Andrea Laybourn

Nottingham academics win prestigious research and innovation awards

Tuesday, 13 June 2023

Two University of Nottingham researchers are celebrating national success after receiving awards from the Royal Society of Chemistry in recognition of their research achievements.

Dr Andrea Laybourn, Assistant Professor in Chemical and Environmental Engineering and member of the Advanced Materials Research Group has been awarded the Barrer Award, a triennial prize that recognises significant work in the field of porous materials.

Dr Laybourn specialises in tailoring and making porous materials using microwave technologies, which have the advantage of allowing specific components to be heated within reaction mixtures producing materials of higher quality and in a more sustainable manner.

Porous materials act like sponges and adsorb different guest molecules, such as gases. Andrea studies how flow microwave heating can be used to enhance guest uptake. As this research can be applied to a wide variety of sectors, Andrea is involved in a plethora of projects at the university across different industries, including healthcare technologies, pollutant remediation, and thermochemical energy – to name a few.

She said: “Although the news is still sinking in, I’m absolutely delighted to have won this award and feel honoured that my work has been considered worthy of such an accolade. In previous years, this award has gone to a lot of people that I personally admire who have gone on to make significant strides in this area of research, so to join their ranks is a rather surreal experience"

Andrea Laybourn
I am extremely grateful to the other researchers in the group and to my collaborators and mentors, it is a privilege to work with such excellent and supportive people.
Dr Andrea Laybourn

This is Andrea’s second time winning a Royal Society of Chemistry prize, as she’s part of the Porous Materials Group (PMG) that won 2021’s Inspirational Committee Award. The PMG aims to bring together scientists from all career stages involved in research into porous materials and to foster links between academia and industry. The group hosted a series of online conferences throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, attracting hundreds of registrants from more than 30 countries, as well as 60 speakers from across the globe.

PhD researcher Tien Thuy Quach has received the Inspirational Member Award 2023 for her dedication to supporting the Particle Characterisation Group in organising the FORGE Conference, being instrumental in its success regarding engagement, marketing, and sustainability.

Tien Thuy Quach’s volunteering with the RSC’s Particle Characterisation Interest Group (PCIG) led her to take on a coordinator-speaker role for the FORGE Conference 2022. As well as supporting the marketing and logistics of the conference, she also chaired a session and engaged with professionals and students from academia and industry. She is now a committee member of the group.

Tien Thuy Quach
The Particle Characterisation Interest Group (PCIG) is a supportive environment for my personal and professional transformation. Without the trust and love of great colleagues there, I couldn’t have sufficient confidence to challenge myself in different roles and approaches to make things happen.
Tien Thuy Quach, PhD Researcher

The Royal Society of Chemistry’s prizes have recognised excellence in the chemical sciences for more than 150 years. The Research and Innovation Prizes 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.

Dr Helen Pain, Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry, said: “The chemical sciences are at the forefront of tackling a range of challenges facing our world. From fundamental chemistry to cutting-edge innovations, the work that chemical scientists do has an important role to play in building our future."

The RSC’s prizes programme enables us to reflect on and celebrate the incredible individuals and teams whose brilliance enriches our knowledge, advances our understanding, and brings new ideas and technologies that benefit society as a whole. We’re very proud to recognise the contributions of our winners today.
Dr Helen Pain, Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry

To find out more about Andrea’s area of research, please click here, or to find out more about the Advances Materials Research Group, please click here. To find out more about Tien’s research, please click here.

Story credits

More information is available from Danielle Hall, Media Relations Manager at the University of Nottingham, at or 0115 846 7156.

About the Faculty of Engineering

Made up of six departments – Architecture and Built Environment, Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Mechanical, Materials and Manufacturing Engineering and Foundation Engineering and Physical Sciences – the university’s Faculty of Engineering is home to more than 5,600 students and 800 staff.

The faculty, which has educated engineers and architects for more than 140 years, was the first in the country to be accredited with an Athena SWAN Gold Award for excellence in advancing gender equality across higher education and research and is home to multiple state-of-the-art facilities, including the recently opened £40m Power Electronics and Machines Centre (PEMC).

With research at its heart, 21 research groups are undertaking pioneering projects for a sustainable future across several themes – including net zero transport, sustainable energies and the built environment, advanced manufacturing, and healthcare technologies – and has delivered a positive impact in more than 20 countries. Within those countries, the faculty’s research has supported 500 companies and three governments – that have changed their strategies as a result of its research – and has also directly created jobs for around 3,000 people across the world.

Danielle Hall - Media Relations Manager - Faculty of Engineering
Phone: 0115 846 7156

Notes to editors:

About the University of Nottingham

Ranked 32 in Europe and 16th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings: Europe 2024, the University of Nottingham is a founding member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience, and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement.

Nottingham was crowned Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024 – the third time it has been given the honour since 2018 – and by the Daily Mail University Guide 2024.

The university is among the best universities in the UK for the strength of our research, positioned seventh for research power in the UK according to REF 2021. The birthplace of discoveries such as MRI and ibuprofen, our innovations transform lives and tackle global problems such as sustainable food supplies, ending modern slavery, developing greener transport, and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

The university is a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally - and our graduates are the second most targeted by the UK's top employers, according to The Graduate Market in 2022 report by High Fliers Research.

We lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, in partnership with Nottingham Trent University, a pioneering collaboration between the city’s two world-class institutions to improve levels of prosperity, opportunity, sustainability, health and wellbeing for residents in the city and region we are proud to call home.

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