Young Sunderland scientist wins £80,000 grant for paint research

Louisa Waine.
Louisa Waine.
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A Wearside chemist has been dubbed one of the most promising young scientists in the country.

Sunderland’s Louisa Waine is one of just eight people to be awarded an Industrial Fellowship, worth more than £80,000, to carry out a doctorate.

I am honoured to have been chosen

Louisa Waine

The Industrial Fellowships, from the Royal Commission of the Exhibition 1851, founded by Prince Albert, help fund projects and bring technologies to fruition.

Only eight fellowships are granted each year and projects are recognised for their potential to impact health, environment and business.

Louisa, who lives in Fulwell and is a former pupil at Monkwearmouth Academy, said she can’t believe she was chosen out of such stiff competition.

The 26-year-old, who works for chemical company, AkzoNobel, said: “I wanted to do a PhD, but I really didn’t want to give up my job because I really love it.

“Someone mentioned the fellowships and I thought I might as well apply.

“I am honoured to have been chosen. I honestly could not believe I was one of the people they picked, when they just give out eight each year.

“It is really exciting and I can’t wait to get started.”

Louisa’s research into paint could have huge impacts on the environment and industry, especially in ship building.

She is researching to find a paint which can be applied even in very cold conditions.

Currently, when businesses coat a ship, for instance, the paint can only dry above a certain temperature. So in colder countries or areas companies have to build large heated warehouses and then take parts of the ship in piece by piece and paint them inside the warehouse.

Louisa, who studied her A-levels at St Robert of Newminster Catholic School and Sixth Form College, is looking at developing low energy coatings, which can be applied at reduced temperatures, potentially saving companies huge amounts of money across the world.

The Wearside scientist joined AkzoNobel straight from sixth form and worked while studying for her chemistry degree.

She will continue to work on her research full time at the company’s Felling plant.

Other projects chosen for the fellowships include research into a drug to inhibit DNA repair processes in cancerous cells, research that could eradicate hospital superbugs, research into technology to recover fingerprints from metal surfaces and a snake robot for on-wing inspections of jet engines.

Bernard Taylor, chairman of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, said: “Now more than ever, we need be doing everything we can to turn fledgling ideas into commercial reality to maintain the pace of innovation. Our Industrial Fellowships are a crucial part of bridging the gap between research and industry, ensuring that the very best ideas that have the potential to impact society are given every chance to succeed.”