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Introduction

Hi, I’m Kyla and I’m a first-year chemist. I’m from the Wirral, near Liverpool and I went to a state grammar school.

I love studying chemistry here because I get to cover a really wide range of topics with a good balance between breadth and depth. My course is very structured, which I find agrees with my learning style, as it makes it very easy to slip into a routine and manage the workload. I have ten lectures per week (a 9 am everyday sounded horrible at first, but now I’ve realised that it gets me up and gives me a productive start), one maths class, 12 hours of labs with one week off in every four and usually one or two tutorials. It sounds like a lot and that’s because it is – Chemistry is one of the degrees with the most contact hours. But if you really enjoy the subject and you’re a fan of structured learning, I think you really won’t find that to be a problem, because there’s still plenty of time to relax and do things you enjoy.

My tutorials are far more relaxed than I expected them to be at first and that’s down to the tutors themselves: they’re so friendly and helpful and I really know that they’re looking out for me. For chemists, we complete a problem sheet which we hand in before each tutorial and that forms the basis of the session. The tutors will mark the sheet and we go through it as a group; then we go deep into the topic and do some wider learning to give us a good understanding of what we’re covering. 

For me, the best thing about studying at Oxford is that you get to speak to people who are intensely interested in their subject and so you constantly have the opportunity to learn from really passionate people. Even if it’s a subject you’ve never thought about before, everyone is so enthusiastic that it’s hard not to feel permanently curious. I think the thing that surprised me most when I started was how much everybody likes to relax as well as work. I thought it would all be so intense all of the time, but everybody needs down-time and so there are always so many fun things to do of an evening and of a weekend. I’m not particularly productive in the evenings and I’ve found that I’ve only had to work past dinner a handful of times! Something cool that I’m part of is the SchoolsPlus initiative within the Oxford Hub (Oxford’s main source of volunteering opportunities). Every week, I go to a local primary school and help year one and year two students with their reading- it’s so rewarding and serves as a really adorable study break!

College experience

When I moved into Queen’s at the beginning of Freshers’ Week, I could immediately tell what a welcoming and inclusive community Queen’s had. All of the second-years who helped to unpack the car were so friendly and my College parents immediately hugged me and told me how excited they were to meet me! The collegiate system made making friends so much easier, because there was a small community of 101 Queen’s Freshers that I could get to know (kind of like having a school year), but then so many more people that I met through my course and extracurricular activities.

I hold the JCR (Junior Common Room) Exec position of Access and Outreach rep, so it’s my job to coordinate College tours, interviews, and to run online schemes like this to get people interested in applying! There was a time in my life when I couldn’t imagine fitting into Oxford at all and now it’s my home and I can’t think of a place I would rather be.

Advice for applicants

If you’re interviewing for Chemistry, my biggest piece of advice would be not to worry if you get asked something you don’t understand.  The interviewers are there to see you work through the problem and help you get to a solution! If you don’t know something, say something like “The reason I’m stuck is that…” and that’ll just help them to see what kind of problem-solver you are. In terms of preparation, I would recommend having a look at MOOCs on websites like Future Learn and downloading some of the HE+ exercises for some wider reading. Just get used to always asking ‘why?’ when you don’t feel you have a good grasp on something – that kind of inquisitive nature will serve you very well!

Admissions

The standard entrance requirement is now A*A*A with the two A*s in science/mathematics.

The course

The Chemistry course in Oxford consists of a single four-year course. Students can specialize in their preferred area(s) of chemistry by taking supplementary subjects in the second year and by choosing from a variety of options in the second half of the third year. One of the distinctive aspects of the course is that the fourth year is fully given over to carrying out a research project within a research groups selected by the student. This can be within the Department of Chemistry or in related laboratories, with the breadth of projects on offer spanning areas as diverse as theoretical chemistry, measurement and synthesis through to applications in chemical biology and medicine. A number of Queen’s students in recent years, for example, have worked on applications of chemistry in medical imaging with the research being based at the John Radcliffe Hospital site. Students typically find this part of the course particularly enjoyable.

Teaching

Teaching in Chemistry consists of lectures and practicals organized by the Chemistry department, and tutorials in Inorganic, Organic and Physical Chemistry and Maths (first year only) organized by the college tutors. For supplementary subjects and third year options, lectures are supported by departmental classes.

Interviews

Our selection process in Chemistry includes two interviews that are designed to assess a candidate’s potential for the course, taking all factors into account and not simply his or her current ability as reflected in examination results. In these interviews, the candidates should expect to be tested on their mathematical ability, as well as their understanding of chemistry. Many candidates will also receive one more interview at another college.

Courses

  • MChem Chemistry (4 years)


Introduction

I studied chemistry at the University of Durham (B.Sc., 1991 and Ph.D., 1994) and then spent some time as a postdoctoral researcher at the ETH in Zurich funded by a fellowship from the Royal Society. I returned to the UK to take up a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellowship at the University of Glasgow and was subsequently appointed as a Lecturer there. Following my marriage, I relocated to Manchester and worked part-time at UMIST, and subsequently the University of Manchester, as a Lecturer in Organic Chemistry and as the Outreach and Schools Liaison Officer for Chemistry until moving to Oxford in 2008.

