The YPWLC is an extension of the Young Persons' Lecture Competition (YPLC) and is organised by the IOM3 Student & Early Career Committee.
The winners of the finals, held in countries and regions where IOM3 has international branches or sister institutions, compete in the world final, which every year is held in a different location around the world. The first YPWLC was held in London in 2005, and since then has travelled to different locations in four continents.
The YPWLC finalists normally gather in the city where the final is to be held ahead of time, to have the opportunity to get to know each other and exchange experiences. They also have a programme of technical, cultural and social visits based around the competition, so that they get to know something of the country they are visiting and experience its culture and industry. For most finalists, it is the experience of a lifetime!
YPWLC finalists 2022
Lauren is a second year PhD student in the Materials Science and Engineering Department at The University of Sheffield. She developed a passion for research during her Masters in Materials Science and Engineering, which specialised in biomaterials. During this time, she undertook a year in industry at Philips Research UK, working in oral healthcare on whitening and hypersensitivity. Upon returning, she channelled her love for research and nature into her master’s project on snail and slug locomotion in the Natural Materials Group, and has never looked back. Her EPSRC funded PhD focuses on understanding and bridging the gap between structure and function in snail and slug mucus.
Within the department and faculty, she is an active member of the postgraduate research community: supporting fellow students as part of the postgraduate research committee, helping teach undergraduates, and sharing research stories over arts and crafts lunches. Outside of the lab, she is a keen communicator and advocate for inclusion and diversity in STEM subjects, volunteering for outreach programmes and school events at both the local and national level. Through her work with the Bioladies Network and Natural Materials Association, she hopes to inspire people across all ages and backgrounds to discover the scientific wonders found in nature.
In her free time, Lauren enjoys exploring the Peak District, medieval re-enactment and has recently taken up ice skating. Though she can often be found at home curled up with a good book and her two cats.
A sticky situation: The contradictory material properties of snail mucus
Nature has evolved a vast range of 'smart' materials and is currently an untapped resource for novel biomedical and engineering applications. A surprising example is snail mucus. Embodying two contradictory properties, adhesion and lubrication, this material can switch seamlessly between them whenever the functional need arises. But how does it do this and can we replicate it?
In the search to understand these unusual flow properties, our creation of a snail locomotion translation device demonstrates how a more holistic approach to analysing natural materials can reveal more about their true nature. Discovering that like many industrial materials, snail mucus crystallises, but controlling this is via an elegant means of changing its salt concentration. Showing that we can find inspiration for tomorrow's advanced materials everywhere, even at the bottom of our garden.
Shane de Beer
Shane de Beer
Shane is an aspiring academic in the field of theoretical and computational chemistry. He is currently in his second year of PhD at Stellenbosch University after completing his BSc and MSc studies at the University of Pretoria. His research interests include investigating the quantum mechanical nature of materials and using this insight as a basis for developing novel materials, especially catalysts. During his previous studies, he explored chemical bonding in molecules using atomistic theoretical techniques and is now seeking to understand bonding in solid-state materials on a similar basis, as well as supplementing theoretical insights with experimental results from spectroscopy and x-ray diffraction. During his PhD, he is developing theoretical models on adsorption and photocatalysis in the solid-state to capture and convert unwanted products into more useful reagents. Shane has presented his work at ISXB4, ePCCr, AfPS-2021 and the 15th CHPC National Conference. He also published the first step in his journey in the Journal of Computational Chemistry. In future, he aspires to develop theories and techniques to further investigate the quantum behaviours of materials.
When Shane is not working, he can be found in the world of a thriller novel or enjoying the company of his two dachshunds. Otherwise, he is trying his hand at a new recipe or a new language.
Overcoming limitations on computational adsorption modelling for flexible materials
Experiments to determine sorption isotherms can take up to weeks to complete whereas computational modelling of sorption isotherms only takes a few hours. The software available limits the adsorbing materials to rigid structures, whereas modern research has shown that many materials of interest undergo structural changes upon guest adsorption.
