EUCYS EuCheMS 2016
Christian Schärf, Paul Rathke, and Friedrich Wanierke, from Germany, are the winners of the 2016 European Union Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS) EuChEMS Award with their project entitled “Alpha-aluminium oxide-based gemstones: Development of a chemical synthesis process prompted by current mining conditions”.
Mining gemstones damages the environment and often occurs under dehumanising conditions. Christian Schärf, Paul Rathke and Friedrich Wanierke hypothesised that, because rubies and sapphires are a mixture of aluminium oxide and certain metals, it might be possible to produce the gemstones themselves. The trio experimented with various melting and crystallisation processes, and thoroughly analysed the synthesis progression and the powder particles and crystals that formed. The young researchers came to the conclusion that nature is a highly skilled chemist. They succeeded in creating tiny ruby monocrystals but the path to creating a large gemstone in the lab proved more difficult than anticipated.
EUCYS EuCheMS 2015
Michaela Kajšová, from the Czech Republic, is the winner of the 2015 EUCYS EuChEMS Special Prize with her project entitled “The Effect of Cholesterol on Biological Membranes”. EuCheMS interviewed Michaela shortly after she received this prize. This interview, where Michaela´s enthusiasm for research is evident, can be found here.
Mammalian cell membranes, thin borders on the surface of cells in the bodies, are responsible for molecular transport. The purpose of this project was to clarify the influence of cholesterol on different types of lipid membranes in atomistic details. M. Kajsova prepared bilayers composed of various types of lipids, differing in the percentage of present cholesterol. She monitored the system behavior for 200 ns using molecular dynamics simulations and then performed several analyses. All the membranes were more organised and less fluid after addition of cholesterol. The properties of the membrane differ depending on the lipid bilayer type. However, cholesterol reduces the differences and makes all the membranes almost similar, when the amount of cholesterol increases far above normal values.
EUCYS EuCheMS 2014
Congratulations to Thomas Andrew Morgan who won the EuCheMS special prize for best chemistry contribution at the European Union Contest for Young Scientists 2014 in Warsaw for his work on the effect of UV light on vitamin D2 concentration in oyster mushrooms.
Thomas A. Morgan investigation that shows oyster mushrooms have the potential to be enriched with vitamin D and could help address vitamin D deficiency which is linked to osteoporosis. Thomas investigated whether the concentration of ergocalciferol or vitamin D in oyster mushrooms changed when the mushroom were exposed to ultra violet light over different periods of time. Thomas grew oyster mushrooms for a long period and then exposed them to UV light. He also made an extensive search of literature, finding a spectrophotometer technique that he adapted and extended using a laboratory titration technique. His results showed a strong correlation between the length of time the mushrooms were exposed to UV light and their concentration of vitamin D.