Scholars and Early Career Newsletter Issue Two

17 February 2014

For more up to date information, please see our Early Career news and events page.

College of Scholars Principal's Column

This is the second issue of this newsletter for SCI Scholars and Early Career People (ECP). If you missed No.1 it is available on the College of Scholars (CoS) web page.

A lot has been going on over the last year; e-membership has been introduced and a working party on 'Communications' is covering the use of social networks. I am leading a similar group covering 'Recruitment and Retention' with an initial focus on ECP. It will develop strategies to recruit, and equally importantly retain, new members. We hope that they will then become 'active' members, serving on group and even governance committees; these are great ways to extend your skills and boost your CV! The first step is to set up an SCI Honorary Representative system, initially in every relevant university department and later in industry. If you would like to volunteer, or require further details, please contact Karen Hobbs E: or myself on E:

Incidentally former Scholars are currently serving on ECSSC (Kevin Back), the Publications Advisory Committee (Natalie Fey) and on the Editorial Board of Chemistry & Industry (James Womack).

Equally importantly we hope that we can persuade you to give us your views which will be extremely valuable in developing our plans for the society. We want you to help shape the society for the 21st century.

Remember to regularly visit the Awards part of the website and within it the CoS section. There is also an Early Career section, linked from the news pages. It also contains details of Travel Bursaries, Study Visit and Scholarship funding which we have available and any new funding will be posted there also. Remember that we also have a CoS Group on Linked In.

I am pleased to report that Prof Jenny Mordue Luntz and I were elected/re-elected to the Board of Trustees at SCI's AGM in July. We were joined by Dr Inna Baigozina-Goreli who, as a consultant at A T Kearney, brings some new experience and skills to the Board. Three senior industrialists - Dr Mark Harrison (SABIC), Dr Mike Bushell (Syngenta) and Harry Swan (Thomas Swan) - were co-opted and their business acumen has already proved very useful. We were delighted that they all accepted invitations to the Scholars' Lunch (see CoS events below).

The Board also approved our request for funding for three one-year Scholarships in addition to the usual three two-year ones in 2013 plus increased funding for Travel Bursaries; see News of Scholars section below for details.

Do send in your comments (feel free to be frank!) and offers of articles for future issues. Send them to and copy to me, Alan Heaton at Finally it is a pleasure to record my thanks to my ECSSC colleagues (Kevin Back, Jenny Mordue Luntz, Tim Reynolds and Ben Wahab) for all their hard work and to Karen Hobbs for her terrific and very efficient support to us even though she has been one member of her team short for most of the last year.

Prof Alan Heaton
Principal, College of Scholars

How an SCI Scholarship Helped My Career

Dr Kevin Back, ECSSC and Pfizer

I'm an early career member, now employed at Pfizer in Sandwich as a materials scientist, helping develop drugs into products. I studied for my PhD at Manchester, having previously worked for AstraZeneca for five years. I was awarded an SCI Scholarship in 2009, which has helped me in my career in a number of ways.

During my PhD, I used it in my application to attend a Gordon Conference on Crystal Engineering, which is a selective conference series, and was given a place - it was easily one of the most scientifically interesting and challenging conferences I have been to. It was an excellent place to build relationships with both academic and industrial communities - particularly as when the talks ended at 9pm, there was free beer in the bar till 11pm! As part of the College of Scholars, I got to know both my peers and senior members of the SCI, which has always been helpful for career advice. I was also asked to assist in organising a Regional Presentation for the Scholars in Manchester , which was excellent experience in coordinating and organising the various aspects of a small meeting, and which made a good case study for behaviour based interviews. I presented at this and various other regional presentations during my Scholarship. Presenting to scientists who are not familiar with your area is an excellent skill to build for your career, and these presentations allowed me to develop my style. The SCI Scholarship is a prize which provides a measurable achievement on a CV, which is a big help in getting to the crucial interview stage for jobs (as Dr Caroline Cordery of the Liverpool and North West Regional Interest Group has taught me at KickStart, that's what the CV's for!). I have applied for three jobs since being awarded the Scholarship, and was given an interview for each of them. It is useful in different ways for both academic and industrial career paths.