There are many applications in gas separation, gas storage and catalysis that can utilize this flexibility. However, modelling the isotherm of a flexible material as a rigid structure can lead to inaccurate isotherm models. Here a stepped method is developed to model the isotherms of flexible materials accurately, utilizing the Materials Studio sorption module as well as the CASTEP software. The predicted isotherm for CO2 adsorption onto the MOF-508 material is then tested against the experimental isotherm to validate the proposed method. This, furthermore, gave fundamental insights into the mechanism for the adsorption of CO2 onto MOF-508.
Kate is a PhD candidate in the Department of Chemistry at Simon Fraser University, supervised by Dr Steven Holdcroft. After completing her Bachelor’s and Master’s in Chemistry at Lancaster University in the UK, she moved to Vancouver, Canada to pursue her PhD. Her research field works to develop and improve devices to make hydrogen a viable replacement for fossil fuels. Kate’s research interests within this field lies in the design, synthesis, and characterisation of novel polymer electrolytes and binders for integration into alkaline electrolyzers and fuel cells. The main focus of Kate’s PhD is to develop a highly conductive polymer that can withstand the highly caustic, high temperature environments of the alkaline devices.
Within the Department Kate is an active member of the Chemistry Graduate Student Caucus and works to support and connect the students through weekly social events. Outside of the department Kate is part of the Electrochemical Society Student Chapter and has organised virtual and in-person symposiums which included speakers and attendees from various places in North America.
In her personal life, Kate is often found road biking around the Vancouver Lower Mainland and the various islands. And when the winter comes, Kate likes to ski at the nearby mountains.
Plastics for renewable energy devices
Plastics, also known as polymers, are long molecular chains that interweave with themselves to form complex structures like that of felted wool. These materials have proved to be essential in achieving a net-zero carbon economy through their usage in energy storage and conversion devices.
Hydrogen has the ability to store a large amount of energy, much like gasoline. However, unlike fossil fuels which release greenhouse gases, hydrogen only produces water when combusted. An Electrolyser uses excess renewable energy to create hydrogen fuel which stores energy. Fuel Cells then use hydrogen to generate energy and power transportation devices. Specific polymers have been developed to replace caustic liquids within the devices, creating systems that are safer, more compact, and more efficient. However, strongly basic solutions destroy the polymer structure resulting in material degradation and device failure. Here, polymers have been developed to withstand such conditions whilst maintaining high device efficiencies.
Tianyi is now a Master's student in the state key laboratory of polymer material engineering in Sichuan University, supervised by Prof Zhongming Li. His research is focused on the advanced polymer processing technology by machine learning. Prior to this, he obtained his Bachelor's degree in Engineering in polymer material science and engineering with first class from Queen Mary University of London and Northwestern Polytechnical University under the supervision of Dr Han Zhang and Prof Yanhui Chen. His dissertation investigated the aerogel which can be used as EMI shielding material.
Tianyi is also an active member in the field of swimming.He has been taking professional training from 10 years old and became champion in the provincial college students' competition in 2019. He now works as the referee in swimming competitions.
MXene/[email protected] aerogel with excellent EMI shielding performance
With the requirement to fabricate polymer aerogel that can be able to use in high EMI shielding, lightweight and heat resistance application, MXene/[email protected] aerogel composite have been fabricated in a facile method combined dip-coating and direct foaming process to ensure the structural integrity and MXene adsorption, with an average shielding effectiveness of 25.37 dB and absorption coefficient (A) of 75% successfully achieved by 6.14 wt% rGO filling and 12.33 wt% MXene filling. The structure was strengthened by chemical and physical interaction between filler and matrix, and inner conductive network improved the thermal conductivity to enable better heat resistance. The fabricated aerogel offers potential uses in next-generation communication technology, miniaturised portable electronic devices and aeronautics and astronautics.
Danning is a PhD candidate in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, supervised by Dr Leng Zhen. His research interests focus on sustainable pavement materials and technologies, especially the rubberized asphalt material. His PhD dissertation topic is “Multiscale Investigation on the Aging and Recycling Mechanisms of Asphalt Rubber Pavement”. With a good command of rheological, mechanical, and chemical analysis methods, he aims to interpret the intricate aging mechanism of asphalt rubber binder and develop customized rejuvenation methods for reclaimed asphalt rubber pavement to further promote the application of asphalt rubber pavement and disposal of waste tire rubber. Danning has presented his work at Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, International Association of Chinese Infrastructure Professionals Conference, and International Transportation PhD Student Symposium. His works have been published in journals including the Journal of Cleaner Production, Materials & Design, and Resources, Conservation & Recycling.
