Career Path: Science publishing – Meet the editor

What area of science are you working in?

I am the chief editor of Nature Reviews Materials – a journal published by Springer Nature. We launched in January 2016 and, as the first journal in the physical sciences within the Nature Reviews family, this was an exciting challenge. As its name suggests, we feature articles covering all topics of materials science — from condensed matter physics to spider silk, and from porous materials to materials for batteries.

I have been an editor for the past 13 years and for most of this time I have worked on the editorial team of a primary research journal.

Studying Natural Sciences at Murray Edwards, specialising in Chemistry in the latter years, gave me an excellent broad base that I find very useful even 20 years on.

I also engage with scientists – mostly in academia – and the fact that I spent time doing my own research, during my PhD years at the University of Durham, enables me to have some empathy with the highs and lows of scientific research.

What appeals to you about the work that you do?

As an editor on a primary research journal, you really feel like you’re at the coal face of research.  On a daily basis, you see a range of articles submitted to the journal and in amongst these could be a real gem. This is very exciting, especially because you never know when it’s going to happen.  Then, overseeing the peer-review process can be challenging and fascinating.

As an editor, it is your responsibility to select manuscripts for publication – using your own knowledge and with the help of the peer-review process.

By selecting what we publish, we become a venue for scientists to go to if they want to read some of the most impactful research in their areas.

I really enjoy being able to improve the written quality of the articles we publish. There is little teaching given to students and young academics on how to write a scientific article and most academics are grateful for the guidance we give them during the editing process. I find this part of the job very satisfying and enjoy helping them communicate their ideas in a clearer way.

How does what you do contribute to what we know or what we do?

As a Reviews journal, we offer a place for world-leading academics to give their opinions on the fields that they are specialists in. This can pose questions to their community that need to be addressed and on occasions act like a ‘call to action’ for the course of a field to be re-thought.

Where do you see the exciting challenges ahead?

In science publishing, the challenge is to move with the digital age and ensure that, as the readership moves to a generation more accustomed to social media outlets, that the content is easily reachable in this form.  Thinking more widely, the challenges for our community are those associated with funding. For researchers at universities in the UK – particularly Cambridge – the competition is probably higher than it’s ever been and this requires them to acknowledge this and raise their standards. The challenge to the researchers is to choose the right problems to work on, collaborate, and work hard to produce results and to communicate their results to the best of their abilities.

Why would you encourage young women today to consider choosing sciences?

For me personally, as an editor, I have found a role that enables me to use my science background and work in an environment with engaging colleagues. The role also has an aspect of it which requires you to work by yourself – for example, during the edit of an article and I can work away from the office while I complete these tasks.  As a result, I can manage my time to work around my family and I have had 3 children during my time with my current employer.

And finally, I have been lucky enough to witness the most prestigious award in science when my father, Fraser Stoddart, won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in October 2016.  The trip to Stockholm, meeting Barack Obama at the White House and a subsequent trip to China, have been huge highlights in recent months.  During this time, I met many inspiring men and women, who are truly committed to advancing science and enabling breakthroughs to happen and be acknowledged.

The possibilities are endless, if you wish to become a scientist.

Dr Alison Stoddart
Alumna

Career Path: Benefiting Society Through Chemical Manufacturing

My educational background gave me a passion for applied science and engineering, and a summer vacation job in the chemical industry gave me an appreciation for the wide variety of opportunities available in manufacturing. I studied Chemical Engineering (at the University of Cambridge) and later in my career I undertook an MBA at Leeds University Management School.

Today, I work for a UK-based medium sized chemical manufacturing organisation which employs just over 200 people. I am responsible for the company’s Commercial activities – my job has many elements including strategic planning, marketing, stakeholder engagement and PR , business development, client management, project management and of course management of people as individuals and as teams.  A significant part of my role, together with my senior management team colleagues, is to provide leadership and direction to enable us to grow our business.

At Briar we work in partnership with our customers to manufacture products that benefit society.

For example, we synthesise molecules that help farmers to maintain a healthy crop, often in highly challenging climates, and veterinary products that prevent disease in cattle and sheep.

