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National chemistry conference showcases King’s legacy of excellence

Jun 08, 2018

Canada’s premier conference on chemistry, held in Edmonton last week, had a distinct King’s flavour.

More than 15 King’s students, alumni, and faculty attended and presented their research at the 101st Canadian Chemistry Conference & Exhibition held at the Shaw Conference Centre from May 27 to 31. With attendance around 2,200 people, this is Canada’s largest chemistry conference, connecting Canadian and international scientists from academia, industry, and government labs.  

King’s students who presented research included the following:

  • Fourth year student Danny Krol presented his research on Air and Water Sensors, a project carried out in collaboration with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). This project focuses on monitoring air and water pollutants, primarily through building cheap sensors to deploy in developing countries and to use as educational tools.
  • Fourth year student Amanda Ciezki and second year student Theodosia Babej presented their investigations into the development of synthetic rubber and catalytic systems that enable efficient de-polymerization and recycling of the rubber.
  • Second year student Luke Greidanus along with Luke Vanderwekken, who graduated this spring, presented on the isolation of undecaprenol from the leaves of sumac trees. This substance plays a key role in the cell wall of bacteria and is an attractive target in the development of new antibiotics.  
  • Third year student Angelle Britton and Sarah Vander Ende, who graduated this past spring, presented on their work that examined the role of different genes in the production of, and immunity towards, a bacterially-produced antibiotic called carnobacteriocin XY.

In addition, several King’s alumni, who have either completed or are in the process of completing graduate work in chemistry, presented exciting research in a variety of areas.

  • Nathaniel Martin, a professor of chemistry in the Department of Chemical Biology & Drug Discovery at Utrech University in Netherlands, described the work being done by his research group to develop new antibiotics and the ways in which they study the mode of action of these compounds.
  • Michael Schuurman, group leader for the Theory and Computation Group at the National Research Council in Ottawa and an adjunct professor of chemistry at the University of Ottawa, presented his research on the uses and applications of quantum dynamical simulations carried out in concert with time-resolved spectroscopies.
  • The work of Jesse VanderVeen on the development of green methods in chemistry was presented by his PhD research supervisor, Dr. Philip Jessop. Jesse recently completed his PhD in chemistry from Queens University.
  • Cassidy Vanderschee, who is pursuing her PhD in chemistry at McGill University, described her work on the detection of various tungsten species in bone and its implications in toxicity.
  • Three other alum, Mckenzie Oliver, Alyxandra Thiessen, and Ian Vander Meulen, who are enrolled in graduate programs at the University of Alberta, gave presentations on a broad range of topics including solubility issues for tellurium oxides, the functionalization of silicon nanocrystals, and the development of techniques to characterize pollutants in tailings pond water.

Professor Peter Mahaffy pulled this large King’s chemistry cohort of 18 people together for lunch to celebrate, as he called it, a “legacy of excellence” for the university.

Kristopher Ooms, Dean of Natural Sciences, reflected on the number of King’s students and alumni participating in the national conference. “Our students are set up incredibly well with their liberal arts degree to go on to compete with and surpass students with degrees from larger institutions. The number and success of our students in grad schools speaks volumes.”

Congratulations to all our students and alumni who presented research!

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