Challenges in analysis of complex natural mixtures Faraday Discussion

13 - 15 May 2019, Edinburgh, United Kingdom

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Latest Advances in the Analysis of Complex Environmental Matrices

22 February 2019 09:15-16:35, London, United Kingdom


Structure determination of molecules contained within unresolved complex mixtures represents an unsolved question that continues to challenge physical and analytical chemistry. Most naturally occurring systems can be characterised as complex mixtures. These can be broadly divided according to the molecular sizes of their constituents, into mixtures of small or large molecules. The focus of this Faraday Discussion will be on the former, while the latter such as biomacromolecules, industrial polymers, or solid matrices are outside of its scope as such. Nevertheless, the processes that are used in analysing the data originating from these studies may be of interest. Examples of small molecule mixtures include:

  • environmental matrices such as soil, dissolved organic matter, organic molecules contained in atmospheric aerosol particles, or crude oil,
  • biofluids,
  • man-made mixtures of small molecules such as food, beverages or plant extracts. 

These systems are generally classed as “complex mixtures” or “unresolved complex mixtures (UCM)”, emphasising our current inability to separate their individual components. The techniques best positioned to tackle such mixtures experimentally include mass spectrometry, chromatography, NMR spectroscopy, or new alternative techniques, including combinations of the above methods. For the most part, people who work on the analysis of complex mixtures are driving the progress in exploiting new methodologies and their creative combinations.


  • Dealing with Complexity
This session will discuss latest advances and future directions of two specific techniques: mass spectrometry and chromatography, and their hyphenation. The emphasis will be on the latest methodologies in each of these fields.
  • High-resolution Techniques
High-resolution mass spectrometry is one of the most promising approaches to tackle the issues of structure determination of molecules locked in complex mixtures. This will be contrasted by another high-resolution technique, NMR spectroscopy, which has the capability to solve structures, but struggles with complexity. Are there ways of overcoming this limitations? Is the lower sensitivity of NMR a blessing or a curse?
  • Data Mining and Visualisation
This session will explore how chemometrics can assist all other techniques in the analysis of complex mixtures, where extracting information by data-driven analysis is a necessity. How can chemometrics, data mining, multivariate calibration or multi-way analysis be best applied to different types of complex mixtures? The importance of creating databases of primary data and their mining is expected to increase. What needs to be done to accelerate this trend?
  • Future Challenges and New Approaches
The closing session will look at new (hyphenated) experimental, multidimensional techniques, new instrumentation, advances in medical, and environmental sciences. In chemometrics we can for example ask, how best to combine molecular analysis with microbial speciation (based on DNA, RNA or MS sequencing) to advance soil ecology or studies of aquatic ecosystems? Can we unravel the molecular structures in complex mixtures by atomic force microscopy by “seeing”, rather than interpreting the spectroscopic data?


The Faraday Division have been organising high impact Faraday Discussions in rapidly developing areas of physical chemistry and its interfaces with other scientific disciplines for over 100 years. 

Faraday Discussions have a special format where research papers written by the speakers are distributed to all participants before the meeting, and most of the meeting is devoted to discussing the papers. Everyone contributes to the discussion - including presenting their own relevant research. The research papers and a record of the discussion are published in the journal Faraday Discussions. 

Learn more about Faraday Discussions here:
The format of the Faraday Discussions meeting is ideal for discussions that cross the boundaries of emerging experimental technologies and theoretical approaches. An additional benefit of the meeting is to bring together established researchers in the field with emerging investigators.echnologies and theoretical approaches.  


Structure determination of molecules contained within unresolved complex mixtures represents an unsolved problem that continues to challenge physical and analytical chemistry. This meeting will discuss a vision for developing the field of analysis of complex mixtures. It will be unique in bringing together scientists who may otherwise attend more specialised conferences focusing e.g. on their specific field of chromatography, NMR or MS, or biological metabolites or a specific environmental mixture. 
Abstract Submission

Oral Abstracts and Research Papers 

A full research paper containing new unpublished results always accompanies oral presentations at Faraday Discussions. Submit an oral/paper abstract by 27 August 2018 if you wish to be considered for an oral presentation and associated published paper. The oral/paper abstract should outline current research in progress. Authors of the selected abstracts must then submit a full research paper with a significant amount of new unpublished work by 3 December 2018

The research papers are reviewed upon submission and are sent to all delegates 4 weeks before the meeting so they can be read in advance. At the meeting the presenting author is allowed five minutes to highlight the main points of their paper, and the rest of the time is for discussion. The discussion is recorded and will be published alongside the research paper in the Faraday Discussion Volume. 

