INEF 2011- Cambridge

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In July 2011, our little “coal tar” research group travelled to Saint John’s College, Cambridge for the International Network of Environmental Forensics (INEF is a nonprofit, interest group within the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)).

This was an excellent boutique conference (around one hundred delegates). The facilities were amazing with a particular highlight being the food served in the Hall for lunch and dinner which made every meal feel like a conference dinner!!

I gave a talk entitled: Comprehensive Chemical Fingerprinting of The Effects of Weathering on Coal Tar DNAPls and Coal Tar Contaminated Soil Samples. Based on some of the work by my MRes students: Dr Phil Richards, Stephanie Kerr and Helen Gray.

They also each presented a poster which was a fantastic opportunity for MRes students. Their work was seen and commented on by experts in Environmental Forensics from around the world! And they have Parson Brinckerhoff to thank for their sponsorship!

Laura McGergor (now a Dr!) then a final year PhD student also gave a talk: “Next Generation Chemical Fingerprinting: Case Study of Coal Tar from Former Manufactured Gas Plants” for which she won jointly the prize for best student paper!! We were very proud!

Victoria Pitstra, then an MSc Student in Environmental Forensics, also was given the chance to come along to carry some of her dissertation work which involved asking practitioners about acceptance and admissibility of new analytical methods in Environmental Forensics. Victoria’s team also won the croquet competition which means that we went away will all the possible Prizes!!

This was my second time attending the INEF conference as I also presented at the 2009 event in Calgary. This is a genuinely excellent conference, extremely well organised notably by my good friend Dr Gwen O’Sullivan. There are a small number of delegates but all the biggest figures in Environmental Forensics are there, providing an incredible opportunity to meet and network.

In Cambridge, we met Dr Jean-Christophe Balouet and it led to the University of Strathclyde integrating the PIT project to investigate the use of GCxGC-TOFMS for phytoforensics and we are hoping to present some of the results of this work at the next INEF event this summer in Penn State!!

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