Fundraising marathon in memory of colleagues

banner_logoThe 24 Hour Inspire is returning for another marathon series of lectures in memory of two inspirational colleagues.

Between 5pm and on Thursday 16 April and 5pm the following day, there will be non-stop talks from dozens of lecturers in the Hicks Building, helping to raise money for worthy causes.

Talks will include ‘An insider’s guide to Wolf Hall’, ‘3,000 years of condoms’, ‘What bad novels can tell us about dialect’ and ‘God, what a brat!’

The 24 Hour Inspire was first held in 2013 in memory of Dr Tim Richardson from Physics and Astronomy, who passed away that year. A charity, Inspiration For Life, had been set up by Tim when he was diagnosed with cancer.

Dr Tim Richardson

Dr Tim Richardson

This year’s event will be held in memory of Tim, as well as Victoria Henshaw from Town and Regional Planning, who passed away last year.

Tickets will be available on the door for £2, or £7 including a programme, and all funds raised will go to Rotherham Hospice and Impact Young Heroes.

As well as the lectures, there will be refreshments and a cake sale plus live music. For the full programme, visit the Inspiration For Life website.

Inspiration For Life

Professional staff take home trophies from awards ceremony


Staff from across the Faculty of Science were honoured at the Sheffield Professional Awards.

At a ceremony in the Octagon Centre on Thursday (26 March) a total of 21 awards were given out across six categories.

The Molecular Biology and Biotechnology Undergraduate Teaching Laboratory Team: Mel Stapleton, Anne Holland, Sarah Noble, Tom Hill.

The Molecular Biology and Biotechnology Undergraduate Teaching Laboratory Team

The Molecular Biology and Biotechnology Undergraduate Teaching Laboratory Team of Mel Stapleton, Anne Holland, Sarah Noble and Tom Hill won the One Team award, for a team who are exceptional in the way they demonstrate the Sheffield Professional values and behaviours.

In three categories, six awards were given out: one for a member of staff from each Faculty, plus one for Professional Services. The winners and runners-up in Science were:

Melanie Simmonds-Buckley with her Professional Staff Member of the Year Award

Melanie Simmonds-Buckley with her award

Professional Staff Member of the Year

– WINNER: Melanie Simmonds-Buckley, IAPT Administrator, Psychology

– Claire Wilkinson, Projects Officer, Faculty of Science

– Sandrine Soubes, Researcher Development Manager, Faculty of Science

Playing Our Part – Valuing Everyone’s Contribution Award

– WINNER: Will Collier, PA to Head of Department, Biomedical Science

– Julie Fryer, PA to Head Of Department/Head of School, Physics and Astronomy/Mathematics and Statistics

– Sharon Keighley, Clinical Psychology Timetable Administrator and PGCert in Clinical Supervision Administrator, Clinical Psychology Unit, Psychology

Creating Knowledge Award

– WINNER: Sally Merrett, Student Support Adviser, Physics and Astronomy

– Neil Everill, Information and Learning Technology Officer, Biomedical Science

Marie Evans, Learning and Teaching Development Manager for Science in Learning and Teaching Services was winner of the Professional Services Playing Our Part Award.

The Sheffield Professional Awards

Sheffield Professionals

Work experience student wins national young scientist award

A secondary school student who did work experience in Biomedical Science has been named UK Young Scientist of the Year.

Sarah Sobka, who attends Sheffield High School, was given the award as part of the National Science and Engineering Competition at the annual Big Bang Fair in Birmingham.

During a four week placement, she helped examine Lubiprostone, a drug which is commonly used to treat women with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, to see if it could be used to treat cystic fibrosis.

She told the BBC: “I was a small part in a really big paper.

“But, every small step is important. The more we know the more help that gives us in synthesising new drugs.

“Every little bit of understanding helps.”


