Sheffield scientists awarded prestigious chemistry prizes

11th May 2016

Two pioneering scientists from the University of Sheffield have been honoured by the world's leading chemistry community.

Dr Sarah Staniland and Professor Michael Ward have both been awarded prizes by the Royal Society of Chemistry in recognition of their achievements to advance the chemical sciences. Dr Staniland has been awarded the Harrison-Meldola Memorial Prize, which honours her meritorious and promising original investigations in chemistry, while Professor Ward has been honoured with the Supramolecular Chemistry Award, which recognises his design of functionally useful supramolecular species. Dr Staniland is Senior Lecturer in Bionanoscience at the University of Sheffield and she is fascinated by the way that living things are able to make incredible hard materials and minerals. For example magnetic bacteria can make magnetite nanoparticles, known as magnetosomes, of precise size and shape within their cells. Dr Staniland has been investigating how this process works and how we can harness it to form customised magnetosomes for use in biomedicine. -I am thrilled to be awarded this prize. Multidisciplinary science can be very challenging to approach but it is worth it. It breaks the conventional moulds of established disciplines and thus is more able to be free and creative in ideas and thinking, leading to really exciting and original science. With this in mind, I would like to offer my thanks and appreciation to my research group. They are brave and open-minded to begin this work and very talented and resilient to see their projects through, Dr Staniland said. Professor Ward's research has involved the self-assembly of hollow cage molecules, in which a large number of simple components spontaneously come together to form a large, hollow, roughly spherical array called a 'coordination cage'. Self-assembly allows large and complicated molecules with elaborate structures to form under their own steam from very simple components. Apart from their interesting structures, these cages can trap small molecules in the central space, allowing a small molecule to hide inside a large one like nested Russian dolls. This may have many useful applications, from carrying drug molecules into cells, to allowing toxic molecules to be trapped and destroyed inside the cage cavity. Professor Ward said: -I was very pleased to hear that I have been selected for this award. There is a lot of very good supramolecular chemistry going on in the UK so this came as a surprise, but a very welcome one. -The ability to manipulate supramolecular assemblies rather than just individual molecules is becoming a field of immense promise and importance in fields as diverse as materials science and chemical biology and it is exciting to be a part of it. -The recent work from my group, which is behind this award, has involved an outstanding group of PhD students and academic collaborators to whom I express my sincere thanks. An illustrious list of 47 previous winners of the Royal Society of Chemistry's Awards have gone on to win Nobel Prizes for their pioneering work, including the late Professor Sir Harry Kroto, Fred Sanger and Linus Pauling. Dr Robert Parker, Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry said: -It is an honour to recognise the illustrious achievements of our prize and award winners in our 175th anniversary year. -We were founded in 1841 by a group of academics, industrialists and doctors who understood the power of the chemical sciences to change our world for the better. Our winners share that vision and are advancing excellence in their fields, whether through innovative research or inspirational teaching and outreach. -We are proud to celebrate and support the work of inspiring and influential individuals, whose work has the potential to improve so many lives. Prize winners are evaluated for the originality and impact of their research, as well as the quality of the results which can be shown in publications, patents, or even software. The awards also recognise the importance of teamwork across the chemical sciences, and the abilities of individuals to develop successful collaborations.

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