Study What You Love … Outside of the Lab!

Click the link to be taken to my blog post on the University of Nottingham’s Study What You Love blog.

Study What You Love is a great campaign by the university to encourage students to take degrees which really interest you, rather than taking something you don’t like in the hope of better career prospects. As the website says, it’s about seeing your course as a series of opportunities, not assignments, and gaining transferable skills which will be useful to you when you graduate.

Chemistry and related subjects are regarded as very strong and employable degrees, but with the high workload and difficult to understand concepts, it really helps to find it enjoyable and inspiring. I’ve loved chemistry since I was 16, and it meant I could engage with my lecture and lab material so much more fully than some of my peers, and in doing so I achieved good exam results and a 1st class degree. However, I often saw those who took chemistry because they didn’t know what else to take, or because it was regarded as the ‘better degree’ of the subjects they studied at A-level. They didn’t enjoy their work, and often got lower grades as a result.

My blog post highlights what I love about my PhD outside of the lab, to give people interested in studying a PhD an idea of what else they could take part in outside of their research. A PhD doesn’t have to just be hours slaving in the lab, and other opportunities can make your experience more enjoyable, and boost your CV.

If you want to learn more about the Study What You Love campaign, you can find the website here.


Nottingham Cafe Scientifique: From Chemical Weapons to Chemotherapy


If you find yourself in the East Midlands area this Monday, you might want think about visiting the Nottingham Cafe Scientifique, being held at Lord Robert’s Pub. The speaker will be Rob Stockman, from the University of Nottingham, who is an excellent speaker, and will talk to the public about the unusual link between deadly chemicals and medicines.

If you’ve never heard of Cafe Scientifiques, they are events held around the world which invite scientists to speak to members of the public, without any slides to hide behind, about their work and be grilled for up to an hour with whatever questions are fired at them.

Unlike traditional academic talks, they must be understandable for a general audience, as the listeners may have no scientific background whatsoever. This, combined with the unusual questions non-scientists come up with provides an entertaining but thought-provoking evening for audience and speaker alike.

There is absolutely no cost for the event, you simply turn up, buy a drink, and listen to some new and interesting science.Then, you get to ask as many questions as you like.

If you aren’t in the Nottingham area, you can find your own nearest Cafe on this website – or you can even start your own!

Many scientists don’t have an opportunity to present their work to the public, where a lack of scientific training leads to questions and discussions which you might not have considered before. It’s a great opportunity to think about your own research in a completely different way, and invites you to reevaluate your research goals when you’re inevitably asked ‘…but what’s the point?”.

If you’re not quite brave enough to talk yourself yet, I suggest that you try and attend a Cafe and see what you think of the experience as an audience member. It’s always fun to find out about new and exciting research, and to see what the public’s opinion is of science right now.

Have a look on the website, and see what you think!


From Nanoreactors to New Medicines – Chemistry Research at the University of Nottingham

This link will lead you to an article I recently wrote which has been published on the website of the University of Nottingham’s student magazine, Impact.

Here, I give a snapshot of some of the cutting edge and exciting research that is being carried out at our School of Chemistry. The magazine is primarily aimed at undergraduates at the University, who I think aren’t always aware of what important research is being carried out right here on our campus. This goes for other Schools as well, and Impact are hoping to feature more of Nottingham’s research on a regular basis.

Research isn’t always an obvious part of a university’s activities to undergraduates and the general public alike, but it is a vital aspect of every University, and high-quality research is a key driving force behind a University’s rankings, reputation and ability to gain funding.

The School of Chemistry here at Nottingham is undertaking excellent research in all areas of chemistry, and this article highlights just a few examples of this. I’m very proud of my department and, given a higher word limit, I could go on and on about our research.

I personally think it’s very important for students and staff at any university to be aware of what research is being done in their department. Often, if you just take a look, you find there’s something being worked on that you had no idea about, and that it’s something you’re actually really fascinated about once you look into it.

I won’t turn this post into an advert for our department,  but I do recommend that you take a look at my article if you’d like to get a flavour of what’s going on here. There’s some very high-quality research being done at Nottingham in all areas of chemistry, and you can find out more information on the School of Chemistry website. There’s bound to be something you’re interested in!