You definitely feel that you end up actually learning real chemistry.
Analytical Science &
What were you doing before you came to Warwick?
Before I started at the University of Warwick I finished my degree in Biochemistry at Aston University in Birmingham.
Why did you choose to study at Warwick?
I always wanted to study at Warwick, it was my first choice for my undergraduate degree but I didn’t get in the first time round, so I thought I’d give it a second try. I was lucky to get a place.
Why did you like Warwick in the first place, what made it your first choice?
The ranking is really good, I’m not going to lie about it. And, secondly, I am from Coventry as well, and I wanted to live at home if I could. I was familiar with the campus, where it was and I quite liked it, so that was another reason why I always wanted to come here.
What did you think when you first arrived at Warwick?
When I first arrived I felt a bit scared, because I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, I think. But I also felt motivated and enthusiastic about it, it was a new journey and I didn’t know if it was going to work out. So yes, I was a bit scared but at the same time motivated and enthusiastic.
So, now about your course – you did the AS:MIT course – was it what you expected it to be?
Yes, it was. It was quite hard, but that’s what a master’s is, anyway. You might think that it will be a bit similar to your degree, or to your final year, but it is a step forward, and you definitely feel that you end up actually learning real chemistry. That’s what it felt like to me. So yes, it was what I expected, but a bit harder.
So when you say you learned “real chemistry”, would you say that what you learnt in your masters was more applicable to real life?
Yes, and you learn how the equipment and the instruments actually work. Not only what they give you, but actually how they work and how you get your data or spectra. So you learn more about the theory behind it to have a better understanding of things. I felt like my degree was taught in a broader way, like you had to actually understand what was happening.
Did you feel the same difference between A-level and your degree and then your undergraduate degree and your masters?
The difference, I would say, is more comparable to going from your GCSE to A-level. There is quite a big jump there. And when you start your master’s, it is more specific, more in depth, which makes a massive difference.
During your course, what was your favourite module, and why?
My favourite module was probable NMR, or magnetic resonance techniques. It was my highest score of the year, but I enjoyed it as well.
What did you feel you learned from this module?
I learned a lot more about NMR theory, how ab NMR spectrometer actually works. NMR is not just about its applications, which mostly chemistry and biology, but the theory of it is actually physics. So even though I am not studying physics, I end up learning some physics as well. You also learn how to interpret the data, what information you can actually get, which technique is best for a particular problem… This module gave me a lot of knowledge about NMR spectroscopy.
So would you say this was quite an interdisciplinary module, then?
Yes, absolutely, this module involves a lot of things and it almost brings all the sciences together.
What was your research subject during your masters?
I was doing what I am doing my PhD in now. It was called “Using High Resolution NMR to Facilitate HPLC methods development”. So I was trying to quantitative measure of the interaction between analytes and stationary phase using other techniques apart from HPLC. We can get this particular quantitative measurement by using high resolution NMR and doing another measurement called T2 relaxation, which gives an idea of the motion and interaction of analytes when interacting with stationary phases. I was fortunate enough to carry on with this project for my PhD as well.
What have you done since leaving Warwick?
I’ve been doing my PhD, carrying on with the project I was doing during my AS:MIT course, which I am really enjoying. I have also been demonstrating in labs, which you have to do as a PhD student anyway. During my first year I also did Jujitsu… So yeah, I am just making the most of it.
Ok, so you mentioned Jujitsu… What about any other extra-curricular activities that you have done and have been doing at Warwick?
I did Jujitsu for my first year but I have stopped now. I do like to go to the gym quite a bit, so I do that often. I also to outreach: I’m from Coventry so my secondary school is in Coventry as well and I take part in an outreach project where I am a Student Progression Ambassador. Basically you go to schools and you tell the students about university, why they should go to university, what they think about going to university. I was very keen to go back to my school to do that sort of project with them, so I have done it for almost two years now. Apart from that, I obviously like to go on holiday, cinema… I am just like a normal student. And playing video games as well!
Can you tell me more about this outreach program?
As a Student Progression Ambassador, for which you get training, you meet with the students once a week for 8 weeks. Every week you go over different topics about university. The way I do my session is: the first week I basically introduce myself, just telling them I have done my GCSE’s and A-levels in the same school where they are now, where I have been and what I have done for my undergraduate, masters and now PhD. That’s the first week. Second week we talk about why they might want to go to university like better job prospects. We also talk about how to apply to university, so we go over the UCAS system, the pros and cons of living at home or away… And also things like how to make your CV look better or how to act in an interview… so basically lots of things to help them to get into university or get a job in the future. In the last week we have a summary of everything and let them ask any questions they may have. About a month after that we bring them on campus, and give them a tour of campus, showing them different departments, letting them speak with different academics in all fields. Just give them a feel of university.
And how old are these kids?
About 13-15 years old.
Good, that is great work. Finally, is there anything you would say to someone thinking of studying at Warwick?
I would definitely recommend it. The main reason is that the quality of teaching is really good. We get good professor across disciplines, at least in chemistry and science in general, as far as I know. Also you end up making some really good friends. I think it’s not just about getting a degree or a master’s at the end of the day, you also end up making friends with people you are going to be friends with the rest of your life. Another thing is that you might end up doing a PhD – the chances of staying for a PhD later on are quite high, either at Warwick or other universities, because the university is really good. So it opens up more opportunities for the future. Just keep in mind that it is a masters and it will be demanding, you have to make sure you have the passion and motivation to do it.