Sean Beats

Where are you from and why did you choose to study chemistry at the University of Aberdeen?

I am from Peterhead, a town just 30 miles north of Aberdeen.  I chose to study Chemistry at university as I was always interested in the sciences at school and knew this degree would leave lots of career doors open (e.g. I could have went into the oil/gas sector, pharmaceuticals, food and drink industry etc.).  I chose the University of Aberdeen in part because of location but also because the MChem course was accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry. I also attended the University of Aberdeen Open Day which was a good experience.

What degree/degrees did you study?

My Undergraduate degree was the 5 year ‘MChem’, Masters of Chemistry course. After that I decided that I’d like to become a teacher so I did a postgraduate degree in education, specifically the PGDE Secondary: Biology and Chemistry with Science course.  Interestingly, whilst my undergraduate degree was in chemistry, my course choices in 1st and 2nd year were predominantly biology which meant I met the requirements to become a dual qualified teacher.

What challenges did you encounter during your studies and how did the department assist?

I don’t recall encountering any major challenges throughout my degree, however I can say that all lecturers were very approachable if you had any questions about lecture content/coursework. They readily responded to queries by email or I was welcome to ‘drop in’ and see them in their office to ask for assistance.

What are you doing now?

After finishing my teaching qualification I was able to secure a job as a chemistry teacher at Fraserburgh Academy and I am thoroughly enjoying my career thus far!

How do you feel your degree benefited you?

My degree has benefited me by giving me the subject knowledge required to teach all levels of the SQA curriculum. I am also able to give pupils advice and guidance in regard to experiences at University.

What was your favourite thing about studying chemistry at the University of Aberdeen?

I particularly enjoyed the mixture of topics taught which covered the main branches of chemistry at all levels (i.e., inorganic, organic, analytical and physical chemistry).  It was also nice that this idea wasn’t just associated with lectures but rolled over into practical lab sessions as well.

Any other relevant information you wish to share?

The MChem degree allowed me to undertake a research placement for a semester in Barcelona. This was an amazing opportunity on a personal level and allowed me to work in a leading biomaterials research institute.  We were also able to publish the results in a scientific journal which was very satisfying.
 

Dr Steven Campbell

Where are you from and why did you choose to study chemistry at the University of Aberdeen?

I grew up in Aberdeen and knew I wanted to study chemistry.  I choose the University of Aberdeen in part because of the location but also because the university ranking for chemistry was good.

What degree/degrees did you study?

I studied an undergraduate BSc in chemistry.  In my 4th year my honours project was in the area of physical chemistry and more specifically catalysis.  This led me to an industry sponsored PhD in the same research group studying new catalysts for emission control technology.

What challenges did you encounter during your studies and how did the department assist?

I had several challenges, one of which involved me taking a year out between third and fourth year.  While going through this period, I received excellent support from both my advisor in the department and the academic staff running the course. They all gave me great advice and encouraged me to look at the long-term implications and what the best course of action was for that.  When I came back from my 4th year I found the department to be genuinely welcoming and pleased to see me back.  I then continued to receive support with anything that I needed throughout the duration of my PhD both from an academic and non-academic perspective. 

What are you doing now?

I am currently working at Shell as a Production Technologist where I am responsible for technical inputs for field developments, production and field optimisation and running a rig intervention programme.  My first role after graduating was in the Shell Fuels research team where I was involved in developing the current Shell fuels and published several papers in SAE on fuel response in spark ignition engines.

How do you feel your degree benefited you?

My degree benefited me by giving me a thorough understanding of the fundamental and advanced chemistry which underpins my job on a day to day basis.  In addition to the academic aspects, I gained skills in other areas which are readily transferrable to a business environment (i.e., communication, problem solving and analytical thinking).  Working in conjunction with industrial sponsors was a great experience which helped me to look at research from an industrial perspective.  

What was your favourite thing about studying chemistry at the University of Aberdeen?

