DiStruc and Colldense ITNs meeting in Heraklion

The fifth DiStruc Training and Progress meeting took place on 28-30 June 2017. The meeting was hosted by Profs. Maria Vamvakaki and Giorgos Petekides at the Foundation for Research and Technology - Hellas (FORTH) in Heraklion (Greece). The programme included lectures on transferable skills and fellows' presentations on their research progress. Representatives of the DiStruc Supervisory and Advisory Board provided valuable feedback and recommendations for future work. The meeting was open to the Colldense ITN fellows.

The progression of the project deliverables and future events were discussed in a closed Management meeting.

The 5th Playing Colloidal Mikado Mini Conference was organised as a joint event of DiStruc and Colldense ITNs. It took place on 1-2 July 2017 at FORTH. The conference was attended by over 40 representatives of the two networks. Four renowned scientists and eighteen DiStruc and Colldense fellows were invited to give oral presentations, and eight fellows presented posters. For more information and photos, check the event's page.

Best Outreach Prize awarded to three DiStruc fellows

Following the success of the Squishy Soft Science event, the DiStruc fellows applied for the 2016 Best Outreach Prize awarded by the Flowing Matter Cost Action (MP1305). The prize is awarded to an outstanding outreach activity conducted between May 2015 and October 2016 and to a maximum of three participants with comparable contributions. The DiStruc fellows voted for their three representatives and elected Shari Finner (Eindhoven University of Technology), Marie Föllmer (CANOE) and Max Tortora (University of Oxford) who put together an excellent application and eventually won the prize. Congratulations! 

The prize ceremony will be held on Monday the 23rd of January in Porto (Portugal), during the next main annual meeting of Flowing Matter. 

Squishy Soft Science

More than 100 little ‘scientists in the making’ attended our Squishy Soft Science event, held in Christ Church, Oxford on Saturday 9th of July. Children, mainly aged 7-14, had the opportunity to meet up with the DiStruc fellows and perform a series of experiments related to the DiStruc project. The demonstrations were carefully designed by the fellows, who also prepared a nice booklet especially for the event. Children who completed all the experiments were awarded the Squishy Soft Science Certificate.


We would like to thank all the DiStruc fellows for their hard work, David Dunmur, Martin Grossel and Fiona Holdsworth from the Christ Church Chemists (CH)3 Group who provided valuable support with the organisation of the event, Kazem Edmond, Siyu Chen and Rahul Sharma for stepping in and assisting with the demonstrations, Jack Chapman for the tech support, George Volonakis for recording the event and of course Christ Church for their warm welcome and in kind support. 

Most importantly we would like to thank our 200 visitors for spending the afternoon with us. Hope to see you again in our future events! 

Check out the page of the event for pictures and videos! 

Managing ITNs in Chemistry, Oxford

The Network Administrator of DiStruc participated in the Research and Innovation Support Conference held in Oxford on the 5th of July 2016. Together with two other Project Managers from the Department of Chemistry, University of Oxford, Dr Pavlina Smitcz and Dr Tracey Marr, Irini prepared a poster showcasing the three (!) Innovative Training Networks currently co-ordinated by the Department: Radiomi, OxioSCR and DiStruc.

During the poster session the delegates of the conference (mainly administrative staff of the University) had the opportunity to learn about the three ITNs and the training opportunities they offer. 

DiStruc Public Lectures

As seen by the local news

A reporter from Cursor, the local news site of the Eindhoven University of Technology, attended the DiStruc Public Lectures and wrote a short praising article, describing the event.

The article begins with the presentation of Roel Dullens who introduced the audience to the 'wondrous world of colloids', and showed live from the lab in Oxford how the experiments are actually performed. Then David Dunmur took over and 'provided an overview of the development since their discovery at the end of the 19th century of these special colloids, which we know best from LCD screens.' Finally, 'a table filled with glassware was rolled into the Filmzaal' and the people present participated in a hands-on demonstration provided by Teijin Aramid, one of the industrial partners of DiStruc. They 'were allowed personally to empty a syringe of liquid crystals into a beaker of salt water. With a certain measure of dexterity this resulted in meters-long fibers, which were displayed on the table.'   

The full article can be found here. (tip: if you are confident with Dutch, switch language. The native version is more thorough.)

If you missed the lectures, go to the DiStruc YouTube channel

DiStruc meeting in Eindhoven

The second DiStruc meeting will take place in February (15-19/02/2016) in Eindhoven (the Netherlands) and it will have it all! The first day will be dedicated to the DiStruc fellows: they will present their individual projects and discuss the challenges they are faced with. This progress meeting will be followed by six training lectures covering a broad range of topics on Soft Matter. There are limited places available for non-DiStruc students, so if you are interested make sure you book on time! The last training lecture on Wednesday 17 February will mark the beginning of the 3rd Playing Colloidal Mikado Workshop. Two public lectures and one hands-on demonstration will reveal the remarkable aspects of liquid crystals – not to be missed! The main lectures of the workshop will involve invited speakers from several European countries who will discuss the recent developments and advances in the chemistry and physics of non-spherical colloidal particles with a focus on colloidal rods. The workshop will end with ‘a night at the (van Abbe) museum’. Finally, on Friday 19 February the DiStruc fellows, together with their supervisors will travel to Arnhem and visit Teijin Aramid. They will be guided around the company’s premises and follow a series of industry-related talks. For more information check the event's page