In daily life, Danning has always been praised as versatile thanks to his proficient skills at playing the piano and basketball. His passion for these two hobbies is the power source of his life and always fuels his pursuit of research.
Investigation on the aging mechanism of asphalt rubber binder prepared with waste tire rubber
Asphalt Rubber (AR) is a sustainable paving material composed of bitumen and crumb waste tire rubber. AR presents enhanced pavement rutting and cracking resistance, and considerable environmental benefits including reduced tire-road noise and waste tire disposal. However, the aging mechanism of AR binder remains unclear due to the intricate rubber-bitumen interaction, which complicates the recyclability of reclaimed AR pavement (RARP).
Aiming at a deeper understanding on the aging mechanism, this presentation investigates the compositional and mechanical evolution of AR binder through experimental methods and micromechanical modelling. As a multiphase material, AR binders at different aging conditions were phase-separated to reveal the structural change during aging. Chemical tests were conducted to observe the rubber absorption behaviours during aging. Rheological tests and micromechanical evolution of AR binder and its components. The findings can provide theoretical support for the recycling and rejuvenation design of RARP.
Rathosivan graduated in Bachelor of Engineering (Bio-Medical) from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) with first class distinction in the year 2019. He was then offered to pursue fast-track doctorate programme in School of Biomedical Engineering and Health Sciences and managed to secure financial aid from student excellence program by Malaysia public service department (PPC-JPA) to further his studies. His research focuses on utilisation of biomaterials especially polymers and hydrogels as an implant material and has skilled in operating several high-end analysis instruments as well as performing in-vitro analyses. He is currently completing his six months training attachment at Laval University, Canada funded by the Canadian government. Ratho has presented his preliminary research work in Quebec, Canada at the QCAM student symposium 2022 and virtually at Japan in the 8th ICCME 2021 conference in the field of biomaterials, polymer and mechanics. Recently, he won the 3 Minute Thesis competition in UTM and represented the university to the national level. He also has been the organising committee for 8th and 9th IGCESH (2020, 2022) conference and gained valuable experiences in managing hybrid big-scaled events.
Apart from academic relations, Ratho has led several student associations during his doctorate study such as postgraduate student society (PGSS 2019/2020) and residential college student committee (JKM 2020/2021). Together with his team members, Ratho has organised variety of programs to engage students actively participate in activities outside their academic field and cope with the pandemic while excelling in their studies and research. As a graduate engineer and a researcher, he is keen in giving back to the community to raise awareness and help young students and kids to engage in STEM programs. He enjoys participating in charity programs and always willing to lend a helping hand to develop the community.
Immobilisation of factor VII through polydopamine grafting of polycaprolactone membrane for cardiac bleeding
The repair of cardiac bleeding is one of the processes in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases. Nevertheless, postoperative bleeding is still an issue following the implementation which derange the resources and cost. Oral administration of blood coagulation protein called Factor VII (FVII) has been effective to stop the bleeding. However, the short half-life may loss its effectiveness and frequent intake may distress the patient. Alternatively, synthetic polymers such as polycaprolactone (PCL) is used in drug delivery and wound dressing applications due to its favorable properties. Therefore, this study immobilises FVII on PCL membrane through polydopamine grafting using dropcasting technique to seal the bleeding at its maximum region and accelerate blood coagulation. The PCL membrane was used to graft a thin polydopamine film as the intermediate layer to enhance the surface compatibility and provide a platform for immobilisation of Factor VII afterwards.
The physio-chemical properties of the thin PCL membranes were characterized using several analyses. While the cytocompatibility of the membranes was evaluated with fibroblast and blood cells. Initial characterisation studies showed the success of FVII immobilisation through polydopamine grafting and the presence of FVIImolecules on the PCL membrane with enhanced surface roughness and hydrophilicity. While the biocompatibility tests showed increased cell viability and coagulation and the lowest haemolysis ratio on FVII immobilised PCL membrane. This validates the biocompatibility of the membrane and its ability to accelerate blood coagulation and potential application as cardiac bleeding sealant. Future works will focus on the mechanical strength and incorporation of adhesive component to the membrane.