The wide array of expertise across a range of disciplines and the knowledge that you are interacting and learning form world experts every day. 

Any other relevant information you wish to share?

The staff and colleagues that I dealt with in the department were fantastic and I have made friends for life.  As part of my role at Shell I now act as the company’s ambassador with the University of Aberdeen campus. I also can’t speak highly enough about the support I received from my two academic supervisors during my PhD.

Emmanuelle Ehrner

Where are you from and why did you choose to study an MSc at the University of Aberdeen?

I am from Sweden originally.  I chose to do my MSc degree at the University of Aberdeen as I wanted to build on the knowledge and experience I had gained from previous education and work experience with a view to helping me reach my career goals.

What degree/degrees did you study?

At the University of Aberdeen I completed my 1 year MSc degree in Environmental Analytical Chemistry.  Prior to this, I had completed a BSc Honours degree in Forensic and Analytical Science from Robert Gordon University.

What challenges did you encounter during your studies and how did the department assist?

I would be lying if I said that a master’s degree isn’t stressful at times but I was lucky enough to have great project supervisors that were very supportive and who taught me a lot.  In general I thought that the education plan was well thought out and relevant and it was flexible enough to allow the time to reflect on the lectures and study for exams, assignments etc.

What are you doing now?

After my MSc I got into the pharmaceutical industry. I initially got a job at GlaxoSmithKline as a Technical Analytical Chemist, performing non-routine analysis and activities in order to support API (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient) manufacture. After a few years I moved back to Sweden and I now work at AstraZeneca as an analyst within product development, performing routine analysis and development work in order to support late phase drug development.  

How do you feel your degree benefited you?

My degree at the University of Aberdeen was very hands-on with regards to using analytical instruments such as high pressure liquid chromatography, gas chromatography and ion chromatography.  Whilst, I had previously gained experience in these techniques, I learnt a great deal about problem solving with these methods which has been very beneficial in my career. 

What was your favourite thing about studying at the University of Aberdeen?

As a person who loves problem solving I must say that my favourite thing about my year at the University of Aberdeen was my MSc project.  My task was to interpret detailed Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) data in order to confirm the structure of a peptide that could have medicinal uses. Whilst this was a very challenging task, I felt that I had great supervisory support and guidance.  In fact I found the work so enthralling, the greatest challenge was almost to bring myself to put the data away each evening.  This work opened up my eyes to working with pharmaceutical-related topics.

Jireh Hinds

Where are you from and why did you choose to study chemistry at the University of Aberdeen?

I am from Westhill, just outside of Aberdeen. I initially looked at several Scottish universities but decided that the University of Aberdeen had one of the best chemistry departments, whilst also offering a great social life. 

What degree/degrees did you study?

I studied the 5 year Masters of Chemistry (MChem) degree and graduated in 2014.
What challenges did you encounter during your studies and how did the department assist?
Luckily I didn’t encounter any really big challenges during my studies. However, a couple of my friends did and I think they would agree that the Department of Chemistry staff and support staff were very helpful and understanding. 

What are you doing now?

I am now an analytical chemist and quality manager in a lab that specializes in whisky and other spirits. I check the alcoholic strength of samples using a density meter and sometimes distillation.  I also analyse the acidity by titration, and higher alcohols by gas chromatography.  As quality manager I also have the responsibility of checking results before they are sent out to customers and maintaining our methods to keep our United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) accreditation.

How do you feel your degree benefited you?

The analytical chemistry lecture courses on instrumentation have given me a thorough understanding of the principles and mechanics of the instruments I am using on a daily basis.  This was backed up laboratory practical’s which provided hands on experience with most instruments (i.e., gas chromatography, high performance liquid chromatography, Ultraviolet-Visible and Infrared Spectroscopies).  This in turn makes it easier to use and troubleshoot when needed as well as learn new methods.

What was your favourite thing about studying chemistry at the University of Aberdeen?

