Fellows Experience in Outreach Activities

Being a Marie Curie Fellow we are involved not only directly in research but also in outreach activities connected to our field. In our case we believe it is important to show how mandatory and useful it is to find alternative sources of energy and chemicals for the next generation. As a result the main goal of our outreach is to show others why this area of research is important and the science being developed to achieve viable alternate sources of energy for the next generation. When thinking where to start and which community would be most interested and affected by these issues high school students seemed an obvious choice due to the role they will play in continuing to change the world over the coming decades. Looking for sustainable, more efficient and less contaminating methodologies to cover humanity’s demands in the future is a very important need and it will be firstly in their hands to find viable solutions.

In order to achieve these ambitious research projects the next generation has to be involved in science. The planet needs highly motivated researchers who in the long term will lead the discovery and innovation in natural sciences and their synergy with other disciplines.

We, the current fellows of the Marie Curie Network “Sustainable biomass conversions by highly efficient catalytic processes”-SuBiCat carry out different outreach activities to spread knowledge, motivate and encourage students across the world. Potential scientists and self-motivated people looking for opportunities will find inspiration in our presentations, demonstrations, blogs, articles, conferences and any other way we use to inform the general public about our work.

  • 1. Science demonstration to students from national (UK) and international schools
  • 2. ChemBus
  • 3. Representation of fellows across the world
  • 4. Lesson “Fungal enzymes involved in biomass degradation”
  • 5. Guest lecture on chemicals from renewables and publications from Master projects
  • 6. “Renewable carbon sources for the chemical industry” and “Chemicals from lignin” to inform people outside the university
  • 7. Mentoring of undergraduate and master students
  • 8. High school student training, July, 2016
  • 9. Internship student, July, 2016
  • 10. My Secondment in CAT Catalysis Center, November, 2016
  • 11. Outreach Activities By Khaled Khalili, Utrecht University, January, 2017
  • 12. Press interview: Interview with the Digital University Journal (DUB), June 2106 (ESR9: Khaled Khalili)
  • 13. Online interview of the project aims at dub.uu.com (ESR4: Antonio Martinez Pascual)
  • 14. SuBiCat activities on occasions

Outreach activities

Science demonstration to students from national (UK) and international schools

These activities have involved general chemistry and sustainable chemistry related to lignin valorisation. Students from different schools have the opportunity to come to the University of St Andrews during the summer break to have an overview of our scientific environment and research projects. In other cases we visit schools within St Andrews and Fife.

  • Presentation on Biomass conversion to primary school students during earth hour activities at Cannongate primary school, St Andrews, Scotland. 24th March, 2015
    By Paola Andrea Forero Cortes
  • Lecture and demo on Biomass conversion to High School students at the event Sutton Trust Summer School 2015, St Andrews, Scotland. 2nd July, 2015 By Paola Andrea Forero Cortes, Ciaran Lahive, Stephanie Spoehrle and Saumya Dabral
  • Lecture and demo on Biomass conversion to High School students at the International Science Summer School, St Andrews, Scotland. 7th July, 2015 By Paola Andrea Forero Cortes, Ciaran Lahive, Stephanie Spoehrle and Saumya Dabral http://kamergroup.org/gallery/gallery-photo.php?gal_id=1

ChemBus

The “ChemBus” is a traditional outreach activity promoted by the Chemistry Department of the University of St Andrews where a bus with all the necessary equipment and experienced chemistry students visits different schools demonstrating interesting experiments to their students and teachers during the day. The demonstrators are shown fundamental chemistry in a friendly environment and the students can partake in different experiments not usually undertaken at the schools. An introduction to the experiments is given highlighting the chemistry principles being illustrated in the activity. This allows the students to fully understand the background of the concepts presented and relate them to their own studies. This activity takes place several times a year.

ChemBus at Grove Academy Secondary School, Dundee, Scotland. 25th November, 2015
By Paola Andrea Forero Cortes and Stephanie Spoehrle

Feedback:

“Just a quick note to say a big thanks to you and your team for your visit to Grove yesterday. I've had a chance to get some feedback from some of the pupils who all agreed that it was "amazing".

Representation of fellows across the world

Representation of the South American fellows in the Marie Curie Fellows Association encouraging students abroad to get involved in research and how to find opportunities in the field. Article published in Marie Curie Fellows Association “Researchers without frontiers” MCFA Letter to Members The Speaker's CornerPage 7 and 8 in Letter to members - 2015-04 http://mcfa.eu/site3/sites/default/files/ltm1505.pdf
By Paola Andrea Forero Cortes

Lesson “Fungal enzymes involved in biomass degradation”

The goal of this activity was to introduce them to biomass-degrading enzymes which have great potential in the production of chemicals and biofuels from renewable lignocellulosic biomass. The lesson consisted of theoretical and experimental part. In the theoretical students got a short overview of biomass-modifying enzymes together with their biocatalytic pathways.
Helsinki, April 15th, 2015
By Mila Marinović

Guest lecture on chemicals from renewables and publications from Master projects

The subject “chemicals from renewables” was introduced by explaining the possibilities and challenges using highlights of recent progress from the literature. This class included tutorials and was part of the exam. The bachelor students performed activities from organic synthesis of lignin resembling model compounds to extraction of lignin and of course catalytic transformations of lignin. Both these students became enthusiastic for the topic and will return for master projects. The master students (M. Scott) performed mechanistical investigations on lignin depolymerisation which resulted in contributions to two journal articles (Catal. Sci. Technol., 2016, DOI: 10.1039/C5CY01554E and JACS, 2015, 7456 ).
By Dr. Peter J. Deuss

