24 April 2018
The seventh annual Day of Science & Careers, organised by SCI’s Early Careers Committee (ECC), was held at the Department of Chemistry at UCL on 27 March 2018 – the first time away from SCI Headquarters at Belgrave Square.
Delegates were a mixture of undergraduate, Masters and PhD students from far and wide, with some students travelling from the universities of Aberdeen, St Andrews, Liverpool, and Bristol.
Andy Merritt, a patron of SCI's College of Scholars, began the first series of talks by introducing Kevin Back, from one of our sponsors Pfizer, to talk about starting out as a scientist in industry.
He explained his unique insight having worked in industry after gaining his MChem from the University of Oxford, then transitioning back to academia to gain a PhD before joining Pfizer. Photos of his contrasting hairstyles in academia and industry caused considerable amusement!
Joe Sweeney then spoke about his experience in academia. In this current climate, he spoke frankly on how much careers within universities have changed in the last five years. SCI’s Chair of the Board of Trustees, Alan Baylis, then gave advice on networking and how it had helped his career in business.
The morning session concluded with an interactive activity run by Tim Reynolds, who is a member of ECC. Participants split into groups and were tasked with producing a 30 second pitch on a topic of their choice.
Tim used one of the Bright SCIdea Challenge training videos featuring entrepreneur Victor Christou to help. There were some excellent pitches, with three students from Queen Mary College, London, winning for their presentation on equality in science.
Lunch followed, offering a chance to practice the networking advice given in Alan's earlier talk.
Matt Hudson, Terminal Manager for Shell Haven and responsible for the import of aviation fuel, described his varied career. We were intrigued to learn that Shell is responsible for 30% of the UK's jet fuel and that there are underground pipelines linking the depot at Shell Haven to all the major airports in the South and East of England.
James Douglas, like Kevin a former SCI Scholar, then described his career at AstraZeneca where he is part of a team tasked with the synthesis of challenging molecules.
Ijeoma Uchegbu of UCL held the audience spellbound with an account of her life raising a family in Nigeria and East London, and her unusual route into academia. She did not even inform her PhD supervisor that she was bringing up her 3 young girls on her own at that time!
She has received many awards, including the UK Department for Business, Innovation & Skills Women of Outstanding Achievement in SET award in 2007, and the Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences Innovative Science Award in 2016.
The science which followed described the use of nanomoleules to improve drug delivery and efficacy thathas led to the spin-out Nanomerics – a company focused on overcoming the limits of existing drugs in areas of unmet need.
Siân Moorhouse described her role as a Formulation Technical Specialist at Syngenta in the efficient delivery of herbicides to maximise their effects, followed by Darren Smyth's advice on how to become a Patent Attorney and the complex and challenging road involved to qualify.
For those not wanting to follow a career in traditional science, Sam Foskett and Nathalie Huther were on hand to present publishing, and marketing and sales as prospective careers respectively. Rich Carruthers from Imperial College London rounded off the session with valuable advice and tips on CVs and job applications.
We are grateful to Ester Montfort, the SCI Membership team, and Caroline Knapp from UCL, for all their help and support; also to our sponsors Pfizer and Croda.
Professor Alan Heaton
Chair, SCI Early Careers Committee