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School Researcher Wins Bronze Award in Prestigious STEM for Britain Final 2023

Postdoctoral Researcher Chunchun Ye selected finalist and presented her research to Parliament, winning bronze award in Chemistry section.
Chunchun Ye

As part of British Science Week 2023, Chunchun Ye was one of three University of Edinburgh researchers named finalists in the STEM for Britain Awards:

  • Chunchun Ye (School of Chemistry)
  • Didier Devaurs (MRC University Unit for Human Genetics)
  • Natalie Ring (Roslin Institute)

Chunchun arrived in Edinburgh in 2017 to pursue her PhD at the School of Chemistry, University of Edinburgh. She is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate working with Professor Neil McKeown.  Her prize-winning poster for STEM for BRITAIN 2023 is based on her PhD research and focuses on the development of new ion-sieving polymer membranes for flow battery energy storage technology, which has the potential to integrate renewable but intermittent energy sources such as solar and wind power into the grid to enable widespread adoption of renewables and enable cheap backup power. This was an interdisciplinary research project and she collaborated closely with Dr Qilei Song's group at Imperial College London during her PhD to achieve this successful project.

Chunchun’s poster on her research about Ion-sieving polymer membranes for flow battery energy storage was judged against dozens of other scientists’ research in the only national competition of its kind. Chunchun was shortlisted from hundreds of talented applicants to appear in Parliament and went on to win the bronze award in Chemistry.

I'm very passionate about my research. It is a wonderful opportunity to showcase my research which may help address some environmental and energy issues. During the day in Parliament, I hope to let more people know about my research field, while I'd like to meet and learn about all kinds of promising research projects from other excellent early-career researchers.

Chuhchun Ye

The work of our scientists and researchers makes our universities world class and our economy create the jobs and opportunities of the future. An annual parliamentary highlight is the STEM for Britain awards that showcase the very best of that talent. The University of Edinburgh produces some of the very best entrants and I’m delighted that the best of the best will be showcasing their work in parliament again this year. These are truly prestigious awards and both the nominees and the institutions they represent should be very proud of their achievements.

Ian Murray MP, Labour Member of Parliament for Edinburgh South, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland

More information on Chunchun Ye’s research

Redox flow batteries are promising for large-scale energy storage suitable for solving the problem of the intermittency of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power. A key challenge for the improvement in the performance and cost of these batteries is the membrane, whose role is to transport small charge-carriers while blocking the cross-over of larger redox-active molecules. Chunchun envisaged size-selective membranes based on Polymers of Intrinsic Microporosity (PIMs), however, previously prepared PIMs are hydrophobic and thus are unable to generate water channels for ion transport. Therefore, she developed efficient and mild methods to introduce hydrophilic groups into PIMs which did not result in the degradation of the PIM allowing it to maintain its membrane-forming properties. Moreover, the number of hydrophilic groups could be precisely controlled to tailor the properties of the resulting ion-conducting membrane. She then demonstrated their efficient ionic/ molecular sieving functions in redox flow batteries during extended research visits to our collaborators (the Song Group) at Imperial College. The resulting redox flow batteries operate using benign near-neutral aqueous solutions to maintain membrane stability and, hence, afford very efficient batteries with predicted useful lifetimes of over 30 years.

Overview of Chunchun's research

Chunchun is an exceptionally talented and motivated researcher. I am delighted that she has been selected for this prestigious and highly competitive event. Her PhD research focused on the development of new ion-selective membranes for use in redox flow batteries which offer the potential for large scale energy storage from intermittent renewable sources such as wind and solar power.

The successful development of the novel membranes was collaboration achieved in with engineers working in the group of Dr. Qilei Song at Imperial College, London, who hosted Chunchun for extended research visits to evaluate the performance of the batteries.”     

Professor Neil McKeown

I am delighted to have been named a finalist in the STEM for Britain Awards 2023. This is a fantastic opportunity for me to showcase my PhD research and share my research idea with other early career researchers from different fields.

Chunchun Ye

The Parliamentary and Scientific Committee runs the event in collaboration with the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Institute of Physics, the Royal Society of Biology, The Physiological Society, the Nutrition Society and the Council for the Mathematical Sciences, with sponsorship from Dyson Ltd, Clay Mathematics Institute, United Kingdom Research and Innovation, Warwick Manufacturing Group, AWE, British In Vitro Diagnostics Association, the Society of Chemical Industry, Institute of Biomedical Science, the Heilbronn Institute for Mathematical Research, and the Biochemical Society.  

More Information

Wednesday, March 8, 2023