Myoglobin protein and haem group visualised using DS Visualiser by Accelrys.

Picking option modules, brand new labs and baking!

The New Year has definitely started back with a bang with the busiest term to date. With 8 hours of lectures on Tuesday I’ve had a very busy time, and it’s only week 2!

This term I have a whole new adventure in the form of option modules. You have to choose these option modules at the end of first year and they give you the chance to study the areas of chemistry that really interest you. I have chosen a course on proteins, materials and catalysts, all of which I’m very excited and a little bit nervous about.  Being completely honest it wasn’t a simple decision to make, because these modules are important. There’s no point picking something because your friends are on that course, or picking something because you think it’ll be the easiest choice. First of all you need to take the time to read all the option synopses and consider which options will be best for you. The synopsis of each course gives a full description of each module so that you can make an informed decision. It’s always a good idea to ask some second or third years their opinion of the modules; whether they liked the way the lectures worked, whether you need to prefer one area of chemistry or what are their opinions generally. It’s useful to get the opinion of others but don’t let others put you off. You’ll always find someone who didn’t like every module and you’ll always find some horror story but you need to go with what you are interested in. Even after the first few lectures I’m really glad I am doing the modules I selected;  the lectures so far have been engaging, interesting and really good fun with some really great lecturers.

Amino acid model I made of a peptide in my Proteins workshop.
Amino acid model I made of a peptide in my Proteins workshop.

Despite my apprehensions about the biology content of my proteins module I’ve really enjoyed learning about the techniques used to visualise proteins and about their structure. Turns out biochemistry is more fun than I anticipated!

My attempt at making my peptide into an alpha-helix form. Not sure it is quite right!
My attempt at making my peptide into an alpha-helix form. Not sure it is quite right!

We had a whole session on the modelling of proteins both physically and using a computer programme. It was really interesting being able to see the way the residues interact with each other and how the helices and pleated sheets form. The work we’ve done so far on materials and catalysts have also been interesting so I can’t wait to get further into these modules. I’m definitely glad that I chose what I did, and especially that I picked what truly interested me.

I’m also excited to start a whole new set of labs on physical chemistry as they require a lot more precision and independent working than some other practicals. We have to write detailed reports and do analysis of a variety of experiments that link to the lecture courses we are having this term. Although it is a completely new format of labs, I am really looking forward to getting back into practical work alongside my lectures. Now that exams are all done, I’m glad to be getting back into the normal routine and went to the “Mamma Mia!” themed Body-Con, which was a lot of fun but very tiring because I’m  definitely out of shape! Hopefully this term I’ll be getting to a few more dance classes and taking up jogging in an effort to improve my general fitness, as part of my new year’s resolution. The Christmas break was really brilliant as I got to spend lots of time baking and cooking with my mum. As a result I got loads of awesome baking equipment as a present so this term I’m endeavouring to hone my baking skills and treat my friends with some (hopefully) delicious cakes!

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Giuseppina

Hi, my name is Giuseppina and I am a 2nd Chemistry student (MChem)! I'm half Italian, love travelling and watching TV shows from around the world. I'm a member of ChemSoc committee, Dance Society and Alcuin College netball.

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