Skip to main content

This news post is more than 1 year old

Watch the Kathleen Lonsdale RIA Chemistry Prize 2023

Dr Chunchun Li is awarded the Kathleen Lonsdale RIA Chemistry Prize for best chemistry PhD thesis in Ireland at a ceremony at the Royal Irish Academy on Thursday 11 May. The prize was awarded in an in-person ceremony for the first time since 2020.

The Kathleen Lonsdale RIA Chemistry Prize 2023 was awarded to Queen’s University, Belfast PhD student Dr Chunchun Li for research into understanding and controlling the surface properties of nanomaterials

Dr Chunchun Li, a recent PhD graduate of Queen’s University Belfast, has been awarded the 2023 Kathleen Lonsdale RIA Chemistry Prize. This prestigious prize is named in honour of the famous Irish x-ray crystallographer Kathleen Lonsdale.

Dr Li’s PhD research focused on understanding and controlling the surface properties of nanomaterials. Understanding how the surfaces of nanomaterials interact with the environment and chemical substances in the environment is key to designing nanomaterials for use in applications such as sensing and catalysis. The principal technique Dr Li used to understand and control nanosurfaces was surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) which can give useful information on interactions on nanomaterials’ surfaces. Dr Li showed that the nanomaterials she developed could be used for SERS sensing for pollutants, pharmaceuticals and illegal drugs. The new discoveries in her research allowed her to build sensors with enormously enhanced performance for therapeutic monitoring of anticancer drugs. The technique is suitable for a wide variety of monitoring applications for in situ water, environmental and biological analysis. Dr Li described her reaction to the news that she had been selected for the Kathleen Lonsdale RIA Chemistry Prize 2022:

I am very excited and honoured to receive the prestigious Kathleen Lonsdale Prize from the Royal Irish Academy. I first heard of the prize in the second year of my PhD.At the time I also learnt about Dr Kathleen Lonsdale, who became one of my inspirations as a woman in science. Therefore, being awarded this prize is extremely special to me, since it is not only a testament to my efforts during my PhD but also a huge confidence boost for me to continue to pursue even bigger goals in my research in the future.

The Royal Irish Academy works each year with the expert members of the Physical, Chemistry and Mathematical committee to select a winner based on the most outstanding Irish PhD thesis in the general area of the chemical sciences.
The prize, kindly sponsored by Henkel, includes an award of €2,000. The winner will also be nominated by the Physical, Chemical and Mathematical Sciences Committee to compete amongst the top young chemists in the world in the IUPAC-SOLVAY International Award for Young Chemists.