Rideal Travel Bursary Recipient Filip Kunc reports from Sitges, Spain

14 Apr 2015

Filip Kunc was awarded an SCI/RSC Rideal Travel Bursary in 2014. Here he reports on his participation at the Fourth International Conference on Multifunctional, Hybrid and Nanomaterials (Hybrid Materials 2015).

'The Multifunctional, Hybrid and Nanomaterials conference was organised by Elsevier and held at Meliá Hotel Congress Centre in Sitges from 9-13 March 2015. The meeting was chaired by Prof Rumen Duhlev (Elsevier Oxford, UK) and brought together researchers in nanoscience from world- leading institutions. The presentations encompassed a broad range of disciplines, including physics, chemistry, biology and engineering, and reflected the true multidisciplinary nature of science at the nanoscale. Each day was divided into three symposia with 5 parallel sessions.

'The scale of the conference was massive, it was attended by approximately 1200 people and all talks were located across five theatres, one of which could accommodate all participants during the plenary sessions. I felt this allowed for attendees to focus on their interests and choose the talks most related to their research. Having participated in smaller meetings before, I have found that though the quality of talks may be high, not all presentations match my research interests. However Hybrid Materials 2015 offered such a great number of presenting researchers, that I could always choose an interesting session. This allowed me to make the most of each day and therefore led to an extremely fruitful conference experience.

'My research is focused on the use of nanomaterials in health and I could find many speakers from this field who presented high-impact research. For example Dr Jeffery Brinker from the University of New Mexico discussed how mesoporous silica nanoparticles combined with lipid bilayers can be used for DNA and small-drug delivery. A similar approach was presented by Dr Stefan Wuttke from University of Munich; his presentation was particularly inspirational because of the attention to detail he showed during the characterisation and presentation of his data, and gave me an excellent demonstration of how best to precisely carry out my work. I also found the presentation and later face-to-face talk with Prof Michael Fröba, from the University of Hamburg helpful. He has vast experience with periodic mesoporous organosilicas (PMO) and advised me on some practical issues regarding different types of organosilicates which I currently use in my research. Overall, each talk was fascinating and it was clear that the plenary and contributing speakers were not only excellent researchers, but also top class communicators.

'There were three poster exhibitions during the conference, each of which was broken into two sessions. Each researcher presented their research during one exhibition (over two sessions). The ample presentation time offered me an excellent opportunity to showcase my own research and network with my peers. Having now reflected on my time at the conference, I feel my communications skills, and my confidence in presenting, have been greatly enhanced. My poster was entitled ‘Smart Biomolecule-coated Nanoparticles’ and focused on the problematics of attachment of bioactive molecules like enzymes or antibodies to the surface of silica nanoparticles employing a method known as molecular imprinting. Biomolecules immobilised on the surface of nanoparticles with the right orientation would maintain their natural biological function. This would amplify the ultimate performance of such biomolecule-coated silica nanoparticles used in medicinal applications like diagnostics, or drug delivery.

'On the whole, The Multifunctional, Hybrid and Nanomaterials conference was an excellent meeting that was full of exciting speakers which encouraged me to persevere with my research with further commitment and precision. I was very pleased when I discovered that there are many people willing to help and collaborate with me and the quality of my work can be increased.  

'I would like to thank SCI, in particular SCI-RSC Rideal Trust for the financial contribution which allowed me to register for this event'.

Filip Kunc, PhD student at Medway School of Pharmacy, Universities of Greenwich and Kent

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