Royce sponsors PhD students to attend MRE2020
The Henry Royce Institute in Sheffield sponsored four PhD students to attend the UK’s flagship materials knowledge transfer event. They were asked to present posters based on their doctoral research at the biennial Materials Research Exchange, which took place at the Business Design Centre, London in February 2020. At the end of the event, these Sheffield students took home two out of the three prizes awarded for the best posters.
All four students found it enriching to attend the Materials Research Exchange, and they would each heartily recommend other PhD students to attend in 2022. We spoke to them afterwards to find out more.
Final year PhD student Daniel Geddes was one of the two prize winners. His poster focused on the sustainability of the cement industry, and how his research group aims to improve sustainability. Over the course of his PhD, he has attended around ten poster presentation events or conferences. We asked him why he wanted to attend the Materials Research Exchange. He said: “Following some research, I thought the contacts that could be generated for our research group could be immense. This proved to be the case and I have not only generated a large array of contacts but also developed projects for our lab.”
First year PhD student Nisar Ahmed produced a poster about the effect of 3D printing stainless steel on magnetisation. This was his first experience of presenting a poster at a conference, and he found it helpful for developing his confidence in talking about his research area. When asked what he most valued about attending the Materials Research Exchange, he said: “I had some useful advice for my PhD project which I wouldn’t have known if I had not attended the exchange. Making contacts and networking at the MRE event has to be the highlight of my experience.”
Third year PhD student Julia Ramirez-Gonzalez is part of the Centre for Doctoral Training in Energy Storage and its Applications. She has presented several posters at conferences in the past, but for the Materials Research Exchange she presented on the electrical characterisation of calcia-stabilised zirconia, which is an electroceramic with the ability to conduct oxide ions. She wanted to attend the Materials Research Exchange to gain insight into how researchers develop links with industry. She said: “I found it interesting to talk to representatives of the Knowledge Transfer Network and the Faraday Battery Challenge, as they shared their insights into the current available programmes and collaborations. I have learned that the key to obtaining funding is to be confident and able to articulate what you want and why you want it.”
Final year Biomaterials PhD student Jose Aguilar Cosme was the second of the Sheffield students to win a poster prize at the Materials Research Exchange. He had also presented a few other posters in the past. He said: “I wanted to attend MRE as it was a different style of meeting, one focused on collaboration between different UK organisations. I found the Royce stands to be quite interesting – there is a lot of potential with the equipment and facilities that are freely available. Additionally, it was useful to see how more tools and strategies from different areas of materials science can benefit our work in biomaterials. I think that the part of MRE that I most enjoyed was the talk on organic electronic devices for drug discovery from Dr Roísín Owen, University of Cambridge. Her group’s work was fascinating and provided a good insight into how my own research could improve.
“MRE 2020 was a completely different experience to what I originally expected, in a good way. It broadened my perspective on materials development and collaboration. I would recommend other PhD students to go as it was a great way to meet new people working in similar topics from all over the UK.”
The Henry Royce Institute in Sheffield will be looking to build on its experience at MRE and attend future major materials exhibitions across the UK. You can find out more about our offering by visiting our Virtual Exhibition.