National Science and Engineering Competition

Researchers inspire next generation of scientists at Discovery Night

Families explored the weird and wonderful world of science as the University of Sheffield opened up its laboratories and lecture theatres for a hands-on evening of activities.

On Friday (13 March), Discovery Night welcomed visitors of all ages to exciting demonstrations and mini lectures from science, engineering, medicine and dentistry.

Visitors heard about quantum computing, saw inside a molecular biology lab and watch research robots and 3D printers in action. Budding scientists donned lab coats, tried some liquid nitrogen ice cream, met the skeletons in the Alfred Denny Museum and saw themselves in infra-red.

Held as part of the Festival of Science and Engineering, each year Discovery Night sees world-renowned researchers inspire the next generation of young scientists.

Discovery Night

Professor reaches 500th paper milestone

Stevearmes350Professor Steve Armes from Chemistry is celebrating a major academic milestone with the publication of his 500th paper.

The paper recently appeared online in the prestigious Journal of the American Chemical Society, and explores how the growth of microscopic hollow polymer particles takes place in water, and the process by which the particles are formed.

This work, and other recent research carried out by Steve and his research group, contributes to ground-breaking insights used for the development of technologies behind biomedical research; new hydrogels can be used as media for the long-term storage of human stem cells.

Steve’s research also contributes to the development of consumer products such as anti-reflective coatings for glass and plastics, thickeners for cosmetics and laundry products.

Steve, who joined our University in 2004 to take up a Chair in polymer and colloid chemistry, also recently received the 2014 Royal Society of Chemistry Interdisciplinary Prize for his outstanding contribution to the field of space science.

This award acknowledged his 17-year collaboration with space scientists based in the UK, Germany and the USA, which involves the design of various types of synthetic polymer particles that mimic the behaviour of fast-moving cosmic dust particles found in space.

Steve was also recently elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society and is currently the Director of the Sheffield Polymer Centre and Farapack Polymers, a successful University spin-out company.

In addition, he leads a new £7.16 million single-site Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Polymers, Soft Matter and Colloids at our University.


Find out more about Professor Armes’ work – visit his staff page

The Polymer Centre

Farapack Polymers

SALTS helping to shine spotlight on best tutorial practice

15476The University’s Student Ambassadors for Learning and Teaching (SALT) scheme provides students with the opportunity to influence and enhance learning and teaching in their Faculty, through a year-long project.

Below, Biomedical Science SALT Joanna Barry discusses the team’s current project to assess best practice for tutorials in Science

“This year the Faculty of Science SALT team are assisting in the enhancement of the current system of personal and academic development tutoring and support. We have been assessing the current tutorial system, which is diverse and varies between departments and within levels.

“The SALT team split into two groups to manage student surveys and focus groups. We conducted student focus groups within each department, and used these results to inform our survey questions. The survey assessed various aspects of tutorials including: expectations, atmosphere, content, group size and quantity of sessions. The surveys aimed to highlight both positives and negatives that exist with the current system. The survey obtained around 220 responses, which enabled us to conduct efficient qualitative and quantitative analysis of the data.

“As well as assessing student satisfaction with the tutorial system, we also thought it important to interview two-to-three tutors per department. These interviews provided an important insight into the current tutorial system from a tutor’s perspective.

“Data analysis is ongoing, but we aim to produce a report, E-newsletter and article outlining our findings and suggesting improvements. We hope to ultimately identify “best practice” suggestions, and feed this back to the Faculty of Science. We have organised a workshop event for tutors and Directors of Teaching from each department within the Faculty of Science, which will take place on Tuesday 14 April (please email for more information).

“We aim to take into consideration that ‘best practice’ within each department may differ. Our research will take into account the first-hand opinions of students and staff from each department, in the hope that suggestions can be pragmatically implemented by each department.”

Student Ambassadors for Learning and Teaching

Maths lecturers in the running for top teaching prize

A radical new approach to teaching mathematics has earned the School of Mathematics and Statistics a place in the shortlist for a major higher education award.

