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Hundreds of materials doctorate students gather for inaugural Royce Student Summit

Materials doctoral candidates from around the UK gathered over Zoom for the inaugural Royce Student Summit, from 2-3 March 2021. Over 300 people registered for the Summit, representing nearly 50 different UK universities.

After an introduction to Royce from CEO Prof David Knowles and Chief Scientist Prof Philip Withers, the first day focussed on advanced materials research for a more sustainable society. Parallel sessions on Transition to Zero Carbon, Digital & Communications, Circular Economy, Sustainable Manufacture, and Health and Wellbeing, opened with engaging keynotes from Prof Valeska Ting, Dr Guiliana Di Martino, Prof Anthony J Ryan, Dr Dan Cogswell and Dr Marco Domingos (respectively), followed by student research talks.

The second day explored ways to apply the skills and knowledge gained through a materials-related doctorate, opening with inspiring presentations from the 2021 Young Woman Engineer of the Year Ella Podmore, and winner of the 2020 IOM3 Young Persons’ World Lecture Competition Morgan Lowther. The programme continued with a range of interactive sessions, including micro-sandpit workshops, a careers panel discussion and careers drop-in sessions, before finishing with a keynote from Microsoft’s Bill Buxton on the ‘Long Nose of Innovation’.

Throughout the two-day Summit, long breaks encouraged attendees to network with student poster presenters, as well as to discuss membership opportunities with representatives from IOM3. Before the end of the Summit, attendees were invited to place two votes in the poster competition, selecting the poster that most impressed them, and the poster that most surprised them. By an overwhelming majority, the winner of both categories was the same poster: ‘Development of a Bioartificial Kidney using Polyhydroxyalkanoates’, by Syed Mohammad Daniel Syed Mohamed, a first year PhD student undertaking his research with Prof Ipsita Roy at the University of Sheffield.

We asked Syed Mohammad Daniel Syed Mohamed to share his experience of attending the Royce Student Summit:

“Attending the Summit is really a huge advantage for a starting doctoral student like myself. The Summit was organised seamlessly, despite the virtual platform, as the online facilities were utilised to the fullest. I am really glad that I managed to share my doctoral project plan, on the development of bioartificial kidney using a bacterial polymer called polyhydroxyalkanoates.

“My favourite part of the event was the Micro-Sandpit workshop, which allowed engagement between participants in addressing certain issues and challenges regarding materials. I enjoyed the raw discussion involving a multidisciplinary approach from participants with different kinds of backgrounds. I really wish to participate again in the future, hopefully in person after this strange time ends.”

In a post-Summit survey, over 95% of respondents said they enjoyed the Summit, and that they would recommend next year’s Summit to other doctoral students.

Royce would like to wholeheartedly thank the many people involved in the success of the Summit, including the speakers, panellists, micro-sandpit organisers, poster presenters, and the technical events team.

All the student posters are available to view online at: