This term has gone by really quickly – I can’t believe we’re already over half way through!
My favourite thing, academically, this term has been the MChem Mini-Project, which is carried out in labs. I was assigned my choice of the 3 Rs, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. The basis behind this was that we’re constantly looking to be greener and kind to our Earth and make our processes more sustainable, with the focus on food waste. So, my supervisor asked us to get in to pairs and pick a fruit from his selection – my partner and I chose pomegranate. We are currently finding what we can get out of the waste of these fruits which can be used elsewhere, this means that my partner and I have been messing about with pomegranate skins for four days so far. Our first goal was seeing what main compound types we could get out in various solvents. This meant chopping the skin up and boiling it respectively in water, ethanol and heptane, filtering off the pomegranate remains and finally concentrating and characterising the solid you get from concentrating the solvent. Most recently, we have extracted pectin from the peel. Pectin is the thickener in jam and it turns a really pretty colour as seen above! Some people have said it looks a little bit like a cocktail. This could have many uses; for example a food or cosmetic thickener.
On another note, I haven’t got an industry placement – but I’m still looking and applying! If I’m not successful, I can still apply to Aachen, or stay in York, either of which I’d be happy to do. It seems with industry placements, there are still many people still looking, so if you find yourself in this position in a few years’ time, don’t worry and keep your chin up – keep applying and you’ll get one! In the meantime, I’ve been chatting to academics to see what type of project they could offer next year. Some of these organic-y type research projects look awesome, quite similar to the ones in industry. In all seriousness, I personally don’t think I’m ready to leave York yet, I’ve become really very attached to the city and all the geese over these few years! I’m actually considering staying and doing a PhD after I graduate now.
Along with the stay-in-York plan comes looking for somewhere to live. I was worried there wouldn’t be much left this time of year, but having a look around on t’internet shows there’s still loads left, which is brilliant news. There’s always a bit of worry about housing when you have to do it for the first time, I remember in my first year trying to figure out who would live with who and where. These things are usually resolved fairly easily though. My advice would be to just make sure who you’re planning on living with are nice and reasonable people! Thankfully I’ve lived with the same people since first year and they’re a reasonable lot.
It is also of course, that (in?)famous time of year – Valentine’s day. It’s a bit like Marmite, some people hate it, some people love it, but what you do is completely up to you, right? Some of my friends have been spending it out with their SO and others have spent it in bed! I am definitely one of the latter, although I am treating my guy to a breakfast at the popular and apparently yummy Brew and Brownie in a week’s time, followed by tickets to go see Deadpool! Really excited about Deadpool, I’ve literally seen all the trailers and teasers. Even nearly ordered a chimichanga in Chiquito the other day. So. Excited.
My powerlifting is also going really well. I’ve just started ‘peaking’ for my next competition on April 30th. Peaking is a way of ‘tapering’ your strength ready for a competition/meet. This is a much longer one than usual; I generally train normally until about four weeks before and have a serious and very hard peak for three weeks and a week off before the meet. This is a 12 weak peak designed by my friend and quasi-coach Will, made of high volume on high weight for the first eight, which then tapers to lower volume on even higher weight, like I’d do in a meet. Pic is of my second rep of squats of my first week of the peak on 90 kg at 58 kg bodyweight – I’m hoping for maybe 120 kg in eleven weeks’ time… Eat big, get big, lift big.