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University of Warwick Student Wins Prestigious National Chemistry Prize

Originally Published 25 February 2004

Martin Beckett, a fourth year Chemistry student at the University of Warwick, is the winner of the prestigious Salters' Graduate Prize, worth £1,000, following a tough round of interviews with scientists and industry specialists.

The award is granted to students who show outstanding intellectual ability, and who demonstrate their potential to occupy leading positions in employment that supports UK industry, and who have the potential to lead the chemical industry of the future.

Martin is in his final year of a Masters of Chemistry (MChem) with Medicinal Chemistry degree at Warwick, and is looking at ways to help reduce environmental toxins.

He is working with enzymes (biological catalysts which speed up biochemical reactions in living cells) to remove PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), chemicals used in industrial processes, such as refrigeration, which stay in fatty tissue and milk, from the environment.

Martin's project centred on the study of enzymes involved in bio-degradation in soil bacteria, which can be used to clean up contaminated soil (e.g.following an oil spill) that contains toxins such as PCBs.

Martin Beckett, Chemistry Student at the University of Warwick, said: "I am delighted to win the award. I spent a year in the chemical industry as part of my degree, which will have given me the edge. Studying at Warwick has been an extremely stimulating an enjoyable experience. The labs are fitted with cutting-edge equipment, and the staff are tremendously open and helpful."

Employment prospects for Chemistry graduates are excellent. Martin who spent a year with GSK has already received one job offer from a large Pharmaceutical company, and another is currently trying to snap him up.

Every year, the Salters' Institute of Industrial Chemistry offers up to 10 prizes to final-year undergraduates studying Chemical Engineering or Chemistry at British universities

The prize of a £1,000 cheque, and a certificate of commendation will be at a prize giving ceremony on 9th December 2004. Further, the award qualifies Martin to enter the Jerwood prize once he enters industry, which, if he is successful, will gain him a further £10,000.

For more information contact: Jenny Murray, Press Officer, University of Warwick, Tel: 02476 574 255, Mobile: 07876 21 7740 or Martin Beckett, Mobile: 0773 440 5935.