From our factory in Norwich we export products to every continent across the globe, and with most of our customers being large multi-national organisations, it means that inevitably I need to travel quite extensively. Business travel is not glamorous and is certainly not for everyone; it does involve a lot of long hours, being away from home, getting stuck in airports and you need to possess a large reserve of stamina and resourcefulness! However, it does suit me and I have been privileged to meet many fascinating people over the years and have learned a great deal about cultural awareness and trust in building long-standing relationships. The role is facilitated by my high energy levels, and satisfies my natural propensity for curiosity, plus my instincts for making connections between people to develop business opportunities, and therefore I find it highly stimulating.

It combines Science and Engineering with creativity.

At the time of writing this piece I am on day 3 of a 4 day shoot to produce a corporate video! I also enjoy the variety and the challenges presented by constant changes (such as BREXIT) in the global business environment – a business’ ability to adapt and evolve is critical, and the people with it. It’s a demanding  business world but none the less, it’s highly rewarding.

Susan Brench
Alumna

Head of Commercial, Briar Chemicals Ltd.

Career Path: Women in STEM – working together

Women make up nearly half of the UK workforce but only around 13% of those working in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) occupations, and less than 20% of senior managers in the City

In 2011, sitting in a university dorm room in Cambridge, I was part of a lengthy conversation amongst science students which stumbled into the topic of women in STEM.  Why do there still seem to be fewer women in most STEM roles compared to men? And what could we do to help change this?

4 years later, after graduating and having all followed differing career paths, we came back to the question of how we could share our experiences and provide some support to young women looking to pursue their interest in traditionally male-dominated fields. We decided to launch a small charity and designed a programme focusing on mentoring female students in year 12 (lower sixth).

Mentoring has been an rewarding and eye-opening experience for us (as well as we hope for our mentees) and we have learnt that there are a lot of opportunities available for budding young scientists and mathematicians even before reaching university or starting an apprenticeship. Through sharing networks and searching online, the students we have worked with have met with young engineers, work-shadowed at leading biochemistry companies and even completed work experience at the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh. This has on occasion required a little persistence and bravery to step outside of their comfort zones but they have invariably been rewarded by scientists and academics who are more than happy to support others in exploring possible future career options.

We also want to help change community attitudes towards women in STEM and finance. Participants on the programme are encouraged to organise an event so that they can in turn become a positive role model in their local communities. One of our students went back to her junior school to run a science experience day whilst another organised a ‘women in science’ assembly.

These are our own career choices, just a few of the many open to those with degrees in science.

Freya Scoates, Research Scientist

I am a Senior Research Scientist who runs projects developing pesticides and specialising in entomology (the study of insects). Most days I am either planning, running or reporting on the most recent studies. This includes counting insects, designing statistical analyses and giving presentations on the results. I enjoy the challenge of running complex projects but sometimes struggle with many trips in and out of grain silos!

Paddie Ingleton – Science Teacher

I am a science teacher in an inner-city comprehensive school. I nominally spend my days assessing pupil work and planning lessons, but the real challenge of what I do is trying to cultivate a classroom where pupils are engaged with the learning and do well both academically and otherwise. I enjoy the challenge of trying to find the best ways to help pupils learn, and am always surprised by their humour and resilience.

Emily Hardy – Biochemistry Scientist

I work on custom cell-line engineering projects using genome editing tools such as CRISPR-Cas9. I work on the design, production and validation of these cell lines which can then be used by our clients as models for disease or novel drug screening. I spend the majority of my time doing cell culture, designing experiments and analysing results.

Helen Gaffney, Investment Associate

I am an Investment Associate in a Private Equity firm. We assess and buy companies and then work with their management teams to try to improve their profitability. A typical day can include running analysis on sales data or building a financial model to understand better how a particular company could improve. I enjoying applying the mathematical and general analytical skill I learnt whilst studying science to real-life situations. I am also glad to have gained a deeper understanding about how the world around me works even where this is not directly related to my day-to-day work.

Helen & the Equilateral Team
http://www.equilateralfoundation.co.uk/

Career Path: Keeping up with the changes

17a-donna-2There are two lectures that stick in my mind about career guidance while at Cambridge studying Computer Science.  One advised that the ONLY career path worth doing was to get a smart suit, join one of three specific consultancies, move onto one of four specific banks, make your money by age thirty and retire to do the ‘programming stuff’.  I remember bristling at how restrictive this felt and how much the lecturer’s attitude echoed of the ‘Old Boy Network’.  [Editor’s comment : we encourage students to consider a very wide range of roles in our advice now!]

