Helen obtained an MSci degree from Queen Mary College, University of London (UK) in 2009. Helen undertook an EPSRC and GSK funded summer project with Dr Marina Resmini on molecularly imprinted polymers as a novel way of making the side chain of one of the most widely distributed statins. This involved synthesising and imprint polymers with a suitable template, testing them against a variety of substrates to synthesise the 2,4-pentadione via aldol reaction. She was awarded Marie Curie funding to attend a NASCENT Physical chemistry Winter School in Warsaw with the Resmini group. Her master’s project under the supervision of Professor Adrian Dobbs and in collaboration with Homerton hospital to improve the synthesis of the trans isomer of Vitamin D3 for use as an analytical standard, as well as investigation into its use as a potential medical indicator and supplement.
Helen was part of the first cohort of the University of Bristol Chemical synthesis Centre for Doctoral training (BSC CDT). This was a new initiative set up with the EPSRC and industrial sponsors to create PhD students who had undertaken a wider range of chemistry and chemical techniques. The first year involved three 8 week research broadening sabbaticals in an attempt to prevent early career super-specialisation: Dr Chris Adams on solid-state coordination chemistry, Professor Guy Lloyd-Jones on mechanistic organocatalysis using deuterium labelling and Professor Paul Pringle on phosphine ligand synthesis. Helen chose a PhD project with Professors Duncan Wass and Paul Pringle based on design of diphosphoamine ligands and their application in catalysis.
During her PhD, Helen was involved in a substantial amount of lab demonstrating, teaching undergraduates how to use a wide variety of laboratory equipment and apply their theoretical knowledge to their chosen experiments. She was subsequently recruited to demonstrate at summer schools for the Open University and GSK year in industry students. She also ran foundation level chemistry tutorials non-native English peaking students as well as graduate students hoping to study science and medicine in the UK.
Helen spent 9 months working at Sheffield Hallam University setting up practical classes, demonstrating to chemistry undergraduates and pharmaceutical science masters students as well as writing undergraduate practical courses and running electron ionisation mass spectrometry service (EIMS).Helen has been a STEM ambassador for 7 years in Bristol, Sheffield and now London. She has given careers talks, run science week events and skyped into lessons all over the UK. She is working to create resources for teachers and more Outreach events run by King’s College London.
Phosphine ligand design, in particular bioinorganic diphospoamine ligands, and their application in catalysis. Constructive alignment: creating assessment that is both probing and appropriate with respect to the described learning outcomes. Improving engagement of students with assessment criteria.