Three Strathclyde students in research competition at Westminster

elemental analysis machine in a chemistry lab

Three students on the University of Strathclyde’s collaborative chemistry programme with pharmaceutical company GSK are to present their research at a UK-wide conference and awards ceremony, held at the House of Commons.

Jason Williams, Julia Hyslop and Hannah Lithgow will be taking part in STEM for Britain, an annual poster competition held at Westminster, involving around 200 early stage or early career researchers and judged by professional and academic experts.

They will be competing in the chemistry category, one of six in the competition, which is organized by the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee. They were shortlisted from hundreds of applicants for the event, which will be held on Monday 12 March.

Jason Williams. Photo RSC

Jason’s poster outlines his research on the use of ‘quantum cascade laser’ microscopy, to support the development of flow chemistry processes, for the safe, effective and sustainable manufacturing of pharmaceuticals.

He said: “STEM for Britain is a fantastic, and somewhat unique, opportunity to present science to a very different audience, compared to what I’m used to. Trying to get the impact of my work across to a group of MPs will definitely be a new challenge, but one that I’m very excited about! I’m hoping that having been selected to present at this event, I will be able to help spread the importance of sustainability in pharmaceutical manufacturing, and the technologies required to achieve it.”

JUlia Hyslop. Photo RSC

Julia’s poster presentation will be on her research about the use of novel enzymes to sustainably synthesize medicines using biocatalysts.

She said: “This event is a brilliant opportunity to raise awareness of enzyme catalysis and sustainable technologies with MPs. Environmentally friendly manufacturing methods are important areas of research and development.”

Hannah Lithgow. Photo RSC  

Hannah will be presenting a poster on her research into the next generation of medicines. Her work also recently won her a Centenary Award, presented by science education charity the Salters’ Institute to mark its 100th anniversary. 

She said: “I strive to be an inspirational role model in science, especially to the younger generation. I am a STEM ambassador, with a strong desire to promote science in schools and to the public to help motivate the next generation of scientists. The research focus of my PhD is looking to create a new era of medicines and I’m excited to be able to share the progress of this and to demonstrate how UK science is at the forefront of drug discovery.”

STEM for Britain was previously titled SET for Britain, a competition in which Strathclyde has enjoyed extensive success in recent years.

In 2016, Joanna Sadler won the gold medal in the Chemistry category of the SET for Britain awards poster competition at Westminster, while Joshua Barham received the silver medal in the same category. They followed Natalie Theodoulou, winner of the Chemistry silver in 2015, Graham Robertson, winner of the Biology gold in 2014, and Jeannette Heiligers, winner of the Engineering gold in 2012.


The GSK-Strathclyde collaboration began in 2009 exclusively for GSK employees, who registered as Strathclyde research students and worked towards MPhil/PhD degrees through work-based projects. In 2012, the programme introduced new non-GSK employee PhD cohorts. Since the outset, research themes have expanded from an array of chemistry areas to include the additional disciplines of Biological Sciences, and Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics. The programme has so far had more than 130 registered students.