The SSG supports a number of awards and prizes for early-career researchers as well as established separations scientists. These include several recurring awards including:
- Best poster prize at the annual International Symposia on Advances in Extraction Technologies (ExTech) meetings
- Best student presentation at the London Biological Mass Spectrometry Discussion Group (LBMSDG) meetings
ExTech Best Poster Prize
In 2006, the SSG launched a prize for the best poster presented at an International Symposium on Advances in Extraction Technologies (ExTech) meeting. This symposium series was started in 1999 by Prof. Janusz Pawliszyn (the University of Waterloo, Canada) and since then has become a unique and vital platform for the exchange of information and ideas in the growing field of sample preparation.
In 2017, the 19th ExTech meeting took place between the 27th and 30th of June in the historic Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela, and the SSG awarded three prizes (£200 each) for the best posters presented by junior scientists. An international committee judged more than 200 high-quality poster presentations, on topics including new extraction techniques, environmental sampling and sample preparation, bioanalytical extractions,and food and flavour analysis. Three posters were selected for the 2017 SSG award on the basis of their outstanding scientific content and presentation in the poster format:
- Joana Carvalho’s poster on the Optimisation of a DNA purification protocol by micro-scale solid phase micro-extraction and microfluidics for food products on a washable and reusable device. Ms Carvalho is currently a PhD student, working on the development of a micro-Total Analysis System for food and environmental analysis at the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory (INL) in Braga (Portugal), in collaboration with the University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain).
- Emanuela Gionfriddo’s poster on the Coupling solid phase micro-extraction to complementary separation platforms for metabotyping of E Coli metabolome in response to natural antibacterial agents. Dr Gionfriddo is currently a Research Associate in Prof Janusz Pawliszyn’s group and manager of the gas chromatography section of the Industrially Focused Analytical Research Laboratory (InFAReL) at the University of Waterloo (Canada).
- Priscilla Porto Figueira from the University of Madeira, Portugal, for her poster on Micro-speed: A new and powerful micro-extraction in food analysis – Isolation of phenolic compounds in teas as a case study
Congratulations to our prize-winners! And we hope to see many more excellent posters at next year’s ExTech meeting, which will be held in Ames, Iowa (USA) in June 2018. See you there!
Best poster prize: awarded to Meral Karaca (Izmir Institute of Technology, Izmir, Turkey) for his poster titled on ‘Solid Phase Micro Extraction (SPME) of Flavonoids’
Best Sep Sci Poster: Lauren Hymns (Quotient Bioresearch) – ‘Multiple analytes, multiple hurdles – Balancing the requirements of three analytes in a single bioanalytical assay’
Best Sep Sci Bright Spark presentation: Asta Petursdottir (University of Aberdeen) – ‘Post column hydride generation coupled to ICP-MS as a selective and sensitive method for the determination of inorganic arsenic in seafood’
Best poster prize: awarded to Elbaleeq Adam (School of Chemical Sciences, Universitiy Sains Malaysia, Malaysia) for his poster on ‘Eggshell membrane as sorbent material for the extraction of biogenic amines in food samples’
London Biological Mass Spectrometry Discussion Group – Best Student Presentation
Since 2015, the SSG and the London Biological Mass Spectrometry Discussion Group (LBMSDG) have awarded an annual prize of £400 for the best student presentation at one of the LBMSDG’s quarterly meetings. To be eligible for the prize you must be currently a student (part or full time) or have completed your studies within six months of submitting an abstract. The award is to be spent on expenses related to travel and accommodation costs at a conference of the student’s choosing. The award-winner is selected at the end of each year, when the LBMSDG committee reviews the presentations from each of the meetings, and the winner is announced at the March meeting of the LBMSDG.
The prize for the best student talk of 2017 was awarded to Ms Zainab Ahdash, of King’s College London, for her talk entitled Dissecting the mechanism of the HerA-NurA DNA break resection complex using native mass spectrometry, which she presented at the September 2017 LBMSDG meeting.
The talk covered some of the work Zainab has been doing during her PhD project to understand the assembly mechanism of the HerA-NurA helicase-nuclease DNA end resection complex using native mass spectrometry. The main points covered in the presentation were based on her most exciting findings. She explained how native mass spectrometry was combined with electron microscopy, molecular dynamics simulations and biochemical analyses to understanding the mechanism of HerA oligomer formation and nucleotide binding to HerA-NurA. For the first time she showed that the ATP-free HerA and HerA-DNA complexes predominantly exist in solution as a heptamer, and acts as a DNA loading intermediate. She described how she studied the role of ATP in DNA translocation and processing through measuring nucleotide interaction with the HerA-NurA complex. The presentation was concluded with a proposed stepwise assembly mechanism which detailed the synergistic activation of HerA-NurA by ATP, which allows efficient processing of double-stranded DNA. Her findings may serve as a model for DNA end resection in eukaryotes.
The awards committee agreed that Zainab should be given the prize as her presentation was interesting, delivered very clearly and showed the power of combining a specialised mass spectrometry technique with other methods to understand the structure and biology of an important protein complex. She engaged the audience and was able to answer the questions well. Congratulations Zainab on an excellent presentation and thanks for sharing some thought-provoking findings!
The prize for best student talk in 2016 was awarded to Dr Heidi Gastall, from UCB Celltech (UK). Dr Gastall’s presentation described her doctoral research on small heat shock protein 27 (HSP27), which protects the cell under stress by interacting with partially folded protein substrates, and which is implicated in a wide range of diseases from Parkinson’s to cancer. In particular, the talk focused on her use of native MS and ion-mobility MS to probe the conformational dynamics of the protein’s core domain, and the influence of disease-related mutations on structural features related to the regulation of the protein’s protective response. A more detailed description of her work can be found here. Dr Gastall used the prize money to attend the first International Conference on Hydrogen Deuterium Exchange MS at AstraZeneca in Sweden, and says that ‘the conference gave a very helpful overview of how the technique is applied by different practitioners in the community and technical advice on how to use it to its full potential’.
The prize for best student talk in 2015 was awarded to Kate Groves, from LGC.