Messel Travel Bursary recipient, Alexander Cook, reports from Lorne, Australia

11 January 2017

11 Jan 2017

Alexander Cook was awarded a Messel Travel Bursary in 2016 to attend the 36th Australasian Polymer Symposium. Below, he tells us how presenting his work at the conference has helped with future project ideas.

‘I am a 3rd year PhD student in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Warwick, investigating advanced polymer synthesis methods and architectures in the group of Professor Sebastien Perrier. The 36th Australasian Polymer Symposium, held from 20-23 November in the beachside town of Lorne (near Melbourne), was attended by approximately 250 academics, researchers, students and industrial professionals from around the world, including many current world-leaders in polymer research. The APS is a yearly event organised by the polymer group of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute, and it has gained an international reputation for showcasing world-class polymer science in a very friendly and relaxed environment.

The symposium is unique in the way it makes top international scientists accessible to early career researchers, as well as providing an optimal surrounding for networking with fellow conference attendees. At the 36th APS, I had the opportunity to meet the plenary speakers, including Takuzo Aida, Heather Maynard, and Frank Caruso. Takuzo Aida gave an excellent talk on Stimuli-responsive smart soft-materials; some absolutely fantastic science, and so well presented.

In addition, attending this conference enabled me to present my work in front of the best scientists in my field, which is vital for my future progression in academia or the chemical industry. My talk, Hyperbranched polymers by thiol-yne chemistry: Control of molecular weight and branch point distribution, was well received with a number of conversations producing some good ideas for future projects. The social program for the conference was excellent, with the final dinner being themed ‘Surf’s Up!’ Attending a conference based in Australia also meant I was able to take some time off after the conference to do some travelling and sightseeing and make the most of the sunny weather.

I would like to thank SCI for the generous and flexible funding under the Messel Travel Bursary which made this trip possible. It has been an excellent training opportunity, allowing me to establish contacts with international researchers, develop my presentation skills, and learn to gather useful information at conferences. I would also like to thank my colleagues and other funders for contributing to the success of this project.

Alexander Cook
PhD Student
University of Warwick

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