I can’t choose just one favourite thing about studying chemistry at Aberdeen!  I really enjoyed the social life, both the societies on offer and the friends I made in class.  I also really enjoyed my time abroad.  My Masters project was carried out at the CRPP in Bordeaux.  I would highly recommend making the most of the opportunity of studying abroad, it is an experience not to be missed.

Any other relevant information you wish to share?

The chemistry degree at the University of Aberdeen, covers a broad range of subjects in quite a lot of detail, providing you with a great basis for a number of potential career paths. 

Einar Karu

Where are you from and why did you choose to study chemistry at the University of Aberdeen?

I come from Estonia originally. After finishing secondary school, I decided to continue my education abroad so I could have new adventures, experiences and challenges. I was selecting between Universities in England and Scotland but was especially attracted to the University of Aberdeen due to the beautiful surroundings nearby. 

What degree/degrees did you study?

I graduated with a Masters of Chemistry degree (MChem) in Environmental Chemistry.  However, during my degree I made use of the University of Aberdeen’s flexible course structure and changed degree programmes twice.  I started off as an Environmental Science student but took courses which allowed me to change to BSc Environmental Chemistry at the end of 2nd year.  Then between 3rd and 4th years I changed from a BSc to the MChem programme.  Throughout the process, I found that my personal advisors were open, guiding and supportive of the decisions I made.

What challenges did you encounter during your studies and how did the department assist?

In 2010, during an Easter holiday when I was back home, most European flights (including my return flight) were cancelled due to the Icelandic volcano eruption. This was at a time when the exams were coming up. I contacted my advisor and course coordinator and they were very understanding. Due to many international students having delays, the exams were re-scheduled. 

What are you doing now?

I became a PhD candidate in November 2014 at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, a research institute in Mainz, Germany. I am working at the Atmospheric Chemistry department and focussing on studying volatile organosulphur compounds in the upper troposphere / lower stratosphere.

How do you feel your degree benefited you?

Living and studying abroad not only give me the theoretical knowledge and practical experience I wanted but also helped me advance and excel many other personal and transferrable skills. These additional skills are especially valuable with regards to employment!

What was your favourite thing about studying chemistry at the University of Aberdeen?

I can’t pick only one! I really enjoyed the practical chemistry courses as you often learn better by getting hands on. I also spent an Erasmus semester in Copenhagen, Denmark – which I recommend to everyone! Last but not least, the opportunity to conduct my MChem project abroad at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz was a great experience.

Any other relevant information you wish to share?

University of Aberdeen do not only provide top level degree programmes and courses, but also has numerous Societies and Sports Clubs, which definitely adds an extra note to your student life. Be very curious and ask for opportunities if you would like to become involved with any project.

Joseph Mintah Laryea

Where are you from and why did you choose to study an MSc at the University of Aberdeen?

I am from Ghana, West Africa.  I choose to study an MSc at the University of Aberdeen because I wanted to study a master’s degree program which was going to build upon my BSc degree in chemistry obtained from the University of Ghana.

What degree/degrees did you study?

I studied the one year Master’s of Science in Oil and Gas Chemistry.  I also had a brief experience at the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation and so the Oil and Gas Masters programme seemed to a good choice to expand my knowledge in this area.

What challenges did you encounter during your studies and how did the department assist?

It can be very challenging when you move to a new environment specifically for education.  This is not the case at the University of Aberdeen as the degree programme is well tailored in a manner that ensures that you are conformable from day one.  The chemistry lecturers are extremely nice and always willing to assist. 

What are you doing now?

I am currently the West Africa Quality Systems Controller at Q & Q Control Services UK Ltd, based in Lome, Togo.  My role is to directly oversee the operations of all Q & Q laboratories in West Africa (Lome, Lagos & Port Harcourt) and to move the labs towards achieving ISO 17025 accreditation (ISO are the international Organisation for Standardization).

How do you feel your degree benefited you?

The Royal Society of Chemistry accredited degree programme covers all aspects of the three main sectors of the oil and gas industry (upstream, midstream and downstream).  The course modules have therefore adequately equipped me with specialist skills that are relevant to any of these sectors.

