Whitley Bay chemist takes her science to Parliament

PhD student Kate Appleby from Whitley Bay.
PhD student Kate Appleby from Whitley Bay.

A PhD student from Whitley Bay will attend Parliament next week to present her science to politicians and a panel of expert judges.

Kate Appleby will be taking part in the SET for Britain competition on Monday.

People should be aware of the amount of research that goes into their everyday products and understand why such necessary research is funded

Kate Appleby

The 25-year-old’s poster on research about how the rare metal palladium helps to speed up chemical reactions – so that it can be used more efficiently in everything from catalytic converters to preparing some drug molecules – will be judged against dozens of other scientists’ research in the only national competition of its kind.

Kate, who is studying at the University of York was shortlisted from hundreds of applicants to appear in Parliament.

On presenting her science at Westminster, she said: “Everyone benefits from scientific research like mine, so I think it is very important to communicate research and its significance to non-scientists.

“People should be aware of the amount of research that goes into their everyday products and understand why such necessary research is funded.

“I hope to spark interest in my research on palladium catalysis by showing how all of the analytical clues I have collected can be combined to solve the case of the elusive palladium species.”

Andrew Miller, MP, chairman of the parliamentary and scientific committee, said: “This annual competition is an important date in the parliamentary calendar because it gives MPs an opportunity to speak to a wide range of the country’s best young researchers.

“These early career engineers, mathematician and scientists are the architects of our future and SET for Britain is politicians’ best opportunity to meet them and understand their work.”

Kate’s research has been entered into the chemistry session of the competition, which will end in a gold, silver and bronze prize-giving ceremony.

Judged by leading academics, the gold medallist receives £3,000, while silver and bronze receive £2,000 and £1,000 respectively.

Professor Helen Fielding, from the Royal Society of Chemistry, said: “As a member of the chemistry judging panel, it has been inspirational to see so many excellent posters from the finalists.

“Chemistry is crucial to society, playing an important role in energy, health, food, and tackling climate change.

“Inspiring young people into science is also crucial for the UK’s economic growth and job creation.

“We hope that many more talented scientists like these finalists have the opportunity to contribute to society.

“I’m thrilled to see such excellent and inspiring science going to Parliament.”