DiStruc meeting in Heraklion

A few days ago  (21-24 September 2015), the DiStruc fellows attended the first Scientific Training session, held at the Foundation for Research and Technology, Hellas (FORTH), in Crete. It was the first time they met each other and with the other members of the Network, so the programme was arranged accordingly. The fellows and their Supervisors introduced themselves and briefly presented their individual DiStruc projects. This was followed by introductory lectures on theory, simulations, experiments, and synthesis, given by selected supervisors of the Network and two of our partners, Patrick Davidson and David Dunmur. Finally, two lectures were given by our invited speaker, Professor Jan Mewis, from KU Leuven.

European Conference on Liquid Crystals

The 13th European Conference on Liquid Crustals will take place in Manchester, 7-11 September 2015. It will bring together leading international researchers to present and discuss the latest directions in liquid crystals and soft anisotropic materials. Three of our Scientists in Charge will be participating in the conference with plenary and invited talks. Eric Grelet (Centre de Recherche Paul-Pascal, CNRS) will give a talk on “Entropy driven phase transition and chirality amplification in colloidal liquid crystals: the paradigm of filamentous viruses”, Julia Yeomans (University of Oxford) will give a talk on “Active Nematics”, where as Paul P.A.M. van der Schoot (Technische Universiteit Eindhoven) will give a talk entitled  “Tactoids Large and Small”. Moreover, DiStruc is participating in the special session on with a poster that highlights the most important aspects of the project. This is an exciting opportunity to spread the word about our project and interact with a diverse audience. Also, David Dunmur (University of Manchester) will be participating with a video presentation entitled LC past present and future and a Demonstration of magnetic-field induced Fredericksz effect. The outreach session will also include hands-on experiments and will finish with a keynote public lecture on Liquid crystals: Nature’s delicate and very prosperous state of matter. The outreach session is open to the public, so come and meet us!

Info: 5.00-7.30, Renold Building C15, University of Manchester 

30 April 2015: H2020 ITN Coordinators’ Info day

The project manager of DiStruc, Irini Hatzimichali, attended the first H2020 ITN Coordinators’ Info day that took place on Thursday 30th April (08h30 – 17h30) in Brussels. The meeting was organised by the MSCA ITN team of the Research Executive Agency (REA).

The event was addressed to the Coordinators of H2020 MSCA ITN 2014 projects. In total 114 people attended the meeting, representing 93 projects.

After registration, the session opened with a review of the objectives and main features of the MSCA 2014 call. The presentations that followed addressed issues such as Recruitment (Sandrine Jacobs, REA A.1); Financial management (Sally Taylor, REA A.1); Reporting (Marcela Groholova, REA A.1); IPR Management in Horizon 2020 (Jörg  Scherer, European IPR Helpdesk); Open Access in a European Policy Context (Daniel Spichtinger, EC DG RTD A.6); Communication and public engagement (Alexandra Ruete,EC DG RTD A.1); Ethics and Scientific Integrity (Audrey Arfi, REA A.1); Best Practices (Sergio Mastropierro, REA A.1 & Barth F. Smeth, Technical University of Denmark). The presentations of the speakers can be found here

Each session was followed by a Q&A where the participants had the opportunity to pose specific questions to the speakers. In the afternoon there were three parallel sessions for EID, EJD and ETN projects respectively. The DiStruc project manager had the opportunity to meet with the Project Officer, Ms. Athina Zampara and informed her on the progress and the future plans of the project.

6-8 January 2015: DiStruc Kick-off meeting

The kick-off meeting of DiStruc was held on 6-8 January 2015, at the Denys Wilkinson Building in Oxford. The meeting was attended by Dirks Aarts, Julia Yeomans, Jonathan Doye and Roel Dullens from the University of Oxford,  Pavlik Lettinga from Julich, Paul van der Schoot from the Technical University of Eindhoven, Eric Grelet from CNRS/Bordeaux, George Petekidis from FORTH, Erik Westenhoff from Tejin Aramid, Krassimir Velikov from Unilever, Simon Jestin from Canoe/Adera, Deniz Gunes from Nestlé and David Dunmur from Manchester University. Also Maria Vamvakaki from FORTH, Zvonimir Dogic from Brandeis University, and Patrick Davidson from CNRS who could not attend the event, contributed through skype video calls.

Each beneficiary and partner presented his/her current scientific interests, the way they intend to contribute to the DiStruc project and their relevant scientific goals. Each Work Package and its deliverables were discussed separately per node and per ESR.

The beneficiaries also specified the desirable background of the ESR(s) they wish to hire and discussed the secondments they can offer.

The coordinator gave a presentation covering the practical aspects of the Network: management structure, procedures, finances, recruitment process and dissemination of results (including the open access obligation of the beneficiaries and the visibility of the EU emblem and funding). The attendees discussed their ideas on these practical issues and how they can meet the deadlines specified in the Grant Agreement.