What was your favourite thing about studying at the University of Aberdeen?

The University of Aberdeen is well known in the energy industry and has strong connections with most top energy companies.  Hence, the opportunity to carry out an industrial placement during my dissertation was especially pleasing.  I also enjoyed that the lecturers are constantly involved in research at the highest level.

Any other relevant information you wish to share?

It is important to know that it is not just dreams that have gotten me to where I am today but also passion, persistence and hard work.
 

Dr Barry Mant

Where are you from and why did you choose to study chemistry at the University of Aberdeen?

I am from Aberdeen originally.  When I decided I wanted to study chemistry I realised there was a good university on my doorstep.  It therefore didn't make much sense to go anywhere else!  I also visited the department before I started, where I met the departmental staff who were very friendly and encouraging.  This certainly helped confirm my decision.  

What degree/degrees did you study?

I studied for a MChem, Masters of Chemistry degree.  After I completed by undergraduate degree an opportunity arose in a very exciting area of research, so I decided to stay for my PhD study.  My research topic for my PhD was antimatter chemistry and this was approached from a theoretical point of view by performing in depth computational calculations.

What challenges did you encounter during your studies and how did the department assist?

Probably the largest challenge I faced was going abroad to Barcelona for my research project as part of the Mchem Erasmus programme. There was a lot to organise but the department made the process quite streamlined. It was also helpful and reassuring to have a member of academic staff to come and visit in person to check on my progress.

What are you doing now?

I am now a postdoctoral research associate in the Physics and Astronomy department at University College London (UCL).  I am attempting to calculate spectral properties of molecules which will allow astronomers to determine which types of molecules exist within the atmosphere of exoplanets.  In order to do this I perform very detailed theoretical calculations.

How do you feel your degree benefited you?

My degree is directly responsible for me being where I am today.  The skills and knowledge I learned during my Mchem meant I was able to pursue my ambition of completing a PhD.  In this regard, my Mchem research project was especially helpful since it gave me first taste of theoretical calculations.  It would also be fair to say that my postgraduate degree was critical for getting me the job I am in today.

What was your favourite thing about study chemistry at the University of Aberdeen?

The department is relatively small but this means the staff get to know you as an individual. This makes for a great learning environment as asking for help or discussing the subject in tutorials or labs is not intimidating.
 

Dr Greg Mutch

Where are you from and why did you choose to study chemistry at the University of Aberdeen?

I’m from Dyce in Aberdeen.  I applied to study Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the University of Aberdeen, Robert Gordons and Edinburgh originally.  In the end, I chose to stay in Aberdeen and focus on Chemistry and this was helped by getting to experience the University of Aberdeen during S6 laboratory practical days.

What degree/degrees did you study?

I studied the MChem, Masters of Chemistry degree.  Following on from this, I decided to continue my studies and recently finished a PhD in Chemical Engineering.  My research topic focused on carbon dioxide capture and storage methodologies.

What challenges did you encounter during your studies and how did the department assist?

I had a range of challenges, both personal and professional. During my final year of MChem I had a short illness that affected my studies and I found the department was both supportive and very accommodating.  During the same year I had my MChem placement abroad (Turin, Italy) and I received lot of help from the department to organise my stay.  I knew throughout my degree and PhD that I wanted to push myself, and I always found lecturers to be very helpful when I showed an interest in reading beyond the course material. 

What are you doing now?

I am now an EPSRC Post-Doctoral Prize Fellow at Newcastle University, with Professor Ian Metcalfe. I do a combination of laboratory and administrative duties, as well as supervise masters and PhD students. My main areas of interest are carbon dioxide capture and vibrational spectroscopy, so therefore builds upon my PhD.

How do you feel your degree benefited you?

