- Course: Chemical and Process Engineering PhD
- PhD title: Ultramicroscopy of complex pharmaceutical materials
- LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/natalia-koniuch-78b480145
Natalia Koniuch is studying for a PhD in the ‘ultramicroscopy of complex pharmaceutical materials,’ and is part of the materials characterisation research group in the School of Chemical and Process Engineering. Her PhD was funded by an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) iCASE award held by AstraZeneca. She works closely with the AstraZeneca Product Development Group in Macclesfield.
“My project has been funded by an EPSRC iCASE award held by AstraZeneca, a leading global biopharmaceutical company,” said Natalia. “This collaboration makes my PhD the best of its kind, since it combines an unique research angle with a training programme in collaboration with a world-leading external company.”
Working with AstraZeneca
Working with the AstraZeneca Product Development Group has offered both Natalia and the company a number of opportunities. These include experience gained by Natalia, and AstraZeneca using the University’s specialist facilities.
Natalia said: “For me as a PhD student, the collaboration broadens my understanding of the pharmaceutical industry. It helps the University to gain a detailed awareness of the research problems or challenges experienced by industry. The external company benefits from access to state-of-the-art research facilities in Leeds Electron Microscopy and Spectroscopy centre (LEMAS), as well as the intellectual capital of academia.”
The collaborative work between the University of Leeds and AstraZeneca could ultimately lead to enhanced efficacy for patients and consumers...
She added: “The collaborative work between the University of Leeds and AstraZeneca will contribute to improved knowledge and understanding of how drugs can be formulated into medicines. This could ultimately lead to enhanced efficacy for patients and consumers, in the form of medicines that are more effective and easier to take.”
Choosing the University of Leeds
Natalia has always been interested in science and its application, particularly in how materials perform the way they do. Studying for her Masters degree introduced her to the topics she was most passionate about and inspired her to pursue further research. She was also motivated by the facilities the University and its reputation.
“The University of Leeds is famous for its ranking in Chemical Engineering with world-leading analytical infrastructure and high-quality academic staff,” said Natalia. “Particularly, the LEMAS research centre in materials characterisation is one of the best centres in the UK in this field. Therefore, when it was possible to apply for a PhD position within this group, I felt it was my dream come true.”
The University's LEMAS research centre in materials characterisation is one of the best centres in the UK in this field.
She continued: “Upon completing an Electron Microscopy module as part of my master’s degree, I realised that characterisation of materials was a field that I am passionate about and want to specialise in. I had the chance to do some original research on my master’s project using mostly electron microscopy techniques and that’s inspired me to take up the challenge of pursuing a PhD.”
She added: “It is worth emphasizing that the University of Leeds is committed to supporting equality and diversity for all staff and students as well as supporting the careers of women in science engineering, which was an important aspect for me.
The University of Leeds offers a range of training courses and professional development opportunities to research students who want to master their skills. Postgraduate researchers also have the opportunity to be a member of a specific research group, which enables them to work with other PhD students and academic researchers.
“From the beginning of my PhD, I became a member of the Materials Characterisation group in the School of Chemical and Process Engineering,” Natalia said. “The multidisciplinary research within this group focuses on the development of advanced characterisation methods to understand the physical and chemical properties of a range of materials.
I became a member of the Materials Characterisation group, which focuses on the development of advanced characterisation methods to understand the physical and chemical properties of a range of materials.
“In particular, I work closely with the electron microscopy unit, LEMAS, to develop low-dose electron microscopy techniques. With my research I aim to investigate the key interfaces in pharmaceutical products all the way down at the atomic scale, and the facilities allow me to do this.”
She added: “Our regular meetings, and the incredible support from all members of the team, helps me to make continuous progress and motivate me to achieve ever higher goals.”