Rideal Travel Bursary Recipient, Thais Abelha, reports from Pacifichem 2015 in Hawaii

19 Feb 2016

Thais Abelha was awarded a Rideal Travel Bursary in 2015 to attend Pacfichem 2015, the chemical congress of Pacific Basin Societies, which was held in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA from 15 to 20 December 2015. Below she tells us how attending the conference was a great opportunity to explain her work and exchange experiences with researchers in similar interest areas.

‘I was a second year PhD student at King’s College London working on fluorescent nanoparticles for bioimaging when I applied for the SCI/RSC Sir Eric Rideal travel bursary. At that time, I was exploring the application of microfluidics to synthesize conjugated polymers nanoparticles, in collaboration with Prof John de Mello’s group (Imperial College London). The outcome of this work led to an abstract submission for the International Chemical Congress of Pacific Basin Societies 2015 (Pacifichem 2015) entitled ‘Control of conjugated polymer nanoparticle size and emission properties through microfluidics synthesis’, which was shortlisted in the top 10% of 3645 submissions for a poster prize. I was honoured to be awarded the SCI/RSC Sir Eric Rideal travel bursary; it enabled me to attend Pacifichem 2015 from 15 to 20 December 2015 in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.

‘Pacifichem 2015 was the largest international conference I have ever attended, hosting nearly 16,000 participants. The technical programme, divided into 11 scientific areas, presented 334 symposia and 1493 oral/poster sessions with contributions from 71 different countries. The conference offered a broad scientific scope as well as topics directly related to the field I am interested in. I was fortunate that the area of Materials & Nanoscience included the symposium ‘Conjugated Polymers for Biological Applications’ that was specifically applied to my research subject. Moreover, my supervisor Prof Mark Green, was one of the speakers at the conference, contributing with the work ‘Some biological applications of nanomaterials, from quantum dots, through polymers, to biosynthesis’. Another research group member, Laura Urbano, also participated and presented a poster entitled ‘Optimization of the formulation of photoluminescent conjugated polymer nanoparticles for diagnostics and bioimaging’.

‘I presented my work at the Materials & Nanoscience poster session and during the poster competition. Both events provided me a great opportunity to explain my work and exchange experiences with researchers with similar interests. The poster competition provided me the experience of being in a competitive atmosphere and increased my confidence regarding my communication skills.

Additionally, I attended many interesting talks in the symposia: ‘ Conjugated Polymers for Biological Applications’; ‘Organic, Inorganic and Hybrid Nanoparticles: Synthesis characterization and Applications’; ‘Multi-scale & Synergistic Supramolecular Systems in Material and Biomedical Sciences’; ‘Luminescent Nanomaterials: Properties, Mechanisms and Applications’ and ‘Self-assembled Biofunctional Nanomaterials’. The addressed topics were relevant to the research I have been developing and provided me with an awareness of the recent developments in the field.

‘In addition to the Conference days in Oahu, I had the privilege to spend extra time exploring the scenic Hawaiian Islands. The stunning beauty of the archipelago and the traditions of the indigenous Polynesian people make Hawaii an extraordinary place. Its unique natural environment has provided me the chance to watch humpback whales and to visit an active volcano for the first time.

‘Overall, attending Pacifichem 2015 has contributed to my professional development and I personally found it a remarkable experience. Therefore I would like to particularly thank SCI and RSC as well as King’s College Graduate School for contributing with the costs towards my attendance at the conference. I am especially thankful to Professor John de Mello (Imperial College London) and my supervisors Dr Lea Ann Dailey and Professor Mark Green (King’s College London) for trusting me with the development of the microfluidics work. I also would like to thank Thomas W Phillips and Dr James H Bannock (Imperial College London) for their help during experimental procedures; Dr Cécile Ayako Dreiss (King’s College London) for introducing me to SCI and the Brazilian Government scholarship programme, Science Without Borders, for the granted four-year PhD in the UK (full PhD 0685/13-5).’

Thais Fedatto Abelha
PhD student, King’s College London

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