The second lecture was not specifically about careers, but the first of learning computer programming skills – using ‘BCP’, which is the forerunner to the more successful, yet still dated, ‘C’ language.  This seemed pointless initially – more historical footnote than of any practical use.  But key to these lectures was that this helped teach the basics of programming.

We learn the techniques, the lecturer explained, and we can adapt to any programming language.

This gave me confidence when applying to graduate schemes with a variety of technology companies.  Whatever I ended up doing, I could adapt if I didn’t enjoy it and try other things.  Initially, I joined a software company who did specialist software for pharmacies and finance companies, starting my future in software engineering.  My current role, now twenty years on, is a technical manager in charge of a team of 11 people who support a key fundraising system of Cancer Research UK, (CRUK).  What I have found over these 20 years is how much the technological businesses have to change to keep up technology itself and how those employed must adapt too.  My software company changed into a consultancy and branched out to provide technical expertise in a variety of business software.  Changing with my employers, I learned to become a technical specialist, often jumping and learning a new software package every few months.  As my own life changed and I had a family, I found returning to work after maternity leave easier, as I could pick up quickly what new direction the company had taken.

CRUK’s ambition is to improve survival rates of those with cancer to be 3 out of 4.  While my role in CRUK is not to do with research, I am excited to be part of this effort.  To achieve this vision, the charity needs to keep its technology up to date and soon our key fundraising system is to be replaced – this is a large change for the charity, involving overhauling of business processes, data transformations and ensuring the right technologies and skilled people are in place to continue to support the great work the charity is doing.

I am looking forward to this opportunity to use my own experience in learning changed technologies and work towards this goal in my role.

Donna Askew
Alumna

Career Path: Understanding dark matter – a collaborative venture

16a-sarah-williamsAs a researcher on the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, one of the things I love about my job is that on a day-to-day basis I get to interact with scientists from different backgrounds all around the world. The ATLAS collaboration includes around 3000 physicists from over 175 institutes around the world, all working together to answer fundamental questions about the elementary particles and interactions in the universe.

My work focuses on searches for new particles at the LHC, and in particular those that could help explain what makes up Dark Matter in the universe.

Astrophysicists now believe that dark matter makes up nearly 25% of the mass energy content of the universe (with only 4% being normal `baryonic matter’ which we can explain and the rest being dark energy, a mysterious substance that actually causes the expansion of the universe to accelerate). Although we don’t currently know what dark matter is made of, there is strong evidence that it could constitute a “weakly interacting massive particle” (or WIMP) which could thus be searched for in the high energy collisions at the LHC.

The LHC collides bunches of protons together around 40 million times a second, and recording these collisions requires enormous detectors (the ATLAS detector is around half the size of Notre Dam Cathedral in Paris and weighs as much as the Eiffel tower). Most particles produced in collisions decay instantly so we can only indirectly infer their existence by trying to reconstruct information from their decay products. The data is read off the detector, reconstructed and stored at large computing sites all over the world waiting to be analysed offline by particle physicists.

It is very rare to perform a LHC search on your own, it normally takes a group of a dozen or more physicists working together to produce the final result.

For example, I tend to work a lot on the statistical analysis, which considers quantitatively the level of agreement between the observed data and the prediction based on the Standard Model (which encapsulates our current understanding of the elementary particles on the universe).

Another aspect of my work that I appreciate is the variety of skills that I have gained and used over the years in carrying out my research. The large volumes of LHC data makes computer programming unavoidable, so I have had to learn a variety of programming languages including c++ and python. In addition to that, working in such a large collaboration requires strong communication skills. Before I started my PhD I had very limited experience of public speaking however I very quickly became accustomed to presenting on a weekly basis. I have also had the opportunity to present at international conferences around the world, including in Taipei, Moscow and later this month in Adelaide.

There are so many fundamental questions within the sciences that are waiting to be answered.

Challenges range from finding alternative energy sources that can be exploited on a global scale, to developing new techniques for the diagnosis and treatment of life-threatening diseases.  We need young women (and men) with a passion for new knowledge, the creativity to solve problems and the personal qualities to engage effectively in interdisciplinary teams.  It’s an exciting and rewarding field and can provide you with many unexpected opportunities along the way.

Sarah Williams
Alumna

Career Path: Mineral Sciences to People Management – applying scientific approaches in unlikely ways

Career15a-clare-and-koalaOver the 10 years since I began studying Natural Sciences at Murray Edwards, I have come to realise that although I don’t use the scientific knowledge that I gained during my degree (at all!), I do use the scientific skills and approach to learning that I gained (a lot!).

While at Murray Edwards I spent a lot of my time and energy doing people-focussed things alongside my studies, within and beyond the college. It was this experience that helped me realise that combining my scientific approach to work and problem solving, but also involving people and teams, was where I wanted to focus my energies. This has turned into a career in Human Resources focussing on Organisational Development. I work with people across organisations to understand underlying business issues, and support people and teams to get the most out of their work and deliver the best possible results. This means managing change projects to make work more efficient and effective, and designing and delivering training, resources and team events.

I enjoy my work because it requires a combination of big thinking and detail focus. On one hand I have to understand an organisation’s strategy at a high level and the wide range of factors that may be affecting an organisation’s performance, internally and externally (like understanding overarching scientific theory and models). On the other hand, I look at specific and detailed data, to investigate particular teams’ ways of working more closely, and to identify underlying issues and problems (like gathering and analysing data in scientific research).

I have come to realise that I use scientific approaches in my work more often than you might expect:

  • At the heart of working in Organisational Development is having an understanding of relevant theories and models – these might be about learning and development, motivation and engagement, or change management. I find out what knowledge has already been developed and keep up to date with what research has already been done. Most importantly I have to combine these models and theories into my own understanding of the field.
  • I consider business problems as interesting questions – “why is this team getting lower customer service feedback than the rest of the department?” or “if we change a particular system, how will that affect ways of working across the organisation?”
  • By applying existing knowledge to the question at hand, I can identify potential answers and come up with a hypothesis – “people in the team are not as engaged with their work, which means they aren’t giving as good customer service”
  • I test my hypotheses by gathering and analysing data – recent employee engagement surveys, feedback from teams and from customers, or performance data. This can mean discovering that the answer to the question is not what I expected. I must be open to changing my thinking based on the evidence I observe.
  • Working with managers to improve ways of working, I communicate relevant theories and describe how it applies to their context in an understandable way, and I have to share and explain the findings from my analysis.

Having studied sciences I am able think critically about what I see and what I know, I can use what I observe to challenge my thinking, and I can put my work into much bigger context. I am excited about continuing to apply the skills I learned in my science degree to all my jobs in the future – I have found that these skills are incredibly transferable between organisations (I have worked in charities, a museum and in food retail), as well as countries (I have recently moved from London to Melbourne, Australia!). I would encourage everyone to consider study sciences as it opens up so many possibilities – it absolutely doesn’t mean you will only be able to do jobs labelled as “scientist”, as you can take a scientific approach to anything you do.

Clare Tyson
Alumna

Career Path: Developmental Biology Shapes My World

dsc_0816CareerMy favourite scientific quotation: “From the egg, all” would be an apt motto for a women’s college in the 21st century but was actually immortalised by the famous Cambridge physician William Harvey almost four hundred years ago as the Latin epigraph “Ex ovo omnia”. As a developmental biologist, I share Harvey’s fascination with embryology, the process by which a fertilised egg develops into a precisely patterned organism. Fortunately for me, there have been phenomenal advances in social attitudes and scientific techniques since Harvey’s era: women are now active members of the scientific research community and astounding recent technical developments have provided us with experimental tools to investigate the genesis of life.

I became intrigued by developmental biology as an undergraduate at Cambridge, inspired by some lecturers who used frogs as a model organism to understand developmental processes. Frog eggs are large and externally fertilised, allowing scientists easy access to the vital first stages of embryogenesis, when the fertilised egg cleaves into a ball of cells, which look similar to each other but have already taken on distinct identities and will ultimately go on to form different embryonic structures.  The aim of developmental biologists is to understand the regulatory mechanisms that give rise to the multitude of cell types in an adult organism. Some key developmental genes identified in amphibian studies cause inherited human birth defects and many frog labs receive medical research funding.

Science is an international endeavour so scientists often go to different labs to gain specific research expertise. I joined frog labs in Canada and the U.S. before returning to Cambridge. The opportunity to live in different countries within an international community of scholars and to attend international meetings and field trips is a great benefit of a career in academic science.

I twice went to Puerto Rico to collect coqui frogs; these are nocturnal tree frogs that live in the rainforest and we collected at night, leaving the days free for sightseeing! Coqui are direct developing frogs, hatching as tiny froglets. I discovered that though they don’t have a free-living tadpole, coqui embryos undergo a cryptic metamorphosis in the egg.

Recently, I have applied my knowledge of developmental signalling processes to coax stem cells down a particular developmental route, making the endothelial cells that line blood vessels. Such “directed differentiation” holds great promise for regenerative medicine. However, the practical aspect is hugely laborious as stem cells require daily nurturing, including weekends and holidays!

dsc_0860Currently, I am nurturing another organism, my four-year-old son, though I still participate in the scientific process by writing scientific articles with my colleagues in the Department of Medicine. I co-ordinate the science/technology strand of our Gateway Academic Development Programme at Murray Edwards, helping freshers transition to university learning, and I’ve participated in a variety of science outreach events. As a Director of Studies and a Tutor, I interact with many students and am amazed by the resourcefulness of our STEMM students, who demonstrate that a scientific education provides a versatile skill-set for life.

Dr Liz Callery
Fellow, Director of Studies and Tutor

Career Path: Blending research and patient care as a GP

1a-fiona-walter-photo
Career
The World Health Organisation defines general practice as providing ‘continuous, comprehensive, co-ordinated and personalised whole-patient care to individuals, families and their communities’. As soon as I completed my clinical training I joined a GP training scheme in Oxfordshire, and have loved being a GP for more than 30 years since then. At its core it’s about being comfortable with being a ‘generalist’ and have some expertise across all clinical conditions, rather than a being a ‘specialist’ with in-depth expertise in one (often very focused) area. When patients first seek help in primary care their problems may be vague or ill-defined- a GP’s expertise lies in working out whether this needs further investigation or referral, or whether the patient can be reassured. One of the most fulfilling parts of being a GP is that we often care for a number of family members over many years. Interestingly, analyses of data from the US, UK and Europe have shown that having more GPs is associated not only with better health outcomes, but also with better patient experience.

After working as a GP partner for more than 12 years, I moved to Cambridge and soon met the newly appointed Foundation Chair of General Practice (Ann Louise Kinmonth, also a New Hall alumna) – she encouraged me to consider a clinical academic career. While continuing to work as a part-time GP, I completed a Masters course and then a doctorate. I was fascinated to find that most of the evidence that we used to care for our primary care patients had arisen from less relevant research from specialist care, and that there was a real need for evidence from the primary care setting.

I now lead the Primary Care Cancer Research group at the University of Cambridge- so, it’s never too late for a mid-career change!

While the career of an academic GP can be demanding, it is also very rewarding. I still work as a GP, but only for one day a week. The rest of the week is spent mainly on research, with some under- and post-graduate teaching. My research focuses on developing patient and GP interventions to help diagnose cancer earlier, as there is plenty of evidence that, for most cancers, a timely diagnosis allows curative treatment and better outcomes. Current projects are researching cancers of the skin, oesophagus, stomach, brain, breast and pancreas. I feel very privileged to work alongside world leaders in cancer screening, early detection and treatment on the Cambridge Biomedical campus, and some of my research findings have already led to changes in NHS guidance for patient care.

What’s next? My research will continue to focus on new and cost-effective approaches for preventing and diagnosing cancer.

One example is the impact of technological advances on patient access to health information, and on the monitoring of symptoms and treatments by both patients and GPs. We need more clinical academics in general practice to take this important work forward.

Dr Fiona Walter MA MD FRCGP
Alumna

Fiona Walter (New Hall 1976) is Principal Researcher (Reader) in Primary Care Cancer Research at the University of Cambridge. She leads studies investigating cancer prevention, diagnosis and follow-up care, was Fellow of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge, and is Honorary Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Melbourne, Australia.

Career Path: From biology to consultancy, music, technology and…..

12A Claire Pettitt photoCareerI remember being jealous of those people at school who were certain what they wanted to do with their lives: the ones who wanted to be a vet, or a lawyer, and so had a pretty clear path mapped out towards that goal. In contrast, I had absolutely no idea where I wanted to end up; I was strong in several areas, from English and Music to Biology and Maths…and the prospect of narrowing things down horrified me, as I enjoyed working across several subjects!

Many years later, I’m pleased to have been able to maintain this desire for variety in my career to date, which has spanned a number of industries – none being remotely scientific. But I can say with confidence that I’m glad I chose to study science at university, as the skills I learned during my Natural Sciences degree at Cambridge have proved to be endlessly transferable.

