"Research, in general, is full of ups and downs. Perhaps this is more intrinsic to chemistry-related research but it’s possible for any researcher to spend long hours working on a problem only to find that there may not be an achievable solution. It’s easy to become disheartened by what seems to be an unending string of failed attempts, but perseverance is key. There will be experiments that work and perhaps give results that are better than expected, and the perseverance makes these little breakthroughs all the more rewarding. It is actually great fun!
"I have always wanted to work in a laboratory, ever since getting my first chemistry kit as a child. I was hooked on the wonder of making new things and discovering what stuff was made up of - and that wonder has never left me. During my chemistry degree at USW, I worked as a research intern for a company investigating the absorption and reaction of various gasses on supported catalysts by Flow Microcalorimetry. Through this, I was able to contribute to my first scientific publication which affirmed that research was something I wanted to pursue as a career.
"Although I love all areas of chemistry, catalysis and organometallic chemistry have always stolen more of my attention, so I jumped at the opportunity to do a PhD in this field, working under Dr Gareth Owen.
"Modern life relies heavily on the use of catalysts. They are used extensively in the petrochemical and pharmaceutical industries, and are also found in nature. Nature has had millennia to perfect these catalysts to perform countless roles that allows life to flourish. Over the past 70 years or so, we have been able to make organometallic catalysts that allow us to make valuable chemicals more efficiently. Although we have made great progress, in comparison to what nature has achieved, the area is still in its infancy. A great deal or research is still needed to better control organometallic complexes to perform the synthetic tasks that will unlock new and more sustainably sourced chemicals.
"My PhD focused on the synthesis on new transition metal complexes which have applications in hydrogen based homogeneous catalysis. It was highly successful with four research articles published in prestigious American Chemical Society and Royal Society of Chemistry journals with further manuscripts currently in preparation.
"I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at USW and have had great support from my director of studies. The chemistry technical staff are a fantastic group of people and no request has been too much trouble. I have had privileged access to the NMR machine (an absolute necessity for my research) and made great contacts and collaborative relationships with other research groups at USW.
"There is an incredible build up to the submission of your thesis and to the viva defence. However, when the examiner says: 'Congratulations, we are recommending you for the award of PhD' it can take a few weeks to sink in!
"Now, of course, I am very happy and feel that my PhD has given me more opportunities and a greater confidence to take on new projects."