University Of Nottingham experts win prestigious research and innovation awards

Two University of Nottingham researchers are celebrating national success after receiving awards from the Royal Society of Chemistry in recognition of their research achievements.

Dr Andrea Laybourn, Assistant Professor in Chemical and Environmental Engineering and member of the Advanced Materials Research Group has been awarded the Barrer Award, a triennial prize that recognises significant work in the field of porous materials.

Dr Laybourn specialises in tailoring and making porous materials using microwave technologies, which have the advantage of allowing specific components to be heated within reaction mixtures producing materials of higher quality and in a more sustainable manner.

Porous materials act like sponges and adsorb different guest molecules, such as gases. Andrea studies how flow microwave heating can be used to enhance guest uptake. As this research can be applied to a wide variety of sectors, Andrea is involved in a plethora of projects at the university across different industries, including healthcare technologies, pollutant remediation, and thermochemical energy – to name a few.

She said: “Although the news is still sinking in, I’m absolutely delighted to have won this award and feel honoured that my work has been considered worthy of such an accolade. In previous years, this award has gone to a lot of people that I personally admire who have gone on to make significant strides in this area of research, so to join their ranks is a rather surreal experience”

Andrea Laybourn
I am extremely grateful to the other researchers in the group and to my collaborators and mentors, it is a privilege to work with such excellent and supportive people.
Dr Andrea Laybourn
This is Andrea’s second time winning a Royal Society of Chemistry prize, as she’s part of the Porous Materials Group (PMG) that won 2021’s Inspirational Committee Award. The PMG aims to bring together scientists from all career stages involved in research into porous materials and to foster links between academia and industry. The group hosted a series of online conferences throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, attracting hundreds of registrants from more than 30 countries, as well as 60 speakers from across the globe.

PhD researcher Tien Thuy Quach has received the Inspirational Member Award 2023 for her dedication to supporting the Particle Characterisation Group in organising the FORGE Conference, being instrumental in its success regarding engagement, marketing, and sustainability.

Tien Thuy Quach’s volunteering with the RSC’s Particle Characterisation Interest Group (PCIG) led her to take on a coordinator-speaker role for the FORGE Conference 2022. As well as supporting the marketing and logistics of the conference, she also chaired a session and engaged with professionals and students from academia and industry. She is now a committee member of the group.

Tien Thuy Quach
The Particle Characterisation Interest Group (PCIG) is a supportive environment for my personal and professional transformation. Without the trust and love of great colleagues there, I couldn’t have sufficient confidence to challenge myself in different roles and approaches to make things happen.
Tien Thuy Quach, PhD Researcher
The Royal Society of Chemistry’s prizes have recognised excellence in the chemical sciences for more than 150 years. The Research and Innovation Prizes celebrate brilliant individuals across industry and academia. They include prizes for those at different career stages in general chemistry and for those working in specific fields, as well as interdisciplinary prizes and prizes for those in specific roles.

Dr Helen Pain, Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry, said: “The chemical sciences are at the forefront of tackling a range of challenges facing our world. From fundamental chemistry to cutting-edge innovations, the work that chemical scientists do has an important role to play in building our future.”

The RSC’s prizes programme enables us to reflect on and celebrate the incredible individuals and teams whose brilliance enriches our knowledge, advances our understanding, and brings new ideas and technologies that benefit society as a whole. We’re very proud to recognise the contributions of our winners today.
Dr Helen Pain, Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry