After completing the registration and accommodation requirements, the next day, my supervisor introduced me to everyone and showed me the different equipment in the SMS laboratory.
I had to learn about all of the experimental techniques of measurement such as Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC), TG-DSC, Ex-Situ & In-Situ XRDP, Polarimetry, NMR and an efficiency and sensitive technique, I am working with the Second Harmonic Generation (SHG) or the TR-SHG, which is the main tool of my research project.
My laboratory has a pretty extensive characterization technique for all kinds of compounds. SMS Laboratory research activities are essentially focused on the study of crystallization of low molecular weight organic compounds, mostly pharmaceutical compounds, but also energetic materials or semiconducting materials.
I am now starting to discover new methods of characterizations and analyses of all type of chemical products, and I should understand these recent technologies to perform the measurements. However, it was very easy to become independent, doing my own measurements, following the introduction from my Professors. Also my integration and my comprehension were not difficult because my colleagues and the Professors are very happy and motivated to explain to a beginner how to use the existing apparatus.
Before starting in the network, I found myself ill-prepared for organic chemistry – with hindsight, my lack of confidence was pretty natural, but at the time I was in the laboratory, I am feeling more confident to solve the scientific problems and to analyse the more complex phenomena. I am always trying to give some additional resources, especially concerning physical properties (since I hold a large background in this area) and I will continue to improve in my research.
I am on my way to understanding a great deal about the research and how far it can bring technology. In my view, research is like a performing art. No number of reading or attending workshops, conferences and others will prepare you for the challenge. You only get better with practice. By the end of my project, I hope I will make at least a small contribution to the research team in which I belong and for the benefit of CORE as a whole.
This is a small first contribution to the CORE blog and I hope to be more convincing for the next posts. Thank you and welcome to everyone for upcoming comments, likes and shares.
University of Rouen-France
Aliou is a PhD researcher at the SMS Laboratory – University of Rouen, France working under the supervision of Dr. Valérie Dupray, Dr Gabin Gbabode & Prof. Gérard Coquerel. His project work is to discover Conglomerate Forming Systems in Suspension using Second Harmonic Generation (SHG). He also works on Continuous Resolution by Diastereomeric Salt Formation for pure pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals. Aliou is one of the 15 Early Stage Researchers of CORE Network Horizon 2020.
As contributors of this blog, Aliou and Giuseppe are two of the 15 early stage scientists and engineers (ESRs) of CORE Network funded by Marie-Sklodowska Curie Action/ Horizon 2020. Briefly, CORE Network is a European Training Network which is looking for a challenge in the interdisciplinary and cross-sectional field of Continuous Resolution. January of this year – 2017 – our dream in research & technology were becoming true, when we were selected by the academic beneficiary partners respectively in University of Rouen, France and Radboud University, The Netherlands. We strongly believe in what the CORE could offer us: dedicated training programs through our research projects, network events, webinar courses, academic and industrial secondments and many more appealing tasks.
Getting back to the initial question, as part of this network, we are glad we have been given the opportunity to join the group of those whose answer would be “I tried”, but we are also sure that all the other ESRs (Early Stage Researchers) think the same. Clearly, when you first undertake a PhD project is not always easy to handle all the different paths research can take you, but when you face it together with 14 other people, things can be way easier. Since the CORE Network includes 8 different host institutions, you might legitimately think we never work together in a single location, close enough to share information on a daily basis, but you are wrong. And that’s what the twice-yearly meetings (Summer Schools and Workshops) are about.
As you previously read in the first blog contributions by Alex Cousen (if you did not yet, we invite you to do that, it is really worth reading) in the first week of July ’17 a Summer School took place in the stunning location which is the Dutch city of Nijmegen, at the Radboud University, and to be realistic it has been the first yearly event that involved all of the CORE members. Before going deeper into that, a thoughtful “thanks” goes to the organizers of this event: the Professors Elias Vlieg and Hugo Meekes, and the secretary Elizabeth Salem, whose contribution made the meeting a really good one. Now, coming back to it, this experience has been something extraordinary; high-quality lectures based on Chiral Crystallization, Resolution & Deracemization, held by excellent and talented Professors of the partner Universities, have clarified lot of aspects in our minds about the world of chirality within crystals. We were grateful we had the chance to attend great talks in many different subjects such as Continuous Resolution, Deracemization, Viedma Ripening, Thermodynamics, Phase Diagrams, Crystal Growth, and Preferential Crystallization. Furthermore, posters session gave us a first impression on everybody’s project at once and the meeting with the industrial partners has also helped us to understand who we were dealing with. Not only the academic side though has made this Summer School unique..
