Meijer Group SURE student on research paper

A recent academic research paper published in Inorganic Chemistry, as a collaboration between the Weinstein and Meijer groups, includes work from an undergraduate student on the SURE programme, Hannah Fowler, who performed calculations on some of the systems studied in this paper.

Hannah deserves congratulations for her contribution to science; carrying out and publishing novel chemical research is demanding. Contributing to a paper so early is an excellent start to her career in science and a testament to the quality of the SURE scheme.

The Catalytic Cycle studied in Hannah Fowlers SURE projectThe Sheffield Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) was established to offer undergraduates at the university a paid research project for several weeks over the summer in an academic research group. This placement provides undergraduates with the opportunity to get a feel for work performed in research and learn skills that could be applied to further undergraduate studies as well as postgraduate research.

Hannah secured one of these placements from June to August 2016. She worked within the Meijer group studying the catalytic conversion of CO2 into fuel which has many industrial applications. The computational study was in collaboration with, then Ph.D. student, Theo Keane who organised and supervised the SURE project.

Her project consisted of a computational investigation of the potential catalysts that can be used in the conversion of CO2 to CO. Hannah studied the reaction pathways in the complicated catalytic cycle, shown above, to produce a energy profile for the catalysts of interest. Computational studies are useful in this regard as theoretical chemistry can provide a detailed account of how a catalyst works without needing to synthesis them. Experimental work was performed by members of the Weinstein group to confirm some of the conclusions raised through the computational investigation.

A related tangent to this project resulted in Hannah’s contribution to the paper. In addition to the main project, she also investigated the vibrational stretches of several Manganese complexes using computational studies.

About her SURE project, Hannah said that: "The experience was definitely worth it, I feel I have learnt a lot about research and it has definitely made me want to continue my studies with a Ph.D."

About the SURE Scheme

The SURE scheme is a competitive scheme, open to all students who currently study at the university, with applications closing in March next year. For students starting in 2017, in addition to the SURE scheme, the department has launched its own Undergraduate Research Scholarships, which will guarantee a similar experience to those students, who fulfil certain requirements regarding A-level and performance. Please see here for more information.

Written By
Joe Clarke

With thanks to Hannah Fowler for diagrams and contribution.