Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - MISSION (Mineral surface science for nanotechnology)

The research focus of the MISSION early stage training (EST) programme was on understanding reaction mechanisms and structures of organic and biogenic molecules on mineral surfaces.

In a coordinated programme of projects we used a wide range of instrumental techniques with the aim of giving the EST researchers specific scientific and technological competencies and a thorough grounding and training in interdisciplinary nanoscience. We recruited widely, both geographically and disciplinarily. Our intake came from Greece, Italy, represented by two researchers, Austria, Germany, Hungary and the Czech Republic, with a gender balance of four women and three men. The Masters degree disciplines of our cohort of seven EST researchers included chemistry, environmental engineering, petrology and pharmaceutical biotechnology. This spread of educational backgrounds, an explicit focus on interdisciplinarity in the research topics and the support of a multi-disciplinary team of faculty staff, including physicists, chemists, surface scientists and earth scientists, produced a dynamic collaborative environment for the EST fellows to practice their research. With an emphasis on transnational and intersectoral mobility, this programme had two outcomes:

1. a broadening of the research base in basic nanoscience in line with European Union priorities and
2. the training of a body of young scientists uniquely equipped to meet the challenges of working in nanoscience.

The EST fellows benefitted from a wide variety of professional transferable skills training and, in addition, by specific technical training in techniques and experimental protocols. For their general professional skills training they:

1. gained communication skills through writing reports and academic papers, giving seminars, lectures and poster presentations both within the departments and at conferences
2. learned to effectively use state of the art information technology through use of the worldwide web, e-mail, international databases, electronic bibliographic sources and search engines, constructing and maintaining the MISSION web pages and video conferencing
3. learned research management by attending meetings of the MISSION management board
4. gained an understanding of safety and risk assessment and wider societal issues in science, nanoscience, etc.
5. obtained training in organisation of conferences through the holding of annual 'mini conferences'
6. obtained training in teaching undergraduates through demonstration in undergraduate laboratories and field work in Earth Sciences, as well as in assisting with final year undergraduate research projects, which played a vital role in training early stage researchers (ESRs) to pass on their acquired skills.

The following research projects were undertaken by the MISSION EST fellows, culminating in the award of a PhD qualification:

1. the bio-inorganic interface, i.e. the interaction of fungal hyphae with mineral surfaces
2. protein crystallisation on mineral surfaces
3. metal oxide nanofabricated structures for photocatalytic purification of water
4. photocatalytic reactions on Earth and Mars
6. microbial colonisation and degradation on mineral surfaces
6. hormone and organic molecule degradation on mineral surfaces
7. highly sensitive in situ surface stress measurements.

All projects received widespread coverage with the EST fellows presenting posters at major international conferences, such as the Goldschmidt Geochemistry conferences, the Materials Research Society meetings in the United States of America, the Geochemistry of the Earth's Surface and the Gordon conferences. The EST fellows presented 49 posters at conferences, workshops and other meetings. They gave 6 talks at conferences and 49 presentations at other meetings. In addition, they produced 12 peer reviewed articles, with at least another 10 in the preparation and submission process by the time of the project completion. By October 2010 three of the EST fellows had received PhD degrees, with four others at advanced stages of completion.

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United Kingdom
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