My degrees have benefitted me in a variety of ways. I am definitely a more confident individual; both in terms of speaking publically and defending my ideas, as well as believing in my ability to learn and succeed.  My research project sparked an interest in asking questions, which led me directly to a research career - I can’t imagine doing anything else now!  Finally, prizes I received during my degree has set me apart from other people in terms of recruitment, which goes to show that hard work and achievement is recognised in Aberdeen.

What was your favourite thing about studying chemistry at the University of Aberdeen?

The campus. I loved being surrounded by beautiful buildings. The size of the university is also good, not too big, as it meant you were always bumping into people you knew. 

Any other relevant information you wish to share?

I am grateful for the support and education I received in Aberdeen. It has clearly changed my life and has put me on a path to success; I have moved from the city I grew up in and secured a prestigious fellowship to start my career and this reflects my experience at the University of Aberdeen.
 

Karolina Nekrosiute

Where are you from and why did you choose to study chemistry at the University of Aberdeen?

I was born and raised in Lithuania. I always knew that I wanted to be involved in science but after school I had to decide what degree to study and where. The University of Aberdeen was my preference because of its history, location, educational excellence and diversity. I was also enthused by the opportunity to study chemistry alongside other subjects that interested me like biology and languages. I am happy to say that the course met my expectations from the very beginning!

What degree/degrees did you study?

I studied the BSc in chemistry between 2012 and 2016 and graduated with 1st class honours.  I was also awarded the Chalmers prize for excellence in analytical chemistry during my degree!  Afterwards moved to London to study for an MSc in drug discovery and development at UCL.

What challenges did you encounter during your studies and how did the department assist?

I did not encounter any major challenges while at the University of Aberdeen. However, I would highlight that the department staff were always very helpful and supportive in case of any issues. Lecturers were always ‘keen’ to help whether it was exam preparation or an informal chat about placements/further studies. I also found lecturers were happy to have you in their labs during the summer months where you could gain experience in a real scientific environment.

What are you doing now?

Currently I am pursuing my aspiration to work in clinical trials within the pharmaceutical industry where newly discovered medications are tested prior to entering the market. I am a project coordinator at the clinical research organization - Medpace.  There I support clinical trial managers with daily activities to ensure that trials are being conducted safely and effectively. 

How do you feel your degree benefited you?

During my chemistry degree I got the opportunity to do a drug discovery related summer internship at the Diamond Light Source near Oxford.  This made me realise that I wanted to use my skills and knowledge to pursue a career in the pharmaceutical industry.  My degree from the University of Aberdeen helped me gain entry into an MSc degree at UCL as well as helped me carry out a project at one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies – GSK.  I am happy that I chose to study chemistry as it gave me a strong foundation and helped me get to where I am today.

What was your favourite thing about studying chemistry at the University of Aberdeen?

Studying in an environment where lecturers are passionate about what they do and are keen to share their knowledge. 
 

Dr Tom Majchrowski

Where are you from and why did you choose to study chemistry at the University of Aberdeen?

I am originally from Poland, but grew up in East Midlands. I chose to study at the University of Aberdeen because of its long-standing reputation in teaching chemistry and the flexible range of courses available. A visit during an open day filled me with reassurance that the knowledgeable staff offered a very warm, friendly and helpful environment for learning.

What degree/degrees did you study?

I originally enrolled on MChem course, however I decided to complete BSc with Honours in Chemistry.  I followed this up with a PhD in Physical Chemistry.

What challenges did you encounter during your studies and how did the department assist?

I found one or two modules particularly difficult to study. I sought support from lecturers who were more than happy to provide advice and guidance, taking their time to work through topics I found difficult on a one-to-one basis. During my undergraduate studies I developed an interest in research and I found that staff were very accommodating.  This meant I had the opportunity to work on two different research projects in addition to the standard curriculum.  These were helpful for improving both my knowledge base and laboratory skills as well as reinforce my desire to undertake a PhD.

What are you doing now?

