The 2015 Wesley Cocker Award Goes to…Alice Blumlein

7 Oct 2015

The Wesley Cocker Award aims to recognise a young scientist – PhD student or undergraduate – in Ireland who has made a major contribution in some aspect of chemistry relevant to Irish industry. The award is named after Professor Cocker (1908-2007) who was instrumental in establishing the Irish Section of SCI in 1947 (now the All Ireland Group).

The winner of the 2015 Wesley Cocker Award is Alice Blumlein, a PhD student from Maynooth University, in County Kildare, Ireland. Her winning paper on bigels saw her receive a €500 cash prize and a year’s student membership to SCI, paid for by the All Ireland Group. Alice will formally be presented with her award at an All Ireland Group event later this year. The prize money will be used to assist with her general living expenses whilst she completes her PhD.

We recently caught up with Alice and she explained more about her paper which led her to be chosen as this year’s winner. ‘A bigel is composed of two discrete interpenetrating networks with both networks contributing to the mechanical properties of the bigel.  The paper describes, for the first time, an all protein bigel with properties of both parent gels. This hydrogel may have application including drug delivery and cell scaffolds or as a biomimetic.’

The paper’s publication is Alice’s proudest academic achievement to date and has led to her current research, investigating the elastic modulus of single cell clusters, known as spheroids. 

Alice, who was inspired to pursue a career in science from one of her primary school teachers, is hoping to continue as a researcher with the aim of finding a post-doctoral position. However, this may prove difficult as Alice explains that her research is challenged due to the lack of funding for the basic studies upon which innovation depends.’

We wish Alice every success in her future endeavors, her studies and in finding that all-important post-doctoral position.

We will be calling for nominations for the 2016 Wesley Cocker Award in the New Year, so check the SCI website for updates or email

SCI All Ireland Group

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