BMSS41 – Student Conference Report

Claire Vassallo, Current Masters Student at York University, specialising in Green Chemistry:

After spending a year working between finishing my undergraduate degree and starting the postgraduate course, I was very grateful to attend the BMSS annual conference held at Sheffield Hallam University. I enjoyed seeing the work being presented by my fellow undergraduate students. The research they undertook, especially with the restrictions of COVID, was incredibly interesting. It was the first chemistry related conference I had attended, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

One of the flash presentations conducted was on a neuromuscular drug my mum’s team worked with in the NHS. Telling her and the specialist registrar about it when I met up with them that evening was quite exciting! The conferences I went to on Thursday were on mass spectroscopy imaging, separation science, diagnostics and therapeutics. Undertaking a course in environmental chemistry and seeing talks from Waters and LECO were particularly fulfilling. I gained an insight into applications of analytical chemistry in both research and industrial environments. The other talks I went to involved tissue samples, proteomics and drug interactions. Seeing how mass spectrometry is used to detect tumours, drug metabolites and much more was fascinating.

The conference has helped apply the theory I learnt in my final-year advanced analytical science module to the real world. My M.Sc. project will be using chromatographic components to detect fatty acids, such as palmitic acid, from coffee extracts to replace palm oil. I just want to say a huge thank you to ChromSoc for funding my internship and giving me the opportunity to attend the conference. The experience has given me the confidence to apply the theoretical knowledge from my undergraduate course. I will be taking what I have learnt on my postgraduate course and applying it into real-life situations and my postgraduate course.

Libby Allcock, 1st Year PhD Student at Durham University, specialising in Soft Matter Chemistry

As a postgraduate student about to begin her PhD, I was very grateful to ChromSoc for providing the opportunity to practice my presentation skills and be able to present my work to a conference audience. Although nervous – due to the standard of presentations I had watched on the first day of the BMSS conference; I was excited to showcase the effort I had put into obtaining my results despite the difficulties of remote computational calculations. My five minute flash presentation on the ‘Application of in-silico chromatography to identify Bacteriohopanepolyol Diastereomers’ went by very quickly and I enjoyed the chance to answer the insightful question I received of how I would apply my theoretical research to a laboratory setting.

As my talk was in the morning of the second day, I was then able to interact with various scientists over lunch. I was proud to receive a compliment from the chair of my flash poster session on my public speaking abilities and research as a whole. This really helped me with my confidence. Presenting and attending BMSS41 made me feel like I was a very capable chemist! I was a lot less daunted to start my PhD than before the conference.

Finally, for the rest of the afternoon I was able to watch more presentations and gain a much deeper insight into the range of applications and theoretical studies mass spectrometry can be applied to. Once again, I am extremely grateful for the opportunities presented to me by Chromsoc and the experience I had presenting at BMSS41. I gained skills I will continue to utilize throughout my academic career.