“Renewable carbon sources for the chemical industry”

“Renewable carbon sources for the chemical industry” and “Chemicals from lignin” to inform people outside the university

For this purpose, two hours of lecture material in the form of slides and tutorial questions on the topic of. This lecture material was taught at part of a Green Chemistry course at the Hoogeschool Enschede (Saxion University of Applied Sciences). To ensure that the materials could also be used by other lecturers the slides were designed be particularly clear and with engaging figures. The first hour focused on why current fossil resources should be replaced, why biopolymers are such potent chemical feedstocks and where challenges lie. To illustrate this, several materials such as rubber that are already produced from natural sources were highlighted as well as processes that are currently in development. This part also went into the concept of platform chemicals and “drop-in strategies” versus “substituting strategies”. The second part is all about the valorisation of lignin. To illustrate the difficulties of dealing with lignin, the differences between lignin that come from different sources and different extraction processes, were illustrated by a set of self-made foto’s of lignin highlighting the huge difference that can already be observed from physical appearance. The rest of the lecture was focused on recent developments in lignin depolymerisation methodology.
By Dr. Peter J. Deuss

Mentoring of undergraduate and master students

As part of our work as PhD students and postdoctoral researchers we supervise and assist undergraduate and master students embarking on research projects within our laboratories. This work involves project planning, literature research and practical instruction and supervision within a laboratory setting followed by advising them on analysis and reporting of results.
By Dr. Peter J. Deuss, Paola Andrea Forero Cortes, Davide Di Mario, Saumya Dabral

High school student training, July, 2016

High school student training, July, 2016 (Heterologous expression, purification and activity test of lignin degrading enzymes): a high school student from UK visited our labs and took a one-week long lab training under my supervision carrying out the heterologous expression, purification and enzymatic activity tests of a bacterial lignin degrading enzyme.

Internship student, July, 2016

Internship student, July, 2016 (Heterologous expression, purification and activity test of lignin degrading enzymes): a bachelor student from RWTH Aachen University participated in a one-week long training in our labs under my supervision carrying out the heterologous expression, purification and activity tests of a bacterial laccase which is one of the most important lignin-degrading enzymes.

My Secondment in CAT Catalysis Center, November, 2016

Secondment took place at the CAT Catalytic Center in collaboration with RWTH Aachen University in Germany. I have learnt methods of lignin isolation from various plant biomass, as well as lignin model compound cleavage analytics. The secondment was very beneficial for understanding lignin chemistry in more detail. My chemistry colleagues thought me a lot, and I am grateful for valuable learning experience.

Outreach Activities By Khaled Khalili, Utrecht University, January, 2017

In June 2016, I have been interviewed by the DBU. DUB is The Digital University Journal, which is an independent media of the University of Utrecht. The interview was an opportunity to introduce me, my research, and the SubiCat training network to the people. Following is the interview:
Who are you and what you do?
My name is Khaled a PhD candidate in the Inorganic Chemistry and Catalysis group. I am working on the development and validation of in-situ multi-modal spectroscopy approach, combining Raman, IR, UV-Vis, for monitoring biomass (lignin) depolymerization and valorization processes at high temperatures and pressures, and monitoring catalyst performance and deactivation under relevant reaction conditions.
Due to the complexity and multivariate nature of the obtained in-situ spectroscopic data, advanced chemometrics techniques are employed to extract detailed qualitative and quantitative chemical information from the spectroscopic data.
Where is this workplace?
This is the high-pressure lab located on the 4th floor of David de Wied building. This lab is specially equipped and designed to work with high-pressure high-temperature systems.

Press interview: Interview with the Digital University Journal (DUB), June 2106 (ESR9: Khaled Khalili)

Download interview

Online interview of the project aims at dub.uu.com (ESR4: Antonio Martinez Pascual)

Download interview

SuBiCat activities on occasions

  • J. G. de Vries, “Catalytic Conversion of Renewable Resources into Bulk and Fine Chemicals” Invited Lecture at Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, October 2015.
  • J. G. de Vries, “Catalytic Conversion of Renewable Resources into Bulk and Fine Chemicals”, Invited lecture at the Technische Universität Dortmund, Germany, November 2015.
  • J. G. de Vries, “Catalytic Conversion of Renewable Resources into Bulk and Fine Chemicals”, Invited lecture at the Universität Regensburg, Germany, December 2015.
  • J. G. de Vries, “Catalytic Conversion of Renewable Resources into Bulk and Fine Chemicals”, Invited lecture at Pacifichem, Honolulu, USA, December 2015.
  • J. G. de Vries, “Catalytic Conversion of Renewable Resources into Bulk & Fine Chemicals” Invited lecture at Symposium "New trends in Inorganic Chemistry” Mexico City, Mexico, March 2016.
  • J. G. de Vries, “Low Temperature Depolymerisation of Lignin. Where are the Bottlenecks?” Invited lecture at the 4th Tailor made Fuels from Biomass Symposium, Aachen, June 2016.
  • J. G. de Vries, “New Fine Chemical Building Blocks from Lignin via Stabilisation of Reactive Intermediates from the 2-Acidolysis Pathway.” Invited lecture at Symposium Frontiers in Biorefining 2016, St. Simon’s Island, GA, USA, November 2016
  • J. G. de Vries, “Catalytic Conversion of Renewable Resources into Bulk and Fine Chemicals” Invited lecture at Universität Hamburg, Germany, December 2016
  • J. G. de Vries, “New Fine Chemical Building Blocks from Lignin via Stabilisation of Reactive Intermediates of the C-2 Acidolyisis Pathway”, Invited lecture at ACS Spring meeting, San Francisco, USA, April 2017.


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