Association in Solution (II), 26-30 July 2009, Tomar, Portugal

The Rideal travel bursary I was awarded allowed me to attend the Association in Solution II (Structure Function & Performance) conference in Tomar, Portugal, (26-30 July 2009). The conference, organised by Engineering Conferences International, brought together approximately 60 delegates in a splendid and sunny location, and at an ideally suited venue to discuss recent scientific studies on the solution properties of colloidal systems.

The conference was structured around a diverse selection of talks in physics, physical chemistry, chemical engineering, materials science and theoretical aspects, covering areas including dispersions, drug delivery systems, polymers, surfactants and nanoparticles, from fundamental studies to industrial research. The programme was skilfully constructed, grouping talks on similar themes and allowing plenty of time for discussion of each paper both during the formal sessions and more informally afterwards during meals and coffee breaks. The moderate number of delegates facilitated engagement in open discussion after the talks, rather than 'question and answer' to only the speaker.

With all delegates staying in the same hotel, and the inclusion in the programme of daily social hours, there were many opportunities to meet with different people to discuss both specific research projects and more general aspects of life in academia. As a new academic starting out in these financially challenging times these discussions were particularly useful and somewhat reassuring!

It was excellent to have the opportunity to present the work of my first PhD student at this conference, for the first time at an international level and in front of an expert audience of colloid scientists. The paper presented (Uni-molecular Aggregation of Polymer-Drug Conjugates) builds on our first publications on small-angle neutron scattering from clinical polymer-drug conjugates, and it was important for me at this early stage to publicise and discuss this more fundamental work with fellow researchers in the field. The feedback I received was very useful, supportive and highly motivating, and I have made some useful contacts for future work.

I am extremely grateful for the award of a Rideal travel bursary. It was highly invigorating conference which I am sure will have long term career benefits. Without the support of the SCI it would not have been possible for me to make this trip.

Alison Paul
University of Cardiff

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