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Fellows returning to Chemistry

Dr Batool Ahmed-Omer

I am currently a Daphne Jackson Fellow at the University of Cambridge, supervised by Professor Steven V. Ley CBE FRS at the Chemistry Department.

Prior to my career break, I joined Eli Lilly UK as an industrial postdoc, where I worked on validating enabling technologies and developing key applications for the preparation of pharmaceuticals in an efficient and greener way.

At the end of my postdoctoral programme, I had two daughters and decided to take a career break for 4 years to focus on the early years of childcare. My ambition is to continue growing my career in innovation research. The Daphne Jackson Trust has not only helped me greatly through the difficulties of returning to my field of research, but also encouraged great training programmes, provided continuous support and advice, all of which have enhanced my confidence to pursue my career in science.

Host & Sponsor: University of Cambridge

Dr Charlotte Bonneau

Charlotte Bonneau is a structural chemist, expert in the recognition of mathematical patterns in materials. Prior to a career break of four years, she worked for the Japan Science and Technology Agency in Kyoto, developing porous materials for energy and gas storage applications. Her Fellowship at Kingston University London is co-sponsored by the Royal Society of Chemistry. It has taken her to the area of soft matter, particularly the study of the biochemistry and structure of the proteins of the eye lens. The fellowship gives her the opportunity to become skilled in all areas of proteomics, strengthening her cross-disciplinary profile. This serves her long term research interests in the elucidation of structure of materials combining chemistry, biology and mathematics.

Host: Kingston University, London
Sponsors: Kingston University & Royal Society of Chemistry

Dr Anita Dawes

After completing my PhD at UCL in 2003, I worked as a postdoc at The Open University in the field of astrochemistry, applying laboratory molecular physics, physical chemistry and radiation physics to the study of interstellar and planetary ices. I left research in 2006 to become a mother of three children. Though returning to research seemed daunting and impossible after a seven year break, I was thrilled to be back in the lab thanks to being awarded a Daphne Jackson Fellowship at the OU in July 2013. I have since been working part time, continuing research in laboratory astrochemistry whilst rebuilding my confidence as a researcher and updating and learning new skills. The highlight of my Fellowship was leading a team on experimental runs at the ASTRID2 Synchrotron Facility in Denmark, with the aim of using vacuum ultraviolet spectroscopy to study the physical and chemical properties of ices in star forming regions.

Host: The Open University
Sponsors: The Open University & STFC

Dr Nicola Farrer

Following degrees from the University of Cambridge I undertook postdoctoral research at the University of Warwick. I then took a three-year break to have two sons before restarting my career with a Daphne Jackson Fellowship in the Chemical Research Laboratory of the University of Oxford in October 2014. My aim is to use physical methods to achieve controlled delivery of novel metal drugs (more detail here http://research.chem.ox.ac.uk/nicola-farrer.aspx.)

The application and interview process for the Daphne Jackson Fellowship is much more flexible and constructive than for traditional fellowships. The training course in media skills has aided me when I’ve been approached by journalists to provide comment on published papers in my field. In conjunction with the supportive environment in Oxford, the Fellowship has given me chance to re-establish myself, obtain exciting new results in a worthwhile field of research, and hopefully attract subsequent funding.

Host: University of Oxford
Sponsors; Royal Society of Chemistry & MRC

Dr Hanadi Hassan-Nixon

I was a Research Associate at Imperial College working in the field of diagnostics with a strong emphasis on designing non-invasive devices for diabetic people. After my postdoctorate, I had a 12 year career break to raise my young family during which I did part-time Licence Management and Intellectual Property administrative work at Imperial Innovations. During this time I became a member of the governing body at my children’s school and did freelance maths tutoring for GCSE and A-level students.

My Daphne Jackson Fellowship research is to design and develop a diagnostic device to allow point of care treatment for asthma and hay fever. It will also be possible to modify the device for other respiratory diseases. During the Fellowship I am improving my immunoassay and binding skills and broadening my knowledge in electrochemical techniques.

Host: Imperial College, London
Sponsors: Imperial College & EPSRC

Dr Elena Lestini

Elena graduated in Industrial Chemistry in 2001 from the University of Pisa (Italy). She then attended University College Dublin (UCD), where she was awarded a PhD in Supramolecular Chemistry (2008). Elena worked as a PDRA in Prof. Keyes’ group at Dublin City University in the field of luminescent biosensors and then joined Dr. Zerulla’s group (UCD) and worked on plasmonic nanoparticles. Elena moved from Ireland in 2011 and took a three-year career break to look after her son. She is now back to research thanks to a Daphne Jackson Fellowship, jointly sponsored by the University of Warwick and the Royal Society of Chemistry; she works under the supervision of Prof. Rachel K. O’Reilly at the University of Warwick on the development of new eco-friendly Palladium(II/IV) nanoreactors for asymmetry synthesis in water. The Fellowship allows Elena to work half-time due to her family commitments, whilst being retrained in cutting-edge research techniques.

Host: University of Warwick
Sponsors: University of Warwick and Royal Society of Chemistry

Dr Li Liu

After receiving my PhD in Physical Chemistry I moved to the UK due to my husband’s work and made the choice to remain at home to look after my daughter. Returning to academia after a 5 year break was a challenge. The Daphne Jackson Fellowship provides a retraining programme which is helping to update and expand my knowledge. The flexible working hours it offers greatly help my childcare arrangements.
The aim of my fellowship project is to examine breath contents of pancreatic cancer patients using Proton transfer reaction mass spectrometry (PTR-MS) techniques, and compare them to those of healthy controls, in order to discover possible volatile organic compound (VOC) biomarkers for early and quick non-invasive diagnostics. I also participate in several studies examining headspace gases of bacteria such as Mycobacterium bovis BCG and Clostridium difficile, for VOC profiling to elucidate possible metabolic pathways under different growing conditions.

Host: University of Leicester
Sponsors: University of Leicester & Royal Society of Chemistry

Dr Jharna Paul

After finishing my PhD in Measurement and Instrumentation Engineering at City University London and a period of research modelling optical metamaterials at University of Glasgow (UoG), I worked for a year as a physics teacher. I then took a four year career break to bring up my two children. The Fellowship has provided me with a unique opportunity to return to work and develop my career in scientific and engineering research.

With support from the Trust and my supervisor at UoG, I developed a project on plasmonic nanoantennas for the detection of proteins in water. Proteins are vital for cell function and their detection is important to understand biomaterial behaviour, and early diagnosis and cure of disease. I am learning new modelling and fabrication tools using the advanced facilities at the James Watt Nanofabrication Centre in UoG. I am looking forward to continuing my research in the Advanced Optical Sensing Applications.

Host & Sponsor: University of Glasgow

Dr Sianne Schwikkard

After completing a PhD in organic chemistry, specializing in natural products, at the University of Kwazulu-Natal in 1997, I went onto 3 post-doctoral positions in addition to an 18-month period in the petrochemical industry.  I took a 10-year career break for my children, during which I worked as an hourly paid lecturer at Kingston University.  The Daphne Jackson Fellowship has allowed me to return to natural products chemistry, at the University of Surrey.  My research is focused on a class of natural products known as homoisoflavonoids.  They have a wide range of biological activities including anti-inflammatory properties and anti-angiogenesis activity.  Compounds inhibiting angiogenesis can be used to treat macular degeneration and some forms of cancer.  I have appreciated the opportunity to update my skills and to establish fresh collaborations with fellow researchers in my field.  The Daphne Jackson training courses have been especially helpful and a wonderful opportunity to meet other Fellows.

Host: University of Surrey
Sponsor: Royal Society of Chemistry