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UC chemistry student to attend key conference in Dallas

UC chemistry student receives fellowship to attend key conference in Dallas

October 6, 2013

A University of Canterbury (UC) PhD chemistry student has received a Claude McCarthy Fellowship to attend the 25th Austin Symposium on molecular structure and dynamics at Dallas, Texas, in March next year.

Sandra Atkinson will take part in the Austin Symposium, which is an opportunity for young researchers from around the world to meet internationally recognised scientists and discuss chemistry research in fields related to the study of molecular structure.

The conference will attract researchers from a broad range of topics including electron diffraction, spectroscopy, molecular dynamics and computational chemistry.

The March 1 to 4 event next year is being held in memoriam of Professor James Boggs, one of the organisers of the first Austin Symposium in 1966, Atkinson says.

``Due to the success of the collaborations established from previous conferences, many notable speakers will attend this specially marked event.

``In particular, Sir Harry Kroto will attend. It was a meeting with Bob Curl at the 1984 conference that led Sir Harry to visit Rice University in Houston, Texas, and conduct the experiment with Curl and Richard Smalley in 1985 that led to the discovery of the fullerene carbon molecule, for which all three of them won the 1996 Nobel Prize in chemistry.

``I will be able to further my understanding of chemistry and especially my field of gas-phase electron diffraction by attending the Austin symposium. But I will also have the opportunity to establish a network of contacts.

``Networking opportunities like these are crucial for young researchers and as they can lead to research opportunities and future collaborations,’’ Atkinson says.

Earlier this year, Atkinson joined an elite group of international young scientists in Germany. She was one of 18 PhD students from around the world who attended a five day event following the 63rd Lindau Nobel Laureate meeting where 625 students took part, having been selected from 20,000 applicants.

``My PhD research, supervised by Dr Sarah Masters, is concerned with determining the structures of molecules that only exist for very short periods of time,’’ Atkinson says.

``Using all of this information, a bit like a detective, the structure and identity of the molecule in question is deduced. My research provides information for other scientists to apply within their work, understanding their chemical reactions which are crucial in so many areas of life - drug design, invention of new materials, food safety, fuels and microelectronics.’’


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