The first 'job' I applied for was an EPSRC Doctoral Prize in Manchester. This was a year's funding to pursue research related to my PhD, but much more self-led, with training in academic skills such as writing research grant applications. Having both the Scholarship and various travel bursaries on my CV gave me a proven track record in successfully applying for funding - this is a key factor in academic jobs, and having built some of this experience already during your PhD helps you to stand out. It also helped me to get this fellowship! However, I found myself wanting a job back in industry, and so applied to Pfizer and an agrochemical firm. Here, my Scholarship helped my CV to stand out, together with the experience I had gained through becoming involved with SCI.

My Scholarship was a direct catalyst for my becoming more involved with SCI (I'm a member of the ECSSC), and that is still helping me today in my career. My company values my external interactions such as presenting at careers events, and they are captured in my annual review. The Scholarship helped me in my successful application for the British Association for Crystal Growth's Young Scientist Award - having prizes helps with getting prizes, and this was something my company valued too. Through SCI I meet scientists in a huge array of different disciplines, and can chat with them about their experiences, giving me a wide angle view of industrial chemistry. I'm very grateful to SCI for the Scholarship - it has been a huge boost to my career, and I hope I've persuaded you it's not just about the money!

What Do Pharma Multinationals Look for When Recruiting Graduates?

Louise Burdett and Jayshree Mistry, GSK

GSK is one of the world's leading pharmaceutical and consumer healthcare companies. We have a challenging and inspiring mission: to improve the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer. As a company, we believe in developing talented people. Every year we hire hundreds of graduates and interns into a hugely diverse range of business and engineering areas onto our Future Leaders, Industrial Placement and Summer Internship programmes. When recruiting graduates we want to make sure that we are developing a strong pipeline of talent which will take GSK into the future. For that reason, it doesn't matter what degree discipline the graduate comes from, what is more important is that they have the right mix of skills.

GSK is looking for graduates who have the ability to think flexibly, build relationships and have the ambition to work in a multidisciplinary environment. A graduate who has a very specific area of expertise will do well in certain roles; however what works best for GSK are graduates who are broadminded, adaptable and quick learners. To find this, we look for graduates to show evidence of leadership skills acquired through extracurricular activities and work experience. It doesn't necessarily matter what experience you have, it's what you have learnt from it that's important to us. We want to see that you have taken responsibility and have succeeded in leading and inspiring others. As a multinational organisation that operates in over 100 countries across the world, it is also important that graduates can show international experience and ambition. A great way to demonstrate this to us is by taking an Erasmus or gap year, learning a language or perhaps even more fun...taking some time out to travel the world!

Similarly, although GSK is a science-led organisation, it also needs graduates in non-science roles. Many graduates that join GSK will come from a science degree but may end up working in functions such as sales and marketing, finance and IT. Other graduates who join us will never have set foot in a lab before; they may be an engineer or a business graduate. To us these graduates are just as valuable to our business as they bring a very different type of knowledge and way of working.

GSK is sure that most pharmaceutical companies will agree that when recruiting graduates the most important thing is that they have ambition and are open to learn. Saying yes to as many opportunities as possible in the early stages of your career will help you to go far in our organisation!


Sadly we have lost Dr Sharon Williams and Prof Peter Griffiths, due to the pressure of their full time jobs and we will be looking for replacements in the coming months, including at least one Early Career Person - interested? We also lost Charne Green at the end of 2012. She has moved to the University of Greenwich and has recently been promoted to Partnership Division Office Manager. We thank her for all her past support and wish her well in her new career. The committee has decided to end Regional Presentations. Instead Scholars will be invited to give a presentation at a relevant Technical Interest Group meeting and also at the Society's AGM.

The BoT has expressed its congratulations to, and support for, the CoS and its activities and wishes to see them extended so that many other Early Career People can enjoy the benefits. Already the 2013 Day of Science and Careers and Scholars' Lunch were opened up to other ECP. How to expand the College membership has been difficult, with views ranging from 'keep it as it is' to 'open it up to all SCI student members'. We will be submitting a proposal to the April BoT meeting.

Jenny Mordue Luntz presented a major report on ECSSC, concerning what it has already achieved and its future plans, at the January BoT meeting and this was very well received.

News Update from Belgrave Square

The two most important news items concern the HQ building and our new Executive Director (ED). The trustees have allocated over £1 million for building works, particularly repairs to the roof, and refurbishments. When complete in July 2014 we should have a 'state of the art' lecture theatre. On the down side we have been unable to hold any meetings there since July 2013, so we have had a tour of other societies' HQs for our meetings!

Dr Juliet Corbett started work on 2 Jan 2014 as our new ED, replacing Joanne Lyall who has returned to New Zealand. Juliet is a physicist who has done a lot of work at the Institute of Physics and has particular interests in the Early Career area and outreach activities. We look forward to working closely with her and were delighted that she joined us at the Scholars' Lunch.

The Members' Forum was held on 19 Nov 2013 and three of our new Scholars entered the poster competition for ECPs to report on their research.

CoS Events

The College held its second 'Day of Science and Careers' on 22 Apr 2013. It was open to all ECP, both members and non-members, and attracted 59 participants. Five subsequently became SCI members. It was immensely successful, with the final, informal session providing a great chance for networking. See Day of Science and Careers 2013 for a report.

At the 2013 Scholars' Lunch (held on 21 Jan 2014!) our six new Scholars received their certificates from Dr Andy Merritt (MRC and CoS Patron) and a copy of Usborne's Illustrated Dictionary of Science, courtesy of BASF. We also invited a number of other ECP who are active in SCI Groups plus several former Scholars. The latter had to earn their lunch by contributing to the presentations! Again see the CoS web site for a report.

A date for your diaries: Monday, 28 April, 2014 - 3rd Annual Day of Science and Careers. We have a small group planning the meeting at present and have already earmarked some new speakers covering new industry sectors, but would welcome your suggestions - see CoS Group pages on Linkedin. The students attending last year were quite surprised at the wide range of careers in the chemical and chemistry-using industries. There will also be tips on applying for jobs, plus lunch. The concluding informal part over wine and nibbles is again included specifically as an opportunity for informal discussion and networking.

This free event is likely to be very popular, so early application at is recommended.

ECSSC are also considering putting on a third event - a soft skills workshop covering topics such as writing scientific CVs. Let us know which other topics you would like us to include.

News of Scholars

As indicated earlier we appointed six new Scholars in 2013 and welcomed them at the Scholars' Lunch. Two have already taken up our offer of providing mentors. Details are given below.

Two have already taken up our offer of providing mentors. Details are given below:

Name University Project title/overview Duration
Moni Gupta University of Cambridge Development of synthetic methodologies for hydrosilylation as a novel bioorthogonal reaction. 2 years
Ekaterina Melikhova University of Oxford Synthesis of biologically active compounds 2 years
James Murray Imperial College London Development of synthetic tools for phosphoproteome analysis as chemical alternatives to phosphospecific antibodies. 2 years
Alistair Farley University of Oxford Organocatalysts 1 year
Michael Limb University of Bristol Computational Enzymology 1 year
Nicholas Race University of Bristol The metal-catalysed cyclisation of activated oxime esters onto alkenes to deliver chiral nitrogen heterocycles. 1 year

SCI has awarded a Daphne Jackson Fellowship to Ruramayi Nzuma-Mswaka and she is based at Queens University Belfast. We met her at the 2013 SCI AGM.

Following a generous bequest from the late Dr Sydney Andrew, SCI has combined with the Royal Society to fully fund a PhD studentship. Dr Stuart Reid (West of Scotland University) has recently been appointed as a Royal Society Industrial Fellow and as a result he is currently recruiting for the studentship.

Both the person appointed and Ruramayi became members of CoS.

Liam Ball has gained his PhD at Bristol University and has moved to a Post-Doctoral position at Edinburgh University.

Dr Fionn O'Hara has returned to the UK after her Fulbright Scholarship at the Scripps Research Institute in California. She is working as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate at the John Innes Research Centre in Norwich.

Many congratulations to all of them on their achievements.

SCI Awards

In 2013 as well as the six Scholarships we awarded sixteen Travel Bursaries, ranging from £250 to £1500. For the latter this represents around one third of the applications received and more were worthy of being funded. We were therefore very pleased that BoT awarded us a 33% increase in funding for Travel Bursaries for 2014.

Note that these can be awarded for Study Visits as well as Conference Presentations. An important change is that you must now be an SCI member to apply for Scholarships and Travel Bursaries.

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