Richardson Travel Bursary winner, Jessica McGlynn, reports from Dallas

11 June 2019

Jessica McGlynn was awarded the Richardson Travel Bursary to attend the 235th Electrochemical Society Meeting in Dallas, USA. Here she tells us about the talks she attended from a diverse range of speakers and how she gained valuable insights that enabled her to enhance her knowledge and understanding of materials science and electrochemistry.

‘I am a 3rd year PhD student at the University of Glasgow with an interest in electrochemistry and materials science. The primary focus of my PhD research is the storage of excess renewable energy as a fuel in the form of hydrogen. Hydrogen production via water electrolysis is a viable method for producing environmentally friendly hydrogen fuel, however, due to the intermittent nature of solar / wind power, there is a need to store excess energy for times when the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing. With this in mind, my PhD project involves the development of earth abundant solid state electrocatalysts which could act as a replacement for the expensive noble metal platinum, which is the best performing material to date. In particular, I investigate the electrochemical activation of transition metal dichalcogenide electrocatalysts, and explore a possible alternative approach to tuning bulk materials into high performing electrocatalysts for the hydrogen evolution reaction.

‘With the aid of a Richardson Travel Bursary from SCI, I was able to attend the 235th Electrochemical Society Meeting in Dallas, USA. The six day conference took place between 26th and 31st May 2019, and was located in the modern and sophisticated area of Downtown Dallas. The meeting in Dallas perfectly combined two major fields of interest related to my current work: materials science and electrochemistry, and was comprised of a number of parallel symposia, covering a wide variety of topics in both of these fields. Due to the nature of my PhD project, which encompasses both materials science and electrochemistry, I was able to attend a range of talks, each covering various aspects of research related to my interests. The wide variety of talks and posters presented at the conference offered valuable insight into current and emerging topics in energy materials, and allowed me to enhance my knowledge and understanding of the fields as a whole.

‘Throughout the conference, I attended several symposia each related to a specific subject in materials science/electrochemistry. The diverse range of speakers from Universities around the world allowed me to familiarise myself with techniques and applications which are not available within the University of Glasgow, therefore broadening my knowledge further. As a result, helpful discussions with the speakers led to the possibility of collaborating with external research groups, thus expanding the characterisation techniques available for my current work. These collaborations would therefore be beneficial to both my current work and future career.

‘Evening poster sessions also proved to be extremely beneficial. These sessions provided a relaxed environment to discuss research findings with other students and academics, while also gaining thoughtful insight into research in different institutions. Several coffee / discussion breaks were also provided between sessions, which allowed for an informal question / answer session with the speakers and attendees. These breaks therefore provided an excellent opportunity to network with a variety of students and academics in each symposium. As a result, several connections were made with various international institutions. Likewise, I was able to attend the student mixer, along with many other PhD students in attendance who were able to share their research experience and expertise.

‘Finally, I was able to give an oral presentation on my current research project titled ‘Electrochemical Activation of MoTe2 for the Hydrogen Evolution Reaction’. By presenting my work to a mixture of materials scientists and electrochemists I feel I was able to effectively summarise my project so that it was accessible to the entire audience. Subsequent questions from the audience allowed me to elaborate further on my findings, and I received very useful feedback and ideas from the attendees. This opportunity therefore provided me with an excellent platform to enhance my communication and presenting skills, all the while boosting my confidence in public speaking. As such, I believe I was able to fully engage in the conference, and contribute to the overall meeting.

‘On the whole, I found the 235th Electrochemical Society Meeting in Dallas to be an invaluable experience to my research, knowledge and overall personal development. I am extremely grateful to the SCI for awarding me a Richardson Travel Bursary. Without their contribution, I would have been unable to attend this event. Therefore, I would like to express my deepest thanks for their support and contribution to my attendance at the ECS meeting in Dallas.’

Jessica McGlynn
PhD Student
University of Glasgow

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