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Saphora Dabo

Level 1, Energy Building
Primary Supervisor
Professor Sven Schroeder, Chemical & Process Engineering
BSc Chemistry, Sheffield Hallam


Saphora’s interest in particulate products sparked during a laboratory project in her first year which involved the qualitative and quantitative chemical analysis of several consumer products. This resulted in a new interest for the processes involved in the development and formulation design of particulate products. Having the opportunity to be trained for the production of pharmaceutical, healthcare and a wide range of commercial products would be ideal for her career ambitions.

Saphora was particularly attracted to the CP3 CDT as it focuses on interdisciplinary and collaborative work, with the opportunity to do take part in a variety of projects involving chemical engineering, chemistry and particle science enabling her to acquire a strong foundation. She looks forward to expanding her scientific and transferrable skills whilst working in an interdisciplinary environment alongside people with diverse scientific disciplines on problem-based group projects.

PhD: Determining the mechanism(s) of soft metal corrosion in vehicles and the influence of lubricating oil 

Road vehicles contain soft metals (such as copper and lead) in bearings and other areas (eg piston rings). With downsizing of internal combustion engines due to hybridisation and automatic stop/start technologies, increasing levels of polar molecules (e.g. water from combustion and acetic acid from combustion of biofuels) are being produced, leading to corrosion that may result in vehicle failure. Corrosion inhibitors are used commercially, but the mechanism of action is not fully understood. This project will focus on studying the mechanism(s) by which corrosion of copper and lead occur. The chemical composition, valence and binding of the metal will be studied before, during and after exposure to a corrosive environment (in a laboratory rig designed to mimic real world conditions). In addition, the role of corrosion inhibitors in such systems will be investigated. The overall aim is to understand the key attributes of the corrosion mechanism and to design potential solutions. This project is mostly experimental and will focus on surface chemistry/ tribology with some complementary molecular and solid-state modelling. The majority of experimental facilities are available at the University of Leeds in the School of Chemical and Process Engineering. Various techniques will be used throughout the project including XPS, X-ray diffraction, thermochemical methods, optical microscopy and small angle x-ray (SAXS) both in Leeds and at Diamond Light Source.

Research Project(s) during degree:

  • Final year project -The application of MS MALDI TOF for the investigation of Interleukin 1 and Interleukin 6 as potential biomarkers for NSCLC and pleural mesothelioma
    The project involved qualitative analysis with the molecular profiling and imaging of non-small cell lung cancer tissue (NSCLC) with further evaluation done with histological and principal component statistical (PCA – DA) analysis. The opportunity to utilise MS in a bioanalytical based project has broadened Saphora’ analytical and practical skillset.

Industrial experience/placements:

  • Analytical Chemist: Broughton Laboratories, Skipton, UK July 2016 – August 2017
    Quality control of pharmaceutical and veterinary products with the application of a range of analytical techniques; HPLC, Dissolution testing, UV spectroscopy, and IR spectroscopy
  • Work placement: University of Warwick, Coventry, UK Summer 2015
    Spent in the department of Chemistry’s magnetic resonance centre shadowing a PhD postgraduate student, researching for Pfizer on the use of high resolution NMR to facilitate HPLC method development.

Masters research project in year 1 of CDT:

  • ‘Synthesis of amorphous carbon nanosphere supported metal nanoparticle catalysts for industrially focused heterogeneous hydrogenation in continuous flow’ with Dr Tom Chamberlain, Chemistry