Postgraduate Researcher, Vanya Petseva receives 1st prize in the Royal Microscopical Society Scientific Imaging Competition

Friday, 9 July 2021

Her work competed in the category Electron Microscopy – Physical Sciences in the finals that took place during the Microscience Microscopy Congress 2021 on 5-9th July.

Petseva`s fascinating image “The hidden gem in calcified seaweed” is a false-colour Scanning Electron Microscopy image of Pyrite (FeS2) nanocrystals, also known as “Fool`s Gold”, naturally synthesized in the extracellular polysaccharide matrix of red algae (Lithothamnium sp.) during its calcification process. 

“Working with natural materials could be challenging and often requires different approaches and thinking outside the box. Yet the results that come with the right strategies and techniques are absolutely fulfilling and fascinating”, said Petseva.

Petseva`s postgraduate work is part of CBNI`s long-term collaboration with Marigot Ltd, a leading SME in the naturally derived health & nutrition products sector in Ireland. The collaboration focuses on in-depth characterization of calcified seaweed towards future design of improved products and is funded by the Celtic Advanced Life Science Innovation Network (CALIN), an Ireland-Wales INTERREG programme part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.

Dr Shane O`Connell, R&D Manager at Marigot, said, "This image captures the fantastic complexity of the unique natural biomineral structures in Lithothamnion sp. sustainably harvested in Iceland by Marigot Ltd. The outstanding CALIN team at CBNI-UCD have applied their advanced scientific techniques and skills to make this discovery, and we have no doubt that further previously undiscovered findings will be made about Icelandic Lithothamnion sp. from this collaboration into the future."

CALIN aims to support the life sciences sector in Ireland and Wales by initiating collaboration between partner universities and SMEs.

Prof Kenneth Dawson said, “Vanya`s work illustrates how companies and universities, with well-managed industry-facing operations such as CALIN can leverage the high levels of scientific capacity often used solely for advanced fundamental University research. And it also illustrates how excellent postgraduate training in advanced research skills can be elegantly allied to the interests of companies. And for us as scientists, it is also revealing how innovative companies with products seeking to upscale their research level can present to academia truly elegant and beautiful research problems for students to learn from.”