Simona-Vyara Kolarova was awarded a Rideal Travel Bursary to attend the 9th biennial Australia Colloid and Interface Symposium (ACIS) in Hobart, Tasmania. Here, she describes how her attendance improved her knowledge and gave her the opportunity to present her work and grow her network.
‘ I am a fourth year PhD student sponsored by an EPSRC CASE studentship joint between King’s College London and GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare and my work is focused on the formulation of pharmaceutically acceptable non-aqueous microemulsions for the improved delivery of active materials within the oral cavity.
‘In February 2019, I attended the 9th biennial Australia Colloid and Interface Symposium (ACIS) in Hobart, Tasmania. The event encompassed a great variety of themes focused around soft materials, colloids and interfaces engineering and characterisation with a strong emphasis on the application of the systems to the development of foods, consumer care products and medicine. The symposium was attended by more than 200 scientists from a variety of disciplines engaged in both academic and industrial research across the globe.
‘The large range of backgrounds and interests among researchers at the conference facilitated great talks, poster sessions and discussions. Of particular interest to me were presentations in the “Soft Material Engineering in Foods, Consumer Care Products and Pharmaceuticals” theme at the symposium, which were closely related to the Consumer Healthcare formulation development work in my PhD project.
‘Furthermore, I attended a range of other stimulating sessions organised at the event. These included the half-day “Commercialisation and translation” panel, in which leading experts from the bioengineering, dairy food, explosives and intellectual property sectors discussed the path of research from invention to commercialisation, and the plenary and public lecture by Professor Ole Mouritsen of the University of Copenhagen, in which he delved into the science and history behind taste and, using different food samples provided to each attendant at the beginning of the lecture, exemplified the concepts of the tactile component of taste, mouthfeel, and the fifth basic taste, umami, in an exciting way for both the scientists and public manner.
‘In addition to gaining relevant knowledge and understanding new perspectives in my field through the available sessions, I also had the opportunity to present my work in a 15-minute oral presentation as part of the “Soft Material Engineering in Foods, Consumer Care Products and Pharmaceuticals” theme. In the presentation, I talked about the solvent properties which we have identified as key for non-aqueous microemulsion formation with lecithin (the amphiphilicity of the polar solvent and molecular volume of the oil) and about how we have used our understanding of the non-aqueous systems to create a number of machine learning models capable of predicting the effect of different solvents on the phase behaviour of the systems. Following my presentation, I received a range of thought-provoking questions, which led to in-depth discussions about non-aqueous microemulsion development and characterisation throughout the event and potential opportunities for collaboration in the future. Moreover, these follow-up discussions were a great opportunity for networking with early career researchers, senior scientists and entrepreneurs alike and provided me with new insight about the various career paths I can follow after my graduation.
‘I am deeply grateful to the RSC/SCI Rideal Trust for awarding me the Rideal Travel Bursary and supporting my attendance of the Australian Colloid and Interface Symposium, which has been a brilliant educational, networking and cultural experience for me. I would also like to thank everyone in the Institute of Pharmaceutical Science in King’s College London and GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare for the help and support I have received throughout my studies.‘
King’s College London and GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare