University of Bristol (2009 – 2013)
MSci in Chemistry with a Year in Industry
AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline
PhD student working in Industry
University of Strathclyde/ GlaxoSmithKline
Favourite thing to do in my job: Experiments that have never been done before. That’s when science gets creative – you solve problems and become an inventor :D
Improving enzymes to help make medicines sustainably
I am interested in using new scientific technologies to make our culture more sustainable.
All the time, people are discovering new medicines to help a growing and aging population (there are now 7 billion people in the world…). But actually making these medicines is expensive and can be harmful to the environment. I’m interested in using ‘green chemistry’ to tackle this problem.
Enzymes (complicated protein molecules which make chemical reactions go faster) are a great example of green chemistry – they’re cheap, efficient and don’t make toxic waste. In the future we’d like to use enzymes for more processes in the chemical industry – it is just up to us researchers to help discover them!
My Typical Day
80% in the lab, setting up reactions and experiments – the rest is planning, writing up and reading. Oh and the all important lunch break!
My research covers lots of different areas. It’s a mixture of chemistry, biology and computer modelling, I never end up doing the same thing for more than a few weeks at a time – although I am pretty much always wearing my lab coat and specs!
Chemistry: Planning, setting up and analysing reactions to make (or at least try to!) new compounds.
Biology: Using bacteria to make the proteins I am interested in.
Then see what the enzymes do to the compounds I have made 🙂
Computer modelling: Using software to model what is happening inside the enzyme – how does it work and which bits of the protein molecule are important. How could we change the protein to make it better at doing chemical reactions?
What I'd do with the prize money
I’d run a competition in schools for you to carry out your own piece of research and discover something new- not all scientists wear white coats! The prize? A ‘Green Chemistry Starter Pack’ for your school.
Scientists don’t all wear white coats.
A lot of scientists don’t even work in a lab!
You often don’t need fancy equipment, a PhD or goofy glasses to do great sceince – anyone can be a scientist and help understand and discover more about our world.
This is the message I’d like to get accross if I won the money. I’d run a competition among schools (exact task still undecided, but maybe ‘who can make the stickiest glue in the kitchen – and how do you measure it?.. I’ll post up more ideas as I have them!)
The winner would receive a £50 prize and a ‘Green Chemistry Starter Pack’ for their school, including a DVD covering the basics of green chemistry, a handbook of green chemistry experiments and some of the equipment to get you going.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Creative, inquisitive and enthusiastic
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Going to Madrid for a conference was a highlight!
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
The idea that I’m working on something no one has worked on before – sky’s the limit!
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Nope, I was pretty well behaved back then!
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
An architect or a doctor
Who is your favourite singer or band?
The Cat Empire (go and listen to their most recent album..)
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Played in a concert at the Royal Albert Hall!
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
1-To be able to freeze time – there are so many things I want to do but no time to do them all! 2-I wish I didn’t like cheese so much 3- I wish I was fluent in another language
Tell us a joke.
I wish I knew a decent science joke, but all the good ones Argon..