I grew up surrounded by science. My parents are both scientists, and my mum was in fact my chemistry teacher.
Music was also a big part of my life, my dad taught me to play the recorder at aged four, and aged six I attempted to play the flute, although it was actually too big for me to hold properly! But by eight years old, I had started to learn along with the piano.
When I reached sixth form I had to decide which academic route to take. I chose science, but my music has remained a much-loved hobby.
I opted for chemistry, maths and physics at A level, and then went on to study chemistry at Manchester University. From there I went on to do a Master’s at Aberdeen and then my PhD in industry.
My parents worked hard, my mum as a teacher and my father as a research scientist. They instilled a hard-work ethic and there was a high expectation to achieve. One of my favourite achievements, as an adult, is that my dad and I worked, and even produced a couple of research papers together. I was always encouraged to consider what it was that I wanted to do carefully, and to work towards that even if it seemed really hard.
It is my grandmother, who in later life, is a true inspiration to me. Her mother took her out of school aged just 15. She was lucky to be working for someone who believed in education and aged 17 she applied for a day release to go to university. But sadly she was refused entry because she was a woman.
Instead my grandmother was supported to attend night school and achieved an intermediate qualification by distance learning. As a result she was, understandably, very keen to support my brother and I through senior school, and passionate about providing me and others with the opportunities that she never had. That support has continued throughout my career, and she has always been supportive and interested in what I’m doing.
To others just starting out on with their careers, I would say: "Follow something you’re really interested in and enjoy, don’t be put off doing something you love just because you think it might be difficult."