investigators. Approximately£900k was awarded by the EPSRC andNSF to the three-year project “Ionic-Liquid Surface Structure: InformingApplications through DynamicalMeasurements”, to fund a largecollaborative network involving York,Heriot-Watt University, Montana StateUniversity and Northwestern University,USA. The overall aim of the networkis to enhance the fundamentalunderstanding of ionic-liquid (IL)surface structure and to relate this newinsight to some key applications of ILsin catalysis and liquid crystal chemistry.
FestiveChemistreehttps://twitter.com/ChemistryWorld/status/413350788296351744/photo/1Our Chemistrees, designed by our teachinglab technical team, have caused quitea stir on Twitter. A photo of one ofour chemistrees was tweeted by@ChemistryWorld, who subsequentlylaunched a competition for the bestchemistree – congratulations to Emma,from our technical team, who wonagainst stiff competition.RSC Meet the UniLast July, the Department once againcontributed to the annual Meetthe Universities events in London andLeeds. These events, organised by the RSC,are designed to be informal, offeringpotential students (and often their parentstoo) the opportunity to question universityrepresentatives at length about their coursesand what they offer to students. It is notdesigned to replace the need for a visit to auniversity’s own open day, but it can helpstudents to narrow down their options inadvance. This year, once again, the RSC willbe hosting 2 events, on Saturday 28 June2014 at the Chemistry Centre, centralLondon, and Saturday 12 July 2014 atthe University of Leeds. We look forwardto speaking with students about ourChemistry degree courses.Chemistry Admissions Feb 2014Come andvisit usOur visit days offer an excellent opportunityto find out about the University of York.Most importantly, you’ll be able to get a‘feel’ for the University, which will help youdecide whether or not York is somewhereyou’d like to spend your university years.2014 Pre-applicationVisit DaysOver the summer we willbe holding a series ofDepartmental OpenAfternoons for prospectivechemistry students.Each visit day will involve a free lunch for allguests, a tour of the department’s teachingand laboratory facilities, a campus tour, anopportunity to chat informally to membersof staff, as well as opportunities to meet ourcurrent students and talk to them aboutwhat it is like to live and study at York.Well constructed, well ordered,paints a very nice picture of York,and the student ambassadorswere knowledgeable and helpful.Hats off to you all!Visit Day quote, August 2013Further details including how to book aplace can be found on the York website:www.york.ac.uk/chemistry/undergraduate/visitdays/2014 University Open DaysThe University will be holdingOpen Days in July andSeptember 2014.For further detailsincluding booking:www.york.ac.uk/admin/uao/openday/We have organised a number of talks in theChemistry Department during the day andyou will also have the opportunity to havea tour of our teaching and researchlaboratories. Members of the admissionsteam and current undergraduate Chemistrystudents will also be on hand.Our Open Days in 2013 were extremely wellattended and we received some excellentfeedback from visiting students and theirparents.Useful Links:Student Financewww.york.ac.uk/students/housing-andmoney/financial-support/www.direct.gov.uk/en/EducationAndLearning/UniversityAndHigherEducation/StudentFinance/The University’s Student FinancialSupport Unit will be able to helpwith any student financial queriesthat you may have.Student Societieswww.yusu.orgYork University Students’ Union (YUSU)offers an array of societies coveringa huge range of activites ranging fromthe Juggling Society to award-winningmedia societies.Student Sports Clubswww.yusu.org/auEnjoy more than 60 different sports clubs.University Librarywww.york.ac.uk/library/libraryrefurbishment/The Library has recently beentransformed with a £20 millioninvestment and is open 24 hours a day,7 days a week, 362 days a year.Chemistry Reviewwww.york.ac.uk/chemistry/schools/chemrev/Chemistry Review, a magazine forpost-16 chemists is commissionedand edited at York.Departmental video linkswww.youtube.com/watch?v=5EAdLXnmQqA... for a short clip that highlights6 key reasons to pick Chemistry@York.www.skepticalscience.com/16_more_years_of_global_warming.html... for Dr Kevin Cowtan’s videoon how natural and human factorshave affected short-term temperaturetrends and the human-causedglobal warming trend.Find out about the latest news in thedepartment using twitter:http://twitter.com/chemistryatyorkAdmissions Enquiriesplease contact:Telephone:+44 (0) 1904 322545Email:email@example.comWebsite:www.york.ac.uk/chemistry