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Introducing SCI Scholar, Thomas Britten

Tom Britten

10 Oct 2017

For over thirty years, SCI has supported and recognised the excellence of early career people, by aiding their studies in the form of an SCI Scholarship.

Since 1985 around 71 scholarships have been awarded which have not only given the recipients financial assistance, but have enabled them to broaden their network, and strengthen their skills and knowledge. SCI Scholars receive access to publishing and mentoring opportunities and are given a platform to present their work amongst esteemed scientists and industrialists, thus raising their profile within the scientific community. In the past nine years alone, SCI has generously bequeathed over £115,000 of its charitable funds to SCI Scholars and the scientists of the future.

Thomas Britten was awarded an SCI Scholarship in 2016. Here, he tells us about himself and his research project.

‘The last 12 months have been very successful. I have completed my 1st year PhD review and received some good feedback for my work. Since then, I have developed a novel route to access a key substrate related to my PhD project. We are currently finalising this work and expect to publish this in the next three months. I spent January and February at AstraZeneca on a CASE placement, where I carried out my PhD project at the laboratories in Cambridge. It was a fantastic experience in a new environment and I was given the opportunity to give a short presentation on my work. I was awarded a bursary from Santander to go towards my time on placement. Outside of research, I helped to organise our departmental conference (and was awarded the prize for the best 2nd year talk), completed a teaching qualification (I am now an Associate Fellow of The Higher Education Academy), and worked as a demonstrator in the undergraduate laboratory classes. I was also elected as the PhD representative on the Chemistry Operational SHaW (Safety, Health and Wellbeing) committee and became a postgraduate mentor for new starters within the department. On a personal level, I have been asked to be a groomsman for one of my best friends and I have become a proud uncle twice in the last year.

'In terms of what the scholarship has allowed me to do, I attended the 23rd Lakeland Symposium on Heterocyclic Chemistry in Grasmere earlier this year, where some fantastic chemistry was on show. I presented a poster on my work and networked with other PhD students, academics and people from industry. In addition, I attended and presented a poster at the North-West RSC Organic Division meeting in May. Here I saw some more great talks and met with colleagues from the local area. Both the scholarship and the Santander bursary ensured my placement in Cambridge went smoothly and enabled me to get the most out of my time there. Finally, I have been able to buy some specific literature related to my PhD project, which I have found extremely beneficial.

'Where possible I have been involved in some SCI activities. In November last year I attended the SCI Scholar’s day, which was a valuable day of networking, career talks and workshops that gave me a lot of information to consider. I have recently become an SCI ambassador for my department here in Lancaster and this has allowed me to give back to the SCI. In the future, I hope to get more involved with SCI activities.

'In the coming year, I am looking forward to making some significant progress with regards to my PhD project. I also plan to attend more conferences both nationally and internationally to present and promote my work.'

Thomas Britten
PhD Student
Lancaster University

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