My PhD concerned ‘Bioinorganic chemistry mimicking copper metalloenzymes’ with Professor David Fenton at the University of Sheffield and was sponsored by BP Chemicals. This developed dicopper complexes of macrocylic Schiff base ligands.
I then worked at the University of Kansas as a postdoctoral fellow developing ‘Metal catalysts for bleach activation’ with Professor Daryle Busch and the Proctor & Gamble Company which led to several patents and publications.
I returned to the UK in 1998, working at the University of Exeter as a postdoctoral fellow studying ‘Metal containing liquid crystals’ with Professor Duncan Bruce. In 2000 I continued at the University of Exeter as a postdoctoral fellow developing ‘Electrochemical sensors for biological molecules’ with Dr Jim Tucker.
In 2001 I was appointed at the University of Nottingham as a temporary lecturer and subsequently teaching fellow in Inorganic Chemistry.
In 2009 I moved to Cranfield University as a lecturer in Environmental and Waste Chemistry.
I joined the Open University in November 2011 as a Teaching Fellow in Chemistry and an Associate Lecturer on the level 3 Metals and Life course.
In march 2014 I was promoted to be a lecturer in Chemistry.
My research interests include chemical education, materials chemistry, biological inorganic chemistry, catalysis, environmental and sustainable chemistry.
Currently I am researching best practise in student teaching and learning using synchronous and asynchronous online media. For instance in collaboration with Drs Crabb, Williams and Janes we have an eSTeEM funded project entitled Graduate skills in chemistry: online delivery, assessment and tracking.
I am also interested in improving the experience of international students in online learning and developing problem based learning for chemistry students. Consequently I led a HEA funded project on context based learning activities to better engage international students in distance learning.
I am part of team developing remote undergraduate experiments in particular using flow chemistry.
I have a long standing interest in applying chemistry to real world challenges. Current and recent projects include;-
1) Upcycling of food waste into higher value proteins or peptides using (a) polymer supported transition metal catalysts and (b) chitosan supported enzymes.
2) Metal complexes for DNA binding to enhance radiotherapy.
3) Development of more environmentally-friendly road markings, Knowledge Transfer Partnership with WJ Products Ltd and the Open University.
4) Recycling waste plastics either by depolymerisation to their monomers (e.g. mixtures of polyethylene terephthalate and polylactic acid) or decolourising waste plastic film (e.g. polyethylene or polystyrene).
5) Recycling carpets in the removal of pollution (e.g. phosphate or metals) from water.
6) Analysing precious and strategically important metals in waste materials (e.g. Waste electronic and electrical equipment, WEEE, ash from incineration and leachate).
7) The application of catalysis to the conversion of biomass, in particular the oxidation of starch, cellulose and lignin.
8) Assessing the future roles of landfill and biogas.
9) Analysing stakeholder interdependancies in the developing bioplastics market.
We gratefully acknowledge DEFRA, the Chartered Institute of Wastes Management (CIWM), the RSC, IBCarb Network, the British Council, Geotech and the Nuffield Foundation for supporting this work in recent years.
Also I act as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Chemistry.
S205 The Molecular World
S347 Metals and Life
SXM 390 Science project course: Frontiers in Chemistry
Tutored on SXR103 Practising Science and S215 Laboratory course
Course production team for S215 Chemistry Essential Concepts and S315 Chemistry Further Concepts
Chair for the production of S350 Evaluating Contemporary Science
I have been an advisor to BBC Radio 4’s Inside Science
Whilst at the OU, I have enjoyed supervising two A-S level Nuffield students (Abi Barbour and Ben Phan) who both obtained their Gold Crest awards. Concurrently I supervised two undergraduate summer project students (Kirsten Hawkins and Joe Beebee).
I am a STEM ambassador and have led several outreach activities on Plastics and their recycling for ChemistryInAction.
Recent oral presentations include the following
|Role||Start date||End date||Funding source|
|Lead||04/Jul/2016||26/Aug/2016||IB Carb Network|
This is a pilot research project for an undergraduate student. The project builds on my previous research functionalizing the carbohydrates starch and chitosan to produce new functional materials. This project will support proteases on chitosan to produce recyclable and stable catalysts for the hydrolysis of protein wastes to more valuable hydrolysates. WRAP has estimated waste in the food and drinks supply chain (WRAP 01 312 PAD102-308) reporting that ‘about 2.25 million tonnes of material are rendered each year to produce around 500,000 tonnes of protein meal.’ This example represents an important biorefinery resource for valuable proteins, peptides and amino acids. Protein containing wastes arise from several food industries and the focus here will be from cheese production (whey protein), connective tissue (the protein collagen which yields gelatin), and eggs (ovalbumin). The hydrolysates from waste proteins often display improved antioxidant properties compared to the protein and this will be also studied.
|Role||Start date||End date||Funding source|
|Lead||06/Jul/2015||28/Aug/2015||Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)|
This was to fund an undergraduate student, Kirsten Hawkins, who has approached the department for a summer placement.New approaches that localise radiosensitivity within tumours have the potential to improve the effectiveness of radiotherapy and reduce side effects for patients. Here we developed compounds, known as radiosensitisers, containing heavier elements such as metals that produce electrons upon radiotherapy. These electrons promote localised DNA damage in cancer cells leading to their death. Careful design of the complexes aimed to promote their localisation in the DNA of cancer cells so that those that these are most damaged upon radiotherapy. It is significant that we developed one copper containing compound that exhibited a comparatively low cytotoxicity in HEK293T cells (human embryonic kidney cells) over 24 h, for example it was approximately 45 times less cytotoxic to these cells in comparison to the anticancer drug cis-platin. This suggests its further study in targeted radiotherapy where the cytotoxicity in cancer cells would be turned on by the application of the radiotherapy. It is significant that we developed one copper containing compound that exhibited a comparatively low cytotoxicity in HEK293T cells (human embryonic kidney cells) over 24 h, for example it was approximately 45 times less cytotoxic to these cells in comparison to the anticancer drug cis-platin. This suggests its further study in targeted radiotherapy where the cytotoxicity in cancer cells would be turned on by the application of the radiotherapy. Abi Barbour, an A-S level student, also worked on this project under the Nuffield Research Placement scheme and as a result achieved her Gold Crest award.
|Role||Start date||End date||Funding source|
|Lead||01/Mar/2015||29/Feb/2016||CIWM-Defra Chartered Institution of wastes Management - Defra|
This MSc project was supported by Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) and Defra. Globally the food industry produces more than 2.25 million tons of food wastes every year, representing a valuable resource for proteins, peptides and amino acids. Protein rich wastes arise from several industries including the retail of products from fish (fish meal, WRAP Project code:RSC009-001 & RSC009-003), poultry (feathers) and eggs (egg shell membrane). These proteins can be extracted to yield mixtures of valuable chemicals that for instance display antioxidant properties. This project studied ‘upcycling’ food waste into high-value chemicals using novel catalysts of zinc or nickel complexes supported on the biopolymer chitosan or the synthetic ion exchange resin Dowex M4195. These novel heterogeneous catalysts catalysed the mild hydrolysis of proteins from food waste and could be easily recovered and reused. In several cases these hydrolysis reactions successfully produced protein hydrolysates with better antioxidant activities than the initial proteins. Additionally an economic assessment was made of the cost of the catalysts against the value of the hydrolysed peptides produced. This pilot project involved Marc Berger (MSc student), Simon Collinson (at the OU), Raffaella Villa (Cranfield University) and Nick Turner (at the OU).
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