Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Ladies Who Lab #2 Alice

I did promise a monthly section about females who have a career or passion for science as a way of inspiring younger girls into the field. Being a busy scientist I missed last months but now I am on track. This month is Alice; a lady who labs in the same place as I. She is the same Alice from the curry fundraiser that you can read about here. Introduction over and with no further ado, Alice!

I guess my love of science started as a child with my love of baking. My grandmother was a farmer’s wife and a skilled baker who understood the science of baking. I was taught from a young age there was a major need to work quickly once wet and dry ingredients were combined as “the chemical reactions were starting” and I was fascinated by how something liquid can become a beautifully aerated spongy cake.

I grew up in a household of mathematicians, physicists and engineers. I was a bit of an oddity as I was not a maths or a physics genius, I liked maths but it was never my strong point. At one point my mother was convinced I was going to be the artist or linguist of the family. However, I fell in love with chemistry in second year of high school, fascinated by the ability of substances to react and form entirely new ones. I am a very great believer in the concept of “what’s for you won’t go by you” and as such I think I was very lucky that my advisor of studies suggested I take biology at Intermediate 2 to compliment my chemistry.

By the time I had to start thinking about careers, I loved both my science subjects and wanted very much to use them both if possible, although I wasn’t really sure how to go about it. After a careers test at school produced a really big path line to pharmaceuticals, I started to think seriously if that was for me, taking a week’s work experience at a pharmaceutical testing company. After experiencing industry and real labs, I knew that it was the life I wanted. Having read up a bit, I decided to go into pharmacology because the effect of drugs on the body interested me.

I studied pharmacology at the University of Strathclyde for 2 and a half years before going on placement at a company which specialised in rescue formulation and controlled release. Over the course of my 6-month placement, I learnt how to formulate, how to test tablets and how industry operates, growing massively in confidence. This stint completely changed my perception of what I wanted to do with my life. I realised I enjoyed formulating drugs more than testing them. I went back and finished my degree, gaining a range of pharmacology skills. However, my experience in industry cemented my wish to change discipline to pharmaceutical sciences and formulation, and learn more in this field.

I undertook a Master’s degree by research in Drug Delivery Systems. As it was a change in discipline, I ended up working with a supervisor with a chemistry background who taught me about crystalline form and analytical techniques, which would prove useful later, and I will always be grateful to him. My Master’s definitely inspired me to stay in formulation and the more chemistry oriented side of pharmaceutical research. As a result, I now work as a PhD student in innovative formulation, coming up with more efficient ways of giving patients medication.
What I love about my work is every day is different, it never gets boring. Someone once said to me a PhD is like a roller coaster – some days are amazing and some days are awful but it’s all about the ride and I love it! As for the baking – on the off days there is always a cake or a macaron to make!

Are you inspired by Alice's story? Have you ever thought about the science behind baking?

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  1. What a lovely story. I am so inspired by it.

  2. Wow this sounds like such an interesting career path! :)

  3. I am loving this series, really inspiring stories! xo


  4. I was terrible at Science! Really inspiring read x

  5. Alice is such an inspiration, I loved reading this, loving the series!


  6. So inspirational! I love science too - biology and chemistry, I was terrible at Physics - too much maths! H x

  7. This is a fantastic story and such an inspirational one as well!

  8. Definitely inspiring! I always loved science but never felt like I would make a career out of it. Recently I've been looking into open university courses that I could possible do later on in life! I really love hearing about how science really do revolve around everything! Same with maths!

  9. What an interesting career. I loved science at school, which is probably part of the reason I went into healthcare.

  10. Wow! More of this kind of story, please. :) Honestly not so good in science so I adore Alice and all the ladies who love it. :)

  11. Being an ex-scientific myself, this made interesting reading.

  12. Such an interesting education she has. I never really thought much about the sciences when I was in school as I was always far more into the creative side x