The School has been nominated for the Teaching Excellence prize at the Guardian University Awards 2015, which takes place on Wednesday 18 March.

Last year, lectures were scrapped in one of the engineering maths courses for first years. To replace them, staff developed 108 mini-lecture videos and online quizzes, plus 40 structured problem classes, using the same course notes and exercises as were used in the traditional lecture format.

An online discussion board was set up and the videos and tests were available through the Assessment in Mathematics (AiM) learning-environment developed largely by SoMaS staff.

Above, you can watch one of the mini-lecture videos featuring Dr Sam Marsh, who led the team which implemented the project after the idea was conceived by Dr Nick Gurski.

Guardian University Awards 2015

Students take early opportunity to boost their careers

IMG_0162Dozens of first year students went along to Mappin Hall yesterday (23 February) to find out about different work experience opportunties.

In total, 230 students from across the seven science departments went along to the Careers Service’s Work Experience: Science event to see what opportunities are available.

There, they could find out about different ways to put their scientific skills into practice while they study, for example, by doing a degree with employment experience or finding part-time work through the Student Jobshop.

The aim is top help students develop hands-on skills that will make them more employable when they graduate.

Staff can find out more about how to support students with employability at the Careers Service Conference taking place on Tuesday 10 March.

The theme of the conference is Developing learning opportunities outside of the University: a placement perspective and the keynote speakers include the Faculty of Science Director of Learning and Teaching, Professor Alistair Warren.

Careers Service Conference 2015

Careers Service

Cross-country cyclists tot up charity total


The team of University staff who cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats to help fund hearing research in Biomedical Science have revealed how much money they raised.

Students, postdocs, professors, lecturers, cleaners and administrative staff banded together to form Team SUFFER (or Sheffield University Fundraising For ‘Earing Research) in September.

The ten day challenge has raised a total of £43,808.25 from 1119 donations. Professor Tony Ryan, team leader and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Science, raised the biggest individual total of £9793.75.

Professors Matthew Holley and David Grundy from Biomedical Science, and Professor Alastair Goldman from Molecular Biology and Biotechnology also took part in the gruelling 10 day Deloitte Ride Across Britain.

Catch up on the Team SUFFER story on the Ride Across Britain blog

Deloitte Ride Across Britain 2014: Team SUFFER

Find out more about the Deloitte Ride Across Britain


Science researchers compete for policy prize


New researchers working in science found out how to apply their expertise to the political process by taking part in a University competition.

The University’s Science In Policy group organised a contest for interdisciplinary groups of postgraduate and early career researchers. They were tasked with producing a POSTnote: a four-page briefing document similar to ones produced by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology.

The winning team was made up of Elspeth Kenny from Animal and Plant Sciences, Katie Grayson from Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Sophie Turnbull from Psychology and Monica Ortiz from Geography. They were presented with a £500 cash prize by former Home Secretary, David Blunkett.

DSC_0928The Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough MP spoke at the prize-giving about his political career and experiences of policy-making. Each team taking part in the competition gave a five minute speed-presentation on the topic of their POSTnote and their experiences of writing it.

Social mobility and science education was the subject of the winning POSTnote. Dr Briony Norton (APS), Daniel Jenkinson (Chemistry), Ben Christmas (MBB), Dr Jonathan Perkin (Physics and Astronomy) and Stefano Golinelli (Politics) came in second place for their POSTnote on mobile health apps, and

Third prize was awarded to Stella Kritikou (Chemistry), Cesar Cruz (MBB), Rebecca Bright (Medicine) and Gaia Brezzo (Psychology). Their POSTnote was on Parkinson’s disease.

Science in Policy is run by a group of early-career researchers from the University of Sheffield. The group, founded in 2013, aims to foster increased understanding of the policy-making process and the ways in which scientists can impact policy, through an exciting programme of monthly seminars and events.

Science In Policy

Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology