Dr Priyanka Ganguly wins the Kathleen Lonsdale RIA Chemistry Prize 2022

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Dr Priyanka Ganguly, a recent PhD graduate of the Institute of Technology Sligo, has been awarded the 2022 Kathleen Lonsdale RIA Chemistry Prize for the best chemistry PhD thesis in Ireland. This prestigious prize is named in honour of the famous Irish x-ray crystallographer Kathleen Lonsdale and announced today 28 January to mark her birthday.

Dr Priyanka Ganguly’s winning PhD research was work towards solving two fundamental challenges of the 21st century: sustainable energy production and environmental remediation of pharmaceutical effluents and antimicrobial disinfection. Her experimental work included the synthesis of novel nanomaterials and exploring their use as photocatalysts for hydrogen generation, degradation reactions and antimicrobial disinfection under visible light.

Dr Ganguly is currently working as a Marie Curie Early-Stage Researcher at the University of Glasgow. She described her reaction to the news that she had been selected for the Kathleen Lonsdale RIA Chemistry Prize 2022:

“I am extremely delighted to be the awardee from such a prestigious institution. Being recognised with such awards helps you to gain confidence to do better in upcoming years. Moreover, challenging situations of pandemics have made me realise the importance of the science we do and the progress that we make each day for a better future. It is an extremely humbling experience to be recognised by such a prestigious institution as the Royal Irish Academy, as it recognises all the hard work being done to date. Representing IT Sligo, soon to be the Atlantic Technological University, is an honour and it also shows that world-class research can be done in emerging universities.”

Dr Ganguly’s PhD research was carried out at IT Sligo and was supervised by Professor Suresh Pillai and Dr Ailish Breen.

Supervisor at IT Sligo, Professor Suresh Pillai said Priyanka not only carried out incredibly complex research but also shared her passion of Science with many students across the northwest region:

“In addition to her outstanding research accomplishments, Priyanka has demonstrated significant commitment to supporting and promoting research within IT Sligo and in the in the North-West region through active participation in public engagement initiatives. She was an ambassador for our teaching and research programmes at IT Sligo. Priyanka has worked as a volunteer for the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Spectroscopy in a Suitcase scheme. This scheme provided leaving cert and high school students a hands-on opportunity to learn spectroscopic techniques (UV-Vis and FTIR). She has visited more than 20 different schools in the North-West region in the span of 18 months.”

Lecturer in Biopharmaceutical Engineering Science at IT Sligo, Dr Ailish Breen said she was proud to have mentored Dr Ganguly through her research:

“Priyanka undertook a very technically challenging project with ease, but importantly maintained focus on real world applications.  Her work output and publication record were exceptional and her research truly contributes to science.  Priyanka’s excellent contribution to science is being acknowledged in this award, but her contribution to the fabric of the research and larger community at IT Sligo must also be acknowledged.  She radiated positivity, kindness, empathy and a willingness to welcome and help others and truly added to the research environment.  She came to the research group while it was in its infancy and helped shape the collaborative culture that still exists in the group.  Priyanka’s graciousness coupled with her capability truly marks her a leader and we are proud to have mentored her in her time in IT Sligo.”

Dr Ganguly is now moving to England to begin a new position at the London Metropolitan University but said she will fondly remember her experience at IT Sligo:

“My time in IT Sligo has been one of the memorable ones in my research life and career. I enjoyed my work and also enjoyed talking with students from different age groups. It has laid the foundation to transition to my postdoctoral time as a Marie Curie researcher at the University of Glasgow, UK and further moving to London Metropolitan University as a faculty.

Moreover, I had been mentored by my wonderful supervisors Prof Suresh C Pillai and Dr Ailish Breen, to not only do better research but to be a better human being. In the process, it has also led me to establish several new friends around the globe for life long and I can’t signify its importance.”

Professor Christine O’Connor, TU Dublin, chair of the assessment panel for the prize, commended the quality of this year’s competition entries: “This years’ Kathleen Lonsdale Prize applicants representing Universities/ Institutes across Ireland have been of an extremely high standard. To have such a high calibre of applicants following what has been a very disruptive time in their postgraduate research due to the pandemic, displays resilience and determination of both the Researchers and their Supervisors. The applicants demonstrated how their research aims to address global challenges and dissemination of the outputs in such high impact journals and scientific fora demonstrates Ireland as being world class in Chemical Sciences research.”

Dr Ganguly will receive the winner’s certificate and the €2,000 prize at a special ceremony of the Royal Irish Academy later this year. She will also be nominated by the Royal Irish Academy to represent Ireland in the 2022 IUPAC-Solvay International Award for Young Chemists. The Kathleen Lonsdale RIA Chemistry Prize is kindly supported by Henkel.