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SCI Scholar, Ivalina Minova, presents her end of year report

Ivalina Minova

5 Sep 2019

For over thirty years, SCI has supported and recognised the excellence of early career people, by aiding their studies in the form of an SCI Scholarship.

Since 1985 over 70 scholarships have been awarded which have not only given the recipients financial assistance, but have enabled them to broaden their network, and strengthen their skills and knowledge. SCI Scholars receive access to publishing and mentoring opportunities and are given a platform to present their work amongst esteemed scientists and industrialists, thus raising their profile within the scientific community. In the past nine years alone, SCI has generously bequeathed over £115,000 of its charitable funds to SCI Scholars and the scientists of the future.

Ivalina Minova was awarded an SCI Scholarship in 2018. At the end of their first year, SCI Scholars present an end of year report to SCI. Read on to find out more about what Ivalina has done in her first year as an SCI Scholar.

‘Being awarded an SCI scholarship in July 2018 was a memorable and rewarding occasion. The scholarship has enabled me to become involved in more SCI activities, after becoming a committee member of the SCI Scotland Group and becoming an SCI Ambassador at the University of St Andrews. I was also given opportunities to attend the SCI College of Scholars Day (London), a career event ‘You are hired!’ (Glasgow), and the business training day of the Bright SCIdea challenge. Attendance at these events has given me opportunities to meet early career researchers like myself as well as successful entrepreneurs and allowed me to learn first-hand what it takes to start a business. At the networking reception of the ‘You are hired!’ event I gained a mentor for the SCI Mentoring Programme scheme that will no doubt be of great assistance in navigating future career decisions.

‘My PhD research is based on developing advanced characterisation methods for studying zeolite catalysts. In particular, I am investigating the methanol to hydrocarbons process and the selective catalytic reduction of NOx exhaust gases produced in diesel engines by infrared microspectroscopy. I have attended six sessions at the Diamond Light Source to analyse the catalytic behaviour of materials that I had synthesised. I took the opportunity to present my work to the wider chemistry community at the British Zeolite Conference (Lake District), the UK Catalysis Conference (Loughborough) and the II UK Emission Control Workshop (Harwell). Later this year (March 2019), I will be delivering an oral talk at the American Chemical Society (ACS) National Meeting and Exposition in Orlando (Florida, US). I look forward to showcasing our most recent findings on the methanol to hydrocarbons process and the role of surface methoxy groups in direct alkene formation. This conference visit is generously supported by an SCI Messel Travel Bursary. I have very much enjoyed drafting a manuscript on this research with our collaborators, and we hope to get published in a high impact journal soon.

‘In addition to attending conferences and events described above, the financial support that SCI provided in my first year as a scholar has allowed me to part cover the cost of completing a laboratory research placement visit to the UK Catalysis Hub at the Harwell Research Complex. The purpose of the visit was to do catalytic testing and experimental development work using high calibre equipment that is not available in St Andrews University.

‘With the support of the SCI scholarship, I am now taking a very exciting three-month industrial placement abroad to the research and production site of Johnson Matthey (US, Georgia), a speciality chemical company. The placement visit applies our newly developed advanced characterisation method at the Diamond Light Source to a direct industrial application. The project is of mutual scientific interest and benefit to both parties. I am very thankful to the SCI for supporting me to embark on this unique opportunity to work at the interface of science and business.

‘In the coming year I look forward to submitting our Bright SCIdea business plan and presenting at the SCI annual group meeting in London. Once again, I would like to thank SCI for their scholarship, travel bursary and continuous new opportunities that are enriching my PhD experience.’

Ivalina Minova
PhD Student
University of St Andrews

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