Since graduating with a doctorate I have been working in the nuclear industry within the UK. Initially, I worked at the National Nuclear Laboratory where I delivered desk based and practical projects to underpin safe packaging of radioactive waste. I now work at Radioactive Waste Management, the government organisation tasked with delivering practical solutions for radioactive waste in the UK, including geological disposal. In my role, I work with stakeholders (i.e., regulators and national agencies) to build and support a case for disposal of radioactive waste. I also provide advice on packaging and storage of some interesting legacy nuclear materials.

How do you feel your degree benefited you?

My degree from the University of Aberdeen has provided me a great breadth and depth of chemical knowledge and practical skills.  As well as this I feel it taught me to be solution focussed, resilient and pragmatic. The opportunities to be challenged meant I learnt effectively and this has helped shape me into being a well-rounded, a professional chemist.

What was your favourite thing about studying chemistry at the University of Aberdeen?

The friendly, welcoming and inclusive atmosphere within the department. It was easy to establish social groups and to feel part of a community. I also found it easy to speak with lecturers and have discussions about course material or their research.

Any other relevant information you wish to share?

While studying toward my PhD I became an active STEM ambassador, delivering a chemistry show – Flashes and Bangs - to schools and the general public. The department was very helpful in making this happen. I have enjoyed educating and inspiring others about the wonders of chemistry.
 

Danny Molyneux

Where are you from and why did you choose to study chemistry at the University of Aberdeen?

I’m from Westhill in Aberdeenshire and to be honest was slightly nervous about the prospect of moving go to University so it was great to have the University of Aberdeen so nearby.  At school I excelled in STEM subjects and appreciated that at Aberdeen I did not need to specialise until 3rd year. So I studied Maths, Physics and Chemistry in 1st and 2nd year before specialising in Chemistry.

What degree/degrees did you study?

I studied the 5 year MChem degree.  This meant that in my master’s year I was able to travel to Europe on an Erasmus placement.  I spent the time at the Universitat de Barcelona which I loved!  My Masters dissertation involved the Partial Oxidation of Methane using TiO2 and ZrO2 supported Ru Catalysts.

What challenges did you encounter during your studies and how did the department assist?

I was fortunate to not encounter any serious challenges during my studies.  However, any time I needed help there was always someone to turn to – not just the lecturers but I also found the postgraduate students to be extremely helpful and welcoming.  

What are you doing now?

I joined Aubin, who are an oilfield chemicals provider, 9 years ago after graduating.  I worked in the laboratory for 3.5 years before managing the R&D team for 3 years.  More recently, I spent 2.5 years on business development and I am currently the Business Development Manager.  The highlight so far has undoubtedly been a 2-year assignment as Vice President of Technology in Sugar Land, Texas within the USA.  I have also represented the company on business trips to Rio de Janeiro, Algiers and Dubai which means my work with Aubin will have taken me to 5 continents!

How do you feel your degree benefited you?

Of course I feel the knowledge I have gained and the skills I have developed have made me well-suited to working in the oilfield chemistry industry.  However, there are other aspects which can be helpful such as building up a contact network in industry.  In my current role we still benefit from support from the University of Aberdeen for things like specialized lab analysis and a source of CVs when we are recruiting.

What was your favourite thing about studying chemistry at the University of Aberdeen?

Some of the extra-curriculars events – ChemSoc, Torcher Parade, SuperTeams, Student Show were fantastic fun.  I also met my wife Michelle in an undergraduate chemistry lab – our surnames were next to each other on the class register so we were positioned together as lab partners.  

Any other relevant information you wish to share?

I thought the standard of teaching was excellent – I achieved a First Class degree merely by doing what was asked of me rather than going out of my way to excel.  I look back on my time at fondly and it is great to see the numerous improvements that have been made to the campus in recent years.  I would feel very comfortable hiring UoA graduates – in fact, we hired 2 Chemists into our Product Development Team in the past 2 years.
 

Dr Susanne Poth

Where are you from and why did you choose to study chemistry at the University of Aberdeen?