Indeed, how would it be possible to collaborate with people we do not get along with? The answer in this case is very easy: “It would not be possible at all”. That is the reason why everybody loved this meeting involving the participation for the first time of all of us ESRs. Outside the working hours, we spent lot of time together having dinners, in front of a delicious steak rather than a healthy salad, drinks, laughs and strolls around the outstanding city of Nijmegen. And we must admit that even though for some of us it was the very first time, the vibe was that positive that made us reflect how lucky we were. The Wednesday-afternoon visit at the Kröller-Müller museum (which by the way we truly recommend visiting), as a social activity, was also thought to be a pleasant break from the lectures and a good occasion to establish/reinforce our relationships. We felt already friends with each other, not only workmates.
ESRs in one picture: Italy, India, Japan, Lebanon, Hungary, Germany, Pakistan, Belgium & Senegal reunited in Nijmegen for the Summer School – July ’17.
Thinking back to those days, the first thought mixed with a sense of nostalgia is that probably one week was not enough, but on the other hand instead it inspires us to work hard to achieve more and more results to share at the next meeting in November ’17 in Romania. As you understood, the goal of this article was to describe the importance of collaboration and teamwork within a research network, and so we want to conclude with a tip. If you will ever have the chance to undertake a career which involves all of these skills, this is our opinion: go for it! There will always be more pros than cons, you will build relationships that eventually go beyond the 9-5 job and some of them can become real and true friendships. Of course, you also need a bit of luck, but if you do not try you will never know… And trust us, it is really worth being able one day to say “I tried”.
Giuseppe is a PhD researcher at the Radboud University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands, working under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Elias Vlieg, Prof. Dr. Floris Rutjes and Dr. Hugo Meekes, in the departments of Solid State Chemistry and Organic Chemistry. As part of the CORE Network, his PhD project is called “Viedma ripening-enabled chiral synthesis”. His research covers Viedma ripening and temperature cycling deracemizations of mainly pharmaceutical compounds, coupled with the use of specific additives to drive and speed up the process towards the formation of enantiopure products. He also focuses on discovering different racemization approaches and in the synthesis of new organic compounds, to somehow extend the applicability of the Viedma ripening technique.
Aliou is a PhD researcher at the SMS Laboratory – University of Rouen, France working under the supervision of Dr. Valérie Dupray, Dr Gabin Gbabode & Prof. Gérard Coquerel. His project work is to discover Conglomerate Forming Systems in Suspension using Second Harmonic Generation (SHG). He also works on Continuous Resolution by Diastereomeric Salt Formation for pure pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals.
Aliou is one of the 15 Early Stage Researchers of CORE Network Horizon 2020.
My journey to this fine city, however, was not one for leisure. I had come to study and, hopefully, begin to understand the Dutch perception of structural order. But not relating to the construction of their towns and metropolises. Instead, I had come to learn about the beauty and complexity of crystallisation and its application to the non-superimposable world of chiral molecules. My travels had brought me to Nijmegen to attend the CORE ITN Chiral Crystallisation Summer School at Radboud University, a distinguished institution where I hoped I could learn a thing or two that could be applied to my own research. The school promised an adventure to the heart of what chirality was, how the nucleation and growth of crystals could be controlled to allow for the separation of chiral entities and what robust and initiative methods were out there for use. I couldn’t wait to get started.
