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Warwick chemists honoured by Royal Society of Chemisty

· Dr Józef Lewandowski from the University of Warwick is a Royal Society of Chemistry Marlow Award winner for 2016. Dr Lewandowski was born and raised in Ulhówek, a small town in Poland near the border with Ukraine.

Dr Lewandowski works on proteins, which he describes as: “like very small machines that accomplish numerous tasks in living organisms. To understand how they work, especially when we need to fix them, we have to learn about the structure of their parts as well as how these parts interact and move”.

He develops and applies methods based on a technique called solid-state NMR to uncover the secrets of structure and dynamics of proteins. Such knowledge can be used, for example, to come up with new treatments for diseases or to coax bacteria into making new useful molecules to be used, amongst other things, as medicines and pesticides.

The Marlow Award is given in recognition of “the most meritorious contributions to physical chemistry or chemical physics” and Dr Lewandowski receives £2,000, a medal and certificate, and will complete a UK lecture tour. He also receives a £3,000 R.A. Robinson Lectureship Bursary, for the purpose of giving a lecture in either Singapore, Malaysia, Australia or New Zealand in the next two years.

An illustrious list of 47 previous winners of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Awards have gone on to win Nobel Prizes for their pioneering work, including Harry Kroto, Fred Sanger and Linus Pauling.

Dr Lewandowski said: “I am very honoured to have been selected to receive the Marlow Award. I feel that this award acknowledges the importance of basic research in blazing trails and laying the foundation for new solutions to current and future societal challenges”.

Dr Robert Parker, chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry said: “It is an honour to recognise the illustrious achievements of our prize and award winners in our 175th anniversary year.

“We were founded in 1841 by a group of academics, industrialists and doctors who understood the power of the chemical sciences to change our world for the better. Our winners share that vision and are advancing excellence in their fields, whether through innovative research or inspirational teaching and outreach.

“We are proud to celebrate and support the work of inspiring and influential individuals, whose work has the potential to improve so many lives.”

Award winners are evaluated for the originality and impact of their research, as well as the quality of the results which can be shown in publications, patents, or even software. The awards also recognise the importance of teamwork across the chemical sciences, and the abilities of individuals to develop successful collaborations.

· Zoe Ayres, from the University of Warwick, is the Royal Society of Chemistry Ronald Belcher Award winner for 2016. She was born and raised in Hinckley, Leicestershire.

Zoe, who is currently completing a PhD, works to develop pH sensors, which are crucial to the chemical industry, where a small change in the pH of a solution can affect a whole chemical process. Commonly used glass sensors are fragile, so Zoe’s work has focused on investigating and exploiting the remarkable properties of boron doped diamond, the hardest material known to man, to make a robust, reliable pH sensor that can survive in conditions, such as a deep sea environment, where current technologies cannot.

The Ronald Belcher Award, established in 1985, is awarded for work on an analytical topic, by a current post-graduate student at a British or Irish University. Zoe receives £500 and a certificate.

An illustrious list of 47 previous winners of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Awards have gone on to win Nobel Prizes for their pioneering work, including Harry Kroto, Fred Sanger and Linus Pauling.

“I am extremely honoured to receive the Royal Society of Chemistry Ronald Belcher award and am looking forward to presenting my research in the future”, says Miss Ayres. “I would like to thank my work colleagues, sponsors (EPSRC and Element Six) as well as my supervisors Professors Julie Macpherson and Mark Newton for their support and guidance.”

Dr Robert Parker, chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry said: “It is an honour to recognise the illustrious achievements of our prize and award winners in our 175th anniversary year.

“We were founded in 1841 by a group of academics, industrialists and doctors who understood the power of the chemical sciences to change our world for the better. Our winners share that vision and are advancing excellence in their fields, whether through innovative research or inspirational teaching and outreach.

“We are proud to celebrate and support the work of inspiring and influential individuals, whose work has the potential to improve so many lives.”

· Professor Rachel O’Reilly, of the University of Warwick, is the Royal Society of Chemistry Gibson-Fawcett Award winner for 2016. She was born and raised in Holywood, County Down, Northern Ireland.

Rachel and her group are interested in designing, making and understanding polymeric materials with multiple functions for application in a range of industries including personal care, energy and defence.

She commented: “It is an honour to have been selected to receive the Royal Society of Chemistry’s 2016 Gibson Fawcett Award, especially given the strength of the materials research in the UK. I very much look forward to my lecture tour to share some highlights from my group’s research.”

The Gibson-Fawcett Award is to recognise original and independent contributions to materials chemistry. Rachel receives £2000, a medal and a certificate.

An illustrious list of 47 previous winners of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Awards have gone on to win Nobel Prizes for their pioneering work, including Harry Kroto, Fred Sanger and Linus Pauling.

Dr Robert Parker, chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry said: “It is an honour to recognise the illustrious achievements of our prize and award winners in our 175th anniversary year.

“We were founded in 1841 by a group of academics, industrialists and doctors who understood the power of the chemical sciences to change our world for the better. Our winners share that vision and are advancing excellence in their fields, whether through innovative research or inspirational teaching and outreach.

“We are proud to celebrate and support the work of inspiring and influential individuals, whose work has the potential to improve so many lives.”