26 Apr 2016
For the first time SCI and the Department of Chemistry (University of Cambridge) came together to organise an undergraduate symposium which was held on the 10 March 2016 at the Pfizer Lecture Theatre, Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge, and had the support of the Graduate Networking and Social Committee. The event followed the timetable below:
10:30 - 11:00: Coffee/tea (Todd-Hamid Room)
11:00 - 11:30: Introduction talk - Jayshree Mistry (SCI)
11:30 - 12:30: Student's talks
- Bang Cong Huynh
Preparation and electronic properties of actinide-doped skutterudites
- Jessica Cross
Optimisation of reaction conditions to reduce need for pre-conditioning phase in flow-generation of diazo compounds
- James Weber
Nano-porous Silicon Sensors for Volatile Organic Compounds
- Iain Dykes
Flow synthesis of homoallylic alcohols via a multicomponent cascade reaction
12:30 - 13:30: Lunch and networking break (Todd-Hamid Room)
13:30 - 14:00: Prize announcement and closing remarks
The selected talks presented in this symposium were related to works carried out by the students in summer projects or in the final year of their undergraduate studies. The presenters showed high quality work and presentation skills, judged by the two referees, Prof Chris Hunter and Dr Andjela Saric. The first prize was awarded to James Weber and the runner up was Jessica Cross.
With an overall attendance of 30 people, including undergraduate and graduate students, and postdocs, the audience and other participants appreciated the event and gave good feedback about its strengths and weakness. Based on that, it was suggested to repeat the event yearly and institutionalise it in a more structured format. The following suggestions have been made:
- Plan the event with more time in advance and rearrange the date so that it is not close to project submission, exams or end of term.
- Make it a mandatory activity for final year undergraduates (Part III projects). All part III students would be asked to send an abstract and ten would be selected for oral presentations.
- Part II students would also have the same opportunity of abstract submission, depending on their interests.
- An abstract template should be provided.
- Some PhD students would also be invited for “filler talks” so that undergraduate students will feel more motivated.
- Supervisors should be asked to recommend their best students for oral presentation.
The organising team has received positive feedback from undergraduate students that enjoyed the presentations and the networking with graduate students. It met the initial aim of the Symposium: provide an opportunity for the students to talk to a larger group and to encourage them with their future careers. We believe that this type of initiative is important if we want to build a supportive and inclusive environment in Science.
In conclusion, the organising team will encourage the maintenance of the Undergraduate Symposium in the Department's annual calendar. The Research and Development section is likely to fund the event again, and SCI support for future events will be highly appreciated as well.
Photos: Jessica Cross, Bang Cong Huynh, Iain Dykes, James Weber