A Life Changing Trip to Yale – Connor Halliday


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The Holland group pictured of 04/07/18; I’m the guy wearing the t-shirt with a cat on a pizza bike

In June and July 2018 I travelled to Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, USA to conduct research related to my postgraduate degree here at the University of Edinburgh. With the help of the Principal’s Go Abroad Fund I was able to travel to the US and carry out a two month research project in the research group of Professor Patrick Holland (https://holland.chem.yale.edu/) who conducts cutting edge research into the chemical reactions that occur between dinitrogen gas (N2 (g)) and earth abundant metals such as cobalt (Co) and Iron (Fe).

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The Peabody Science museum at Yale University

Here at the University of Edinburgh I focus on similar chemical reactions but using depleted (low radioactivity) Uranium as the metal. Whilst the reactions of iron with N2 have been heavily studied, comparatively, the reactivity of uranium is poorly understood. This meant that working within a group with a solid grounding in N2 chemistry provided an incredibly valuable insight into some of the apparatus and techniques used in this area which I can now bring back and implement here at Edinburgh.

The project I was placed on was incredibly fruitful and allowed me to gather a good body of results in a very short period of time with the possibility of being a named author on a high impact publication. The experience was incredible and may prove to be incredibly important for my future career.

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Sunlight through condensing water vapour

As well as the importance of the work the country and the people were also wonderful. This was my first time in the US and their positivity and drive is infectious! I was also fortunate enough to have my girlfriend join me for the second half of my trip, well… she arrived as my girlfriend, she left as my fiancé! We also got to visit nearby New York and some of the attractions there. A life changing couple of months.

Categories: Go Abroad Fund, North America, USA

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