Teaching

I am responsible for the teaching of organic chemistry to undergraduates studying towards chemistry or biochemistry degrees.

Research

My research interests have led to peer-reviewed papers in the fields of organic synthesis and peptide chemistry and biochemistry.

Introduction

After attending a state grammar school in London, I studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge University. After a year out doing voluntary work in Coventry, I returned to Cambridge to do a PhD in Theoretical Chemistry. Then, after two years as a post-doctoral researcher in Amsterdam, I again returned to Cambridge as a research fellow. In 2006, I was appointed to a lectureship in theoretical chemistry at Oxford and a Fellowship at Queen’s.

Teaching

I tutor the chemists at Queen’s in all aspects of physical chemistry. Currently, I also lecture as part of the first-year Mathematics for Chemistry course, and on statistical mechanics and biophysical chemistry.

Research

In my research I use computer simulation techniques to model soft condensed matter and biophysical systems. Currently, one particular focus is DNA nanotechnology, in which DNA is used as a self-assembling material to make nanoscale structures and devices.

You can find more details and a complete list of publications here.

Publications

  • M. N. van der Linden, J.P.K. Doye and A.A. Louis, Formation of dodecagonal quasicrystals in two-dimensional systems of patchy particles, J. Chem. Phys. 136, 054904 (2012)
  • T.E. Ouldridge, A.A. Louis and J.P.K. Doye, DNA nanotweezers studied with a coarse-grained model of DNA, Phys. Rev. Lett. 104, 178101 (2010)
  • I.G. Johnston, A.A. Louis and J.P.K. Doye, Modelling the self-assembly of virus capsids, J. Phys.: Condens. Matter 22, 104101 (2010)
  • G. Villar, A.W. Wilber, A.J. Williamson, P. Thiara, J.P.K. Doye, A.A. Louis, M.N. Jochum, A.C.F. Lewis and E.D. Levy, The self-assembly and evolution of homomeric protein complexes, Phys. Rev. Lett. 102, 118106 (2009)

Introduction

I went to school at the local comprehensive (Grove School, Market Drayton) and then studied for both by undergraduate and doctoral degrees in chemistry at Jesus College, Oxford. After seven years in Oxford, I then spent two years in the USA as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Notre Dame, and a brief period as a research fellow at Imperial College London, before getting my first academic post at Cardiff University in 1998. In 2007 I returned to Oxford to take up my current position at Queen’s.

Teaching

I teach the entire breadth of the core course in inorganic chemistry to first, second and third year undergraduates at Queen’s, together with option topics in spectroscopy and organometallic chemistry. I also typically supervise three or four Part 2 (fourth year) chemistry undergraduates during their laboratory projects, together with around six graduate (DPhil) students and two or three post-doctoral researchers.

Research

My research interests are broadly in organometallic chemistry – that is the chemistry of compounds featuring bonds between carbon and a metal. Much of the work of my research group in this area is focussed either on fundamental aspects (such as how to make new types of chemical bond and discover how they react) or on applications of new compounds to real world problems (such as the design of chemical sensors or catalysts).

Publications

  • The Group 13 Metals Aluminium, Gallium, Indium and Thallium: Chemical Patterns and Peculiarities Eds. S. Aldridge and A.J. Downs, Wiley, 2011.
  • AND/NOT Sensing of Fluoride and Cyanide by Ferrocene Derivatized Lewis Acids A.E.J. Broomsgrove, D. Addy, C. Bresner, I.A. Fallis, A.L. Thompson and S. Aldridge. Chemistry- a European Journal, 2008, 14, 7525-7529.
  • A Stable Two-Coordinate Acyclic Silylene A.V. Protchenko, K. Hassomal Birjkumar, D. Dange, A.D. Schwarz, D. Vidovic, C. Jones, N. Kaltsoyannis, P. Mountford and S. Aldridge. J. Am. Chem. Soc, 2012, 134, 6500-6503.
  • Cationic Terminal Gallylene Complexes by Halide Abstraction: Coordination Chemistry of a Valence Isoelectronic Analogue of CO and N2 N.D. Coombs, D. Vidovic, J.K. Day, A.L. Thompson, A. Stasch, W. Clegg, L. Russo, L. Male, M.B. Hursthouse, D.J. Willock and S. Aldridge J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2008, 130, 16111-16124.
  • Extending the chain: synthetic, structural and reaction chemistry of a BN allenylidene analogue J. Niemeyer, D.A. Addy, A.L. Thompson, M. Kelly and S. Aldridge. Angew. Chem., Int. Ed., 2011, 50, 8908-8911.

Biography

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Teaching

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Publications