Department of Chemistry @ UCL


Department of Chemistry,
University College London,
T: +44 (0)20 7679 4623

Location of Department of Chemistry, UCL

Session 139 Autumn Schedule

Please note: talk timings and locations have (slightly) changed this term.  Talks will take place in the Chemistry Auditorium (except where noted separately) and will start at 6.15.  Pre- and post-talk receptions will be in the Nyholm Room as usual, but will start at 5.45 and 7.15 respectively.

REMIX: Synthetic biology versus hip hop

Dr Adam Rutherford, Editor at Nature, Journalist and TV Broadcaster

Tuesday 30 September 2014

The birth of hip hop and genetic engineering happened within two months of each other in 1973, and both have enjoyed and suffered remarkably similar trajectories ever since: imagination, invention, controversy, remix, legal trolling, big business, and underground rebirth. This is the story of two of the most creative and lucrative endeavours in science and music.

Tuesday 7 October 2014

Unfortunately, Dr Ron Lancaster (who was going to talk about fireworks) has had to pull out of this lecture slot.  We're trying to find a replacement so please keep checking here for updates.

Studying and Caring for Old Master Paintings 

A behind the scenes look at some of the work of the National Gallery Scientific Department

Joseph Padfield, National Gallery

Tuesday 14 October 2014

This talk will explain the work of the National Gallery Scientific Department; from examining the materials found in paintings to considering the safety and quality of the lights we use to illuminate them.

You will discover how ‘behind-the-scenes’ scientific work is used to provide the most accurate information possible about these magnificent paintings and how this is used to inform decisions about their care and display, ensuring that generations to come will enjoy them.

Please note: This talk will take place in Archaeology G6.  The Archaeology department is literally just around the corner from the Chemistry department, as you can see from this map.  The pre- and post-talk receptions will take place in the Nyholm Room as normal.

Careers event

Various Guests

Tuesday 21 October 2014

The careers evening is back!  Each speaker will give a brief talk, followed by a general question and answer session at the end.

• Julie Franklin - Royal Society of Chemistry

• Misbah Sarwar - Johnson Matthey

• Mike Barker - GlaxoSmithKline

• Elizabeth Payne-Johnson - ITM Power

• Dr Chris Jones - Edwards

The Science of Magic: Why Magic Works

Dr Gustav Kuhn, Goldsmiths University

Tuesday 28 October 2014

Magic is one of the oldest art forms, and for centuries conjurors have created illusions of the impossible by distorting your perception and thoughts.  Advances in Psychology and Neuroscience offer new insights into why our minds are so easily deceived and this talk will explore some of the principles used by magicians to distort your perception.

Dr Gustav Kuhn worked as a professional magician and it was his interest in deception and illusions that sparked a curiosity about the human mind - he is now a senior lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London, and one of the leading researchers in the science of magic.

Energy and matter at the origin of life

Dr Nick Lane, University College London

Tuesday 4 November 2014

All living cells are chemiosmotic, meaning that they conserve energy and often drive carbon fixation using proton gradients across membranes. The mechanisms of proton pumping and energy conservation are understood at nearly atomic resolution, but almost nothing is known about the origin and evolution of chemiosmotic coupling.

This talk will show how natural proton gradients in alkaline hydrothermal vents could have driven carbon fixation and energy conservation under abiotic conditions and protocellular conditions, and later, how the requirement to generate proton gradients could have driven the deep divergence between bacteria and archaea.

Arsenic in Water: A Global Problem

Prof Neil Ward, Surrey Univeristy

Tuesday 11 November 2014

In recent years the World Health Organisation has considered arsenic to be one of the global chemicals of concern in drinking water supplies.  Human exposure to arsenic can occur through a variety of pathways, including air, water, soil and food.

Arsenic exposure through food poses a substantial risk to humans in certain parts of the world, particularly in Asia from the consumption of staple foods such as rice and vegetables, which have been irrigated with As-rich groundwater.  Shallow groundwater aquifers in the Chaco-Pampean Plain of Argentina have high concentrations of total arsenic and other trace elements causing water-quality problems in aquifers from the provinces of Cordoba, Santa Fe and Buenos Aires, as well as La Pampa.

This talk will provide a new insight into the problems of arsenic in the environment in Argentina.

Robert Angus Smith, Acid Rain and the ‘Monster Nuisance of All’

Peter Reed, Independent Researcher

Tuesday 18 November 2014

In 1859 Robert Angus Smith (1817–1884) became the first person to use the term acid rain. Soon after, in 1864 Angus Smith was appointed the first Inspector of the Alkali Inspectorate, established to control pollution from industrial chemical processes, including ‘acid gas’ or the ‘monster nuisance of all’ as Lyon Playfair called it, from the Leblanc alkali process. Later, pollutants from other processes were regulated so that by 1956 the Inspectorate was responsible for 1,794 processes in England and Wales and 116 processes in Scotland. Many of the principles laid down by the Inspectorate under Angus Smith remain to the present day. 2014 marks the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the Inspectorate and it now operates as HM Inspectorate of Pollution as part of the Environment Agency.

The talk will review Robert Angus Smith’s role as a civil scientist and the circumstances of these reforming events.

The Chemistry of Respiratory Medicines

Stephen Swanson, R&D Manager at GlaxoSmithKlein 

Tuesday 25 November 2014

This talk will focus on medicines currently used for the treatment of respiratory diseases highlighting several areas of drug discovery where organic chemists make key contributions.  The relationship between chemical structure and the associated pharmacology of drug molecules across a range of biological target classes will be illustrated as will the importance of optimising physicochemical properties for the development of novel medicines.

Tissue Regenerating Plastics from Bugs

Ipsita Roy, University of Westminster

Tuesday 2 December 2014

Bacteria can be used for the production of a family of polymers called PHAs, which are both biodegradable and biocompatible. PHAs have a range of mechanical properties and degradation rates and hence can be used to mimic a variety of different tissue types. The talk will describe the production of a range of PHAs and their use in bone, nerve, cartilage and cardiac tissue regeneration. In addition, the use of PHAs for controlled and targeted drug delivery will be described.