Prizes for two Darwin scientists at STEM for Britain

Two Darwin students have received medals at STEM for Britain, a major scientific poster competition organised by the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee. The competition and exhibition has been held in Parliament every year since 1997, and aims to provide Members of both Houses with an insight into the outstanding work conducted by early-career researchers at universities throughout the UK.

Bea Jones, a third-year PhD student in the Photoactive Materials group at the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy, was awarded the Roscoe Medal (Gold prize) for Chemistry. Bea presented a poster, “Controlling Molecular Delivery by Squeezing Liquid Crystal Dispersions with Light”, based on her research developing light-responsive particles. The particles can be triggered to release small molecules on demand, with the aim of using them for targeted drug release.

“The competition was a great opportunity to present my research to MPs and expert judges, with varying levels of scientific knowledge, as I’m used to talking to scientists all the time," she said. "It was definitely a shock to win the medal, but it has provided another spur of inspiration to carry on my research.”

Isabel Esain-Garcia, fourth-year PhD student in Medical Sciences at the Cancer Research UK Institute and Department of Chemistry won the Physiological Society Prize in Biological and Biomedical Sciences. Her poster, "Regulation of cancer genes in the human genome by engineering DNA structure" was awarded the prize to recognise research that stands out for being novel, robust and important. 

"Being selected as one of the finalists and having the chance to present my discoveries in front of MPs and members of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee was an incredibly inspiring experience," she said.

"It definitely made me think about how the work I do fits into the wider scientific community and how fundamental being able to communicate the key findings to a broad audience is.  Seeing how progress can be driven on different levels, from a laboratory bench to influencing science policy-making, really inspired me to continue working hard and strive to take us closer to a future of precision medicine tools."