Keri McCall, Inorganic Materials Chemistry PhD, 2005-2008
My PhD research was focused on the synthesis and characterisation of functional materials. In addition, the materials research at Edinburgh is diverse and allowed me to develop an interest and understanding in several areas of materials, inorganic and physical chemistry. The range of experimental techniques, research activities and facilities I was introduced to during my time at Edinburgh has stood me in good stead for a research and development career in materials chemistry.
Since completing my PhD I have been employed at the brand new Printable Electronics Technology Centre (PETEC) in the North East of England. PETEC provides a unique service to bring new printable electronics products to market quickly by offering facilities and expertise that are rarely available in-house. As I am the only chemist in this small team, my role is varied and challenging with a focus on understanding and developing new organic materials. The wide scope of research within my postgraduate degree has proved to be essential for my role within PETEC.
Nicola Bell, PhD Development Scholarship in Teaching in Higher Education
As part of the PhD development Scholarship in Teaching in Higher Education I will be taking part in a number of different teaching activities within the Department of Chemistry. The aim is to give me experience of the variety of learning environments that exist within the university as well as the knowledge I need to improve students understanding of chemistry. I will also be taking courses with the Moray House School of Education to gain an understanding the best ways to stimulate a students learning.
So far, I have been demonstrating techniques and research skills directly to students in the lab. Interacting with the students in this hands on enviroment is a great way to build their enthusiasm for the subject and also allows me to see how different students learn in different ways. Soon I will be taking tutorial classes for small groups of students and later I plan on giving a few short lecture courses to larger classes. At the end of the program I hope to apply to become a member of the Higher Education Academy.
My hope is that this Scholarship will give me the knowledge and experience that I will require to pursue a career in academia as well as improving my confidence in public speaking and communicating science. I am looking forward to having the opportunity to present chemistry in a fun and memorable way to students with a wide variety of academic backgrounds and I hope I will gain the skills needed to train the next generation of scientists and innovators.
Sarah Thomas, PhD Development Scholarship in Public Engagement
The PhD Development Scholarship in Public Engagement offers me comprehensive training in the communication of science and the opportunity to participate in public engagement activities alongside my research