Two NUI Galway Bachelor of Science students, Catherine McIntyre and Sinead Curran, recently completed summer studentships, carrying out work on undergraduate research projects at the University. The studentships have been funded by the Royal Society of Chemistry Analytical Chemistry Trust Fund (ACTF)
Catherine McIntyre worked in the group of Professor Dónal Leech, School of Chemistry, on research to develop alternate systems for monitoring the extent of carbonaceous waste in wastewater plants. During her undergraduate degree, Catherine from Naas, Co. Kildare, became interested in environmental chemistry, and the chemistry of the environment, and the summer studentship allowed the opportunity to gain firsthand experience in this area. Catherine worked on development of a novel system for monitoring biological oxygen demand (BOD) in wastewaters. Traditional BOD measures the amount of carbonaceous material in wastes that can be biologically degraded, and is therefore an important parameter for wastewater and water quality management and determinations take 5-7 days. Research by Catherine focused on growing microbial biofilms on electrode surfaces and using these to generate a signal related to BOD of wastewaters, to provide a more rapid means of monitoring BOD in the samples.
A native of Headford, Co. Galway, Sinead Curran worked with NUI Galway’s Dr Andrea Erxleben on the development and analysis of co-amorphous composites of the active pharmaceutical ingredient acyclovir with small-molecule excipients. The studentship has allowed Sinead to gain first research experience in pharmaceutical chemistry. Sinead worked on the development and analysis of co-amorphous composites of the antiviral drug acyclovir with small-molecule excipients. So-called composite amorphous systems, in which a more soluble form of a poorly soluble drug is stabilized, are a relatively new approach to overcome poor water solubility of therapeutics. Poor solubility in water is one of the major hurdles in drug development today. The summer project gave Sinead the opportunity to apply analytical techniques that she had studied in her analytical chemistry course module to a compound of pharmaceutical interest and to use the state-of-the-art analytical equipment in the School of Chemistry.
NUI Galway’s Professor Dónal Leech said: “The prestigious ACTF studentships were awarded to Sinead and Catherine, who have demonstrated excellence in their undergraduate Chemistry studies, to allow them have fun and expand their knowledge undertaking research in NUI Galway School of Chemistry research projects.”