For readers perhaps not so entirely aware of the challenging area within which chiral separation resides, I will elaborate. Chirality is an important phenomena that occurs all around us. If you look at your hands, you should notice that they are essentially the same, but they are also opposite. Or, to look at it another way, they are mirror images that cannot be laid directly on top of each other (non-superimposable). This property is known as chirality and is particularly important for the molecular world. Many pharmaceutical materials are chiral and each mirror image can have profoundly different therapeutic properties, which can be sometimes beneficial, but can also have disastrous consequences, as seen in the infamous chiral problem of thalidomide. Whilst there are several methods that can allow for the separation of chiral molecules, crystallisation, when used and understood correctly, can be a robust and scalable process that can give exquisite results. It was in search of this understanding that had brought me across the channel.
I was staying in the centre of the Nijmegen, in a hotel called ‘Credible’, an interesting name that seemed to understate its superb location, friendly welcoming staff and excellent facilities (a recommendation if you ever happen to want to stay in the city). The hotel was a half an hour walk from the Huygens Building at the University, the venue for the school, and as a keen hiker, the obvious thing to really soak up my surroundings was to start the mornings with a stroll. What a pleasant place the Netherlands is. On every street there seemed to be a fresh bakery from which I could buy a morning selection of pastries, something that is unfortunately becoming rarer in modern Britain. Everyone greeted and chatted to each other in the streets and everyone; men, women and children, were on bikes! We could definitely learn from this at home. So every morning, full of baked goods and enlivened by the early amble, I found myself prepared for the week’s programme of crystallisation delights.
And what a programme of delights it was. The participants of the school consisted of students, researchers and industrialists from across the continent, all bringing their own areas of chiral expertise. We were treated to a range of talks from some of the big names in the area, covering thermodynamics, crystal nucleation and growth, preferential crystallisation, complementary separation techniques and the new and up and coming area of Viedma ripening. The school encouraged the exploration of new ideas and applications, collaborations and new opportunities, whilst building friendships, in many cases, whilst sampling one of the most famous Dutch pleasures, Beer! It really hit home the importance of chirality, something poignantly highlighted by a visit to the Krӧller-Müller Museum, famous for, amongst other things, its collection of Van Goghs. When one looks at the Needle Tower by Kenneth Snelson (1968), you see the complexity and beauty of chirality and begin to realise the challenges we face in trying to handle them.
I would like to thank all those who were involved in the organisation and delivery of this excellent school, with particular thanks to Elias Vlieg, Hugo Meekes and Elizabeth Salem. I encourage anyone who is researching in this area, or who has an interest, to go to this summer event. I found it extremely helpful and thought provoking. Hopefully you will too.
CMAC Future Manufacturing Hub – University of Bath
Alex is a PhD researcher based at the University of Bath, working with Prof. Chick Wilson as part of the EPSRC Future Manufacturing Hub in Continuous Manufacturing and Advanced Crystallisation. His research explores the development of novel multi-component materials with chiral molecules, exploring how different combinations of materials can alter physicochemical properties, with particular application to enhancing preferential crystallisation. He also works with polymorphic and stoichiometrically varied multi-component materials for application into continuous processing platforms. He is the Industrial Group Representative of the Young Crystallographers Group within the British Crystallographic Association (BCA) and is a keen advocate out many public engagement activities, particularly for the promotion of science.
MSCA Individual Fellowships - applications welcome
The MSCA CORE network welcomes expressions of interest from post-doctoral researchers who wish to apply for a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship and will provide support in developing their proposal. (deadline for expressions of interest 30 June 2017, closing date 14 September 2017)..... more
ESR, Francesca Breveglieri is runner up in the BACG2017 Poster Competition
We are extremely pleased to announce that Early Stage Researcher, Francesca Breveglieri based at ETH Zurich won the runner up prize in the BACG2017 Poster Competition..... more
CORE ITN Day at Summer School
7 July 2017
Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
This event is for CORE ITN members only..... more
ITN CORE and EFCE Summer School on Chiral Crystallisation, Resolution & Deracemization
3 – 6 July 2017 (followed by CORE ITN day on 7 July)
Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
The goal of this summer school is to outline the basics of chirality, crystallisation, resolution and deracemization. .... more