Summer School 2018


Dial-a-Molecule Enabling Technologies Summer School 2018


When: 30th July – 3rd August 2018

Where: University of Loughborough

Report:  A total of 24 PhD students from 18 different institutions gathered at Loughborough University’s STEMLab facility on 30thJuly ready to spend the week at the first Dial-a-Molecule Summer School.

After getting to know one another over lunch, the summer school began with an introduction to statistical Design of Experiments (DoE). The first evening was spent putting the lessons into practice by designing and making paper helicopters, whilst enjoying a beverage.

Next, it was on to learning about flow chemistry, before spending time in the lab putting the DoE and the flow chemistry together, with 6 groups each running an 18 experiment design. HPLC samples were run overnight so the chromatograms were ready for the following morning. Critically reviewing the data proved an important step, before using DoE software (together with chemical knowledge) in a hands-on session to analyse, visualise and draw conclusions from the results.

The experiment used readily available kit (tubing and syringe pumps, with offline sampling) however during the week the participants were also shown more sophisticated automated equipment together with options for on-line monitoring using IR, NMR or UV. The importance of both DoE and real-time analytics was reinforced using case studies from industry illustrating the depth of process understanding and control that can be gained.

An overview of the different methods of 3D printing (or, more accurately, additive manufacturing) was followed by a session in the computer room introducing CAD software, allowing the students to come up with their own designs for printing. 3D Printers were then seen in action, making an exclusive memento for everyone to take away!

The final topic of the Summer School covered novel reactor technologies. This included the use of interactive apps to show how different permutations of flow reactors affect residence time. An overview of the different types and fabrication of laboratory reactors was used to demonstrate how reactor design can be tailored to chemical transformations.

The Summer School was lively and interactive, with all the students being highly engaged – we hope to run a similar school in 2019.

We would like to thank all the presenters: Brian Taylor (AstraZeneca), Dan Tray and Ali Saleemi (GSK), Andy Capel and Paul Roach (University of Loughborough) and Nik Kapur (University of Leeds) and the equipment suppliers who gave demos: HEL, Advion and Uniqsis. We also thank RSC Organic Division for a scientific meetings grant in support of this event.

And finally, a very big vote of thanks to the fantastic team at the STEMLab (Jayden, Eleanor, Rob and Colum). Without them this Summer School could not have taken place.

Gill Smith, Steve Christie, Rich Bourne and Anna Slater


We thank  the Royal Society of Chemistry Organic Division for supporting this event.