Royal Society of Chemistry prize for Strathclyde Professor

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A University of Strathclyde Professor has been named the winner of a prestigious award from the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC).

Professor Karen Faulds has won RSC’s Analytical Division mid-career Award, celebrating the most exciting chemical science taking place today.

Professor Faulds won the prize for contributions to the field of surface enhanced spatially offset Raman scattering (SESORRS). She also receives £3000 and a medal.

The announcement coincides with another RSC award for Strathclyde – the Industry-Academia Collaboration Award, presented for a collaboration between the University and pharmaceutical company GSK.

Professor Karen Faulds

Professor Faulds said: “I am very honoured and humbled that the research work carried out by my research group, past and present, is being recognised by this award.

“It is testament to all the great work by the amazing scientists I have had the privilege to work with over the years. I am very much looking forward to getting the chance to celebrate this award with them, as well as all the missed celebrations for their achievements over the last year when we are able!”

Professor Faulds’ research involves developing the technique of surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) for multiplexed bioanalytical applications. Raman involves directing laser light onto a molecule resulting in the light being scattered with a change in wavelength that is related to the structure of the molecules, providing a molecular fingerprint that can be used for definitive identification.

Using nanoparticles combined with SERS, the group develops bionanosensors for the specific detection of biomarkers related to disease. The group is using this approach for the detection of multiple DNA sequences related to disease, multiple biomarkers that indicate the onset of sepsis, drug induced liver damage and indicators of cardiovascular disease, for the detection and understanding of cancer and drug treatments, and for the sensitive detection of whole bacteria in both the healthcare setting and the food industry. These approaches are being developed with a view to achieving point-of-care detection.

Professor Faulds's group is also developing the approach of surface enhanced spatially offset Raman spectroscopy (SESORS) for the detection of disease changes at depth with a view to carrying out measurements at depth, inside the body, for the identification of changes related to cancer and bacterial infection.

RSC Chief Executive Dr Helen Pain said: “All of us have experienced tremendous challenges in the last year and the chemical sciences community has been integral to how the world has responded on a number of levels. From developing vaccines for COVID-19 to continuing to work towards a more sustainable world – the contribution of chemical scientists has never been more tangible or important.

“In a recent review of our recognition portfolio, we committed to ensuring that our prizes reflected the incredible diversity and excellence of chemistry being carried out today. Professor Faulds’s work is a prime example of what we are so passionate about and we are proud to recognise her contribution with this prize.”

The Research and Innovation Prizes – of which the Analytical Division mid-career Award is one – celebrate brilliant individuals across industry and academia. They include prizes for those at different career stages in general chemistry and for those working in specific fields, as well as interdisciplinary prizes and prizes for those in specific roles.

More than 50 winners of RSC prizes have gone on to become Nobel prizewinners, including 2019 Nobel laureate John B Goodenough.