I began my career in strategy consultancy, working on projects across industries from energy to healthcare equipment and private equity. After a couple of years, I felt frustrated with strategy work and wanted to ‘get my hands dirty’ by actually managing things myself. I couldn’t believe my luck when a client I was working with found out I was a keen classical musician and invited me to work at London Music Masters – the music charity he had founded. I became their Chief Operating Officer and stayed there for 3 years, learning everything there was to know about running, and funding, a startup organisation. This was the perfect grounding for my next role as Head of Operations & Finance at the social enterprise Spice, which runs the largest community currency scheme in the world. Most recently, I’ve moved into the tech industry with a similar role in an exciting and fast-growing software company, YouCanBook.me, which provides online scheduling solutions for entrepreneurs, small businesses and big companies all over the world.

My science background has undoubtedly assisted me in my career in many ways. Here are some of them…

  • Critical thinking. Science demands that you take a close look at the evidence presented and consider how best to interpret it. I’ve certainly found this helpful when trying to make tough decisions at work; often it’s important to look at the data rather than simply trusting your instincts. An example would be, at London Music Masters, deciding the best way to focus fundraising efforts to maximise the returns.
  • Unravelling complexity. Studying science involves being confronted with highly complex information, developing a detailed understanding of it, and ultimately taking it one step further. Throughout my career so far, I’ve regularly thrown myself into the deep end by taking on senior roles with no prior experience in that area and then proving that I can succeed. Knowing that I’m capable of quickly understanding and processing complex information has given me the confidence to progress more quickly and to push myself to discover what I’m truly capable of.
  • Continuous learning. Scientific knowledge is constantly progressing, so it’s essential to keep up to date with the latest developments. Being able to demonstrate a desire to continue learning throughout your career is a huge asset in any industry. For me, this hunger for new knowledge has persisted; I now follow numerous blogs and news articles relating to the tech industry, as well as continuously picking up new skills and technologies as they emerge.

Hopefully my diverse career path demonstrates that studying science doesn’t only lead you into science-related roles – it also prepares you for almost anything your working future may hold!

Claire Pettitt
Alumna

Career Path: Putting the pieces together

11A Zoe Wilson photo
CareerI have always felt a bit like rather than choosing to study chemistry, chemistry chose me.

There have been several times in my life so far when my career could have turned out completely different. These include when my inspirational high school chemistry teacher came out of retirement so my school would have a teacher for my final year and a chance conversation with my future PhD supervisor at a university open day which led to me completely changing my major before I started university. Even the decision to apply for a Royal Society Fellowship to move to the United Kingdom from New Zealand after my PhD (despite the fact that I was terrified of moving to the other side of the world, and quite convinced I wouldn’t stand a chance of getting the fellowship) could be considered to be a turning point. For this reason I have always felt incredibly lucky to have ended up in a field that I find so fascinating.

I would describe myself as a synthetic organic chemist – which basically means I find ways to make nature derived molecules from simple chemical building blocks. I work in the lab of Professor Steven Ley at The University of Cambridge as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate. Additionally, I am a Fellow at Murray Edwards College where I enjoy getting to discuss the intricacies of chemistry with such intelligent and friendly students.

One of my main interests is the synthesis of natural products. Natural products are complex molecules which are created by organisms for an array of purposes, whether it is defence from other organisms or to help keep the organism alive. These molecules often turn out to have interesting bioactivity, and many have been the starting point for pharmaceuticals used today.

What fascinates me about these molecules is putting together their complex structures in as elegant way as possible. They present a significant challenge because they often contain multiple reactive parts within the molecule. This means you have to plan the order which you will try to assemble the pieces incredibly carefully in order to build the whole molecule without destroying what you have already made. Often we need to be creative and invent entirely new ways to make the chemical bonds we need.

So why should women consider becoming chemists? Synthetic chemistry teaches you to think in a creative but critical way, as not only do we have to dream up interesting and clever ways to do things, we actually have to physically make the molecule to prove that our ideas were good (which is immensely satisfying when achieved!). Also, in a field where (especially at the higher levels) women are currently sadly underrepresented, bringing together people of different genders, backgrounds and opinions to think on the same problem from different perspectives, offers the potential to come up with solutions for the big problems – and you could be part of that!

Zoe Wilson
Fellow