I am from Stadtkyll, Germany, a small town 90 km (about 55 miles) south of Cologne.  I chose the University of Aberdeen based on the staff research expertise which really appealed to me. 

What degree/degrees did you study?

Initially I studied the MChem, Masters of Chemistry degree, graduating in 2008.  After this, I stayed in Aberdeen and completed a PhD in the department of Chemistry in the area of heterogeneous catalysis, graduating with my doctorate in 2012.  My PhD was focused on designing new synthetic methods for creating a biodegradable chelating agent (i.e., the sort of thing you may see in a detergent).

What challenges did you encounter during your studies and how did the department assist?

I actually transferred to the University at the start of the third year.  This was a somewhat daunting prospect since I was not only new, but a foreign student as well.  However, from day 1 onwards, I was made to feel very welcome by both my class mates and the lecturers.  This meant I felt ‘one of them’ very quickly.  I would particularly like to highlight the staffs ‘open-door policy’ which allowed me to ask for guidance easily and so I never really saw this as a challenge!

What are you doing now?

I now work in the exciting area of scientific publishing for Wiley-VCH journals.  I have worked on a number of Wiley-VCH journals including Chemistry – A European Journal and am currently an associate editor for the ChemCatChem journal. This is especially nice because the journal focuses on publishing results in the area of catalysis, which links back to my PhD.

How do you feel your degree benefited you?

There are two ways I benefit from my degrees in everyday work life. Firstly, I possess the scientific knowledge required to understand, assess and edit scientific papers/manuscripts as well as to engage with the research community – this really is the basis of my work.  Without my time at the University of Aberdeen that would not have been possible.  Secondly, I acquired a lot of transferrable skills that are key to managing and organising publications.  This is an aspect of a university degree which is not often highlighted but is important in life beyond uni.

What was your favourite thing about studying chemistry at the University of Aberdeen?

That’s a tough question because I genuinely enjoyed the whole experience.  However, if I had to pick, then I’d say my Erasmus exchange placement as part of the MChem programme.  This meant I got to spent 5 months in the beautiful country of Sweden.

Adele Sutherland

Where are you from and why did you choose to study chemistry at the University of Aberdeen?

I am from Wick in the North of Scotland and originally chose to study Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh as it had a good reputation.  However, when I began my studies I didn’t like the city or the structure of the course and so left to return home.  After a year I decided I wanted to try University again and selected the University of Aberdeen as I had several friends studying there. 

What degree/degrees did you study?

I chose to study Psychology as my undergraduate with Chemistry and Biology for my extra credits.  After two years I decided that I loved the Chemistry programme and department so much that I switched to Chemistry.  The staff within the Chemistry department were very encouraging and supportive of this decision.

What challenges did you encounter during your studies and how did the department assist?

During my third year I suffered from a bad case of pneumonia and was unable to attend classes for several weeks.  During this time I had several assignments due.  My lecturers were very understanding and gave me the extra time I needed to complete them.

What are you doing now?

After my undergraduate degree I went to the University of Strathclyde and completed a Masters in Forensic Science and Technology.  Since then I was employed by the Scottish Police Authority as a Mark Enhancement Recovery Officer within Forensic Services.  In my role, I carried out examinations and tests to preserve, recover, and record forensic trace evidence.  This included examining fingerprints, controlled substances and DNA from items submitted to the laboratory using specialist chemical and lighting techniques.  I have just recently moved to Dounreay as an Environmental Lab Analyst.

How do you feel your degree benefited you?

Hugely – without my undergraduate degree I would not have been accepted into the MSc programme at Strathclyde which has helped me get to where I am today.  I would also highlight that the staff at the University of Aberdeen were very supportive and wrote excellent references to aid my application to Strathclyde.  I would also highlight that the excellent breadth of knowledge gained from my undergraduate studies will serve me well in the future both within the forensic and general chemistry fields.

What was your favourite thing about studying chemistry at the University of Aberdeen?

The staff within the Department of Chemistry were very approachable and that made the experience enjoyable and relaxed.