Poster Abstracts 

Submit your poster abstract by 4 March 2019. Posters are displayed throughout the meeting and a poster session is held on the first evening. The Faraday Division Poster Prize will be awarded to the best poster presented by a student at the conference. 

Travel grants are available for PhD students, postdocs within 10 years of completing their PhD and early career scientists within 10 years of leaving full time education. There are also a number of non-competitive travel grants available. See the bursaries section for more details.

Additional Information

Authors will be notified of the outcome of the review process within about 6 weeks of the submission deadline. The abstracts should be no longer than one A4 page in portrait layout. Please ensure you provide the details of the presenting author and indicate whether you are submitting an abstract for oral or poster presentation
Please read the registration information before registering.
Please note accommodation is not included in the registration fee.

Registration includes:
  • Attendance at the sessions 
  • Refreshments throughout the meeting
  • Lunch on all three days
  • Attendance at the poster drinks reception on Monday 13 May
  • Attendance at the conference dinner on Tuesday 14 May
  • A copy of the discussion pre-prints
  • A copy of the final theme issue of Faraday Discussion Volume containing papers presented at the Discussion (issued approximately 6 months after the meeting)**
  • For non-member registrants, membership of the Royal Society of Chemistry until the end of 2019
Registration fees are as follows:
Early Bird
(by 25 March 2019)
(by 15 April 2019)
Member* £355 £410
Non-Member*** £460 £515
Student Member* £170 £225
Student Non-Member £195 £250

Registration fees are VAT exempt.

  * If you are an Royal Society of Chemistry member and wish to register for this meeting, please select the member option on the online registration page. You will need to enter your membership number.

  **Excluding students, who can order the volume at a reduced price at the conference. 

 ***For non-member registrants, affiliate membership of the Royal Society of Chemistry until the end of 2019, the affiliate membership application will be processed and commence once the registrant has attended the event.  

Student Delegates

In order to encourage undergraduate or postgraduate students to attend the Discussion, a reduced conference fee (to include a set of pre-prints but not the final Discussion Volume) is available. This fee applies to those undertaking a full time course for a recognised degree or a diploma at a university or equivalent institution.

 A copy of the publication may be purchased at less than half price, only for orders placed at the meeting where an application form will be made available.   

Conference Dinner

The conference dinner on Tuesday 14 May 2019 and is included in the regsitration fee.
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Terms and Conditions for Events run by the Royal Society of Chemistry

We have two types of grants available to attend this meeting: 
  • A limited number of non-competitive travel grants of up to £200 are available for PhD students and early career scientists. These are assigned on a first come, first served basis.  Applicants must be Royal Society of Chemistry members of any level at the time of making their application
  • Competitive grants of up to £800 are available to assist with international travel expenses for PhD students, postdocs within 10 years of completing their PhD and early career scientists (including technicians and industrialists) within 10 years of leaving full time education. In addition, applicants must be Royal Society of Chemistry members of any level at the time of making their application. 
To take advantage of the competitive grants and many other benefits, become a member. Follow the link on the right hand side to find out more and join today!

Applications for either grant should be submitted as early as possible, but at least 8 weeks in advance of the start of the meeting (18 March 2019) Please see respective terms & conditions for full eligibility information.
Sponsorship & supporting organisations
A selection of sponsorship opportunities is available for companies who would like to promote their activities at Challenges in Analysis of Complex Natural Mixtures Faraday Discussion 

As well as booking a table top exhibition space, there are opportunities to sponsor social events, advertise in the abstract book or place a promotional item in delegate packs. For further information and prices please download the sponsorship menu from this page.

Please note that exhibition spaces are limited, spaces will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

If you would like more information about sponsoring Challenges in Analysis of Complex Natural Mixtures Faraday Discussion , please contact the Commercial Sales Department at the Royal Society of Chemistry ( Sponsorship Menu
John McIntyre Conference Centre

John McIntyre Conference Centre, University of Edinburgh, 18 Holyrood Park Road, Edinburgh, EH16 5AY, United Kingdom

There is a limited number of rooms available to book on campus.  You can book these as part of the registration process.  £258 for 2 nights, B&B (single, en-suite room).

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