Kilsyth Academy (secondary school 1999-2005) and University of Glasgow (degree and doctorate 2005 – now)
Highers in Art, Biology, Chemistry, Economics, English, Maths and Physics. Degree in Chemistry and hopefully a Doctorate in Chemistry in the not too distant future.
I’m still a student.
Ph.D. student (working towards becoming a Doctor in Chemistry)
The University of Glasgow and BP Chemicals Ltd.
Favourite thing to do in my job: Discovering new things/problem solving.
I make minerals (rocks) useful – industrial chemistry.
I study materials called zeolites – very holey/porous solids that act as both sieves and sponges/adsorbents. They can be natural or man-made and can be used in cement, food, fossil fuel production, gas separation, nuclear clean-up, water detergents and water purifiers. Without them, the world would not be as it is today.
My own work is on the their use for making greener fossil fuels.
Picture of zeolites – faujasite and philipsite from www.zeolite-collection.eu.
The holey/porous structure of faujasite (if you zoomed in to the atomic level) from http://www.explainthatstuff.com/zeolites.html
My Typical Day
Most days are busy and rewarding.
I’ll usually do background reading, data analysis and additional experiments such as SEM (Scanning Electron Microscopy – same technique used to get the really zoomed in pictures of flies and pollen etc.) (This one is of a mineral called corundum which is about 20x harder than steel!) all between measurements until the main experiments are done. After that I would normally write presentations/reports for my industrial sponsors and ultimately put it all together into my thesis (that I’m writing at the moment).
What I'd do with the prize money
I’m open to suggestion – message me.
I currently run STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) ambassador activities (http://www.stemnet.org.uk/) and I could use the money to improve demonstration equipment. Having said that, I would actively encourage anyone and everyone to let me know what they think would be a wise use of the £500 prize money (bearing in mind it must be used for science communication!) because it is you that should ultimately benefit from the prize money.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
I think encouraging others to consider learning about the sciences and how everything works.
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
I’ve had interest in it ever since primary 3 when I heard they could make snake anti-venom from snake venom. However, I was more directly inspired by one of my chemistry teachers at high school.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Couple of misunderstandings but nothing too serious despite some of the company I kept.
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Footballer or musician.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
At the moment, a French band called Gojira.
What's your favourite food?
Caramel shortcake without a doubt.
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I’ve been lucky enough to work Teri in New Delhi (India) for a month and visit both Agra (Taj Mahal) and Jaipur (Jantar Mantar).
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
To play football internationally for Scotland, have virtuoso guitar ability and to have the powers of Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen.
Tell us a joke.
It’s proving very difficult to find a shop selling “Left Guard” for my other armpit… (by markysumm).