PhD student enjoys the sweet taste of success

An examination of the chemical complexities behind some of the most delectable patisseries and chocolates has seen a Plymouth University PhD student shortlisted for a national award.

Charlotte Levy is one of 10 finalists in the 2014 Chemistry World Science Communication Competition, which invited writers to explore the dual themes of chemistry and art.

The 25-year-old from Totnes has always had a passion for cooking and chose to combine that with her knowledge of particle chemistry for her piece – L’Art de la Patisserie et le Chocolat.

It features sections about the cocoa bean particles in liquid chocolate used by world-leading chocolatiers, and details of the chemistry behind making the perfect meringues for macarons.

Charlotte said:

“Everyone in our office is into cooking and as we tried making different things I became interested in the chemistry behind it all. I began to explore the different methods and techniques used in chocolate and sweet making, and the ways that altering its chemical properties can change the nature of the product. All the best chocolate manufacturers have chemists on their staff, and this competition has unlocked a real passion, one that I am now considering pursuing once my PhD is complete.”

This is not the first award nomination Charlotte has received during her time at Plymouth University.

During her undergraduate studies, which saw her awarded a First in BSc (Hons) Applied Chemistry, she was part of the winning team for the 2010 Chemistry FLUX event and secured a place on the prestigious International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE) training scheme, working in Argentina. She was later named as IAESTE’s Trainee of the Year.

Charlotte was also Student of the Year in the University’s 2011 Vice-Chancellor’s Enterprise Awards, and in 2012 received a Santander Language Scholarship, which enabled her to complete an intensive summer Spanish course at the University of Salamanca.


Charlotte Levy, who is one of 10 finalists in the 2014 Chemistry World Science Communication Competition, said:

All the best chocolate manufacturers have chemists on their staff, and this competition has unlocked a real passion, one that I am now considering pursuing once my PhD is complete

For this competition, entrants needed to submit an 800-word article exploring some of the many ways that chemistry and art interact, from the painter’s palette to the aesthetics of scientific representations and collaborations between chemists and artists.

It was open to anyone with knowledge of, and an interest in, science communication anywhere in the world, with entries received from school children and students, teachers and technicians, researchers and artists.

The winner will be announced at a ceremony in London in March, and they will receive £500, the opportunity to take part in a special assignment with Chemistry World and AkzoNobel, with their paper also being published in the Chemistry World magazine.