Oxford Science Shines with Awards

Being at one of the best universities in the country, let alone the world, has its perks, and several awards to boot. The Science and Technology section would like to congratulate the following for their remarkable achievements.

Professor Fraser Armstrong FRS was awarded the Davy Medal in 2012 for his pioneering protein film electrochemistry allowing exquisite thermodynamic and kinetic control of redox enzymes, exemplified by hydrogenases, key in energy technology/The Royal Society

Oxford chemists Professor Fraser Armstrong and Professor Frances Ashcroft have been recognised by the Royal Society in this year’s Awards, Medals and Lectures. Professor Armstrong received the Davy Medal for his pioneering work with protein film electrochemistry, specifically metal centres in enzymes such as hydrogenases. This research could help the eventual development of microorganisms that can be farmed to produce hydrogen from sunlight via photosynthesis, and thus allowing it to be a much more viable resource of sustainability. Professor Frances Ashcroft, a Royal society research professor at the University of Oxford, and author of The Spark of Life has been awarded the Croonian Lecture for her work on finding the link between an increase in blood sugar level when you eat a chocolate bar to the following secretion of insulin. By unravelling the genetic mutations in a particular protein that is behind a rare genetic condition known as neonatal diabetes ( where patients develop diabetes very soon after birth), she has enabled many patients with this condition to switch to a better form a of medication.

Members of the biological physics group, with colleagues from the Centre for Mechanochemical Cell Biology at the University of Warwick, presented their research at the Royal Society Summer exhibition. The research is focused around biological Nano scale transport and spanned naturally occurring motors such as kinesin and the bacterial flagellar motor, to building synthetic motors from DNA. Their “Mini Motors” stall was well received, granting over 11,000 visitors the opportunity to use optical tweezes to trap E.coli, track cellular motor proteins, experience swimming through water as a small bacterium and play Escape the Cell. The stand will be making a reappearance in the Clarendon Laboratory on the 15th of September 2012 for the Alumni Weekend.

Dr. Yulin Chen (Department of Physics, the University of Oxford) is one of two winners of the 2012 Outstanding Young Researcher Award (Macronix Prize) of the International Organization of Chinese Physicists and Astronomers (OCPA).His research area is that of condensed matter physics and understanding the behaviour of electrons in more unconventional materials. His award came with the  following citation: “For his pioneering contribution in advancing our knowledge of topological insulators using angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy, for the realization of the topological insulating state of Bi2Te3, and the discovery of the massive topological surface state in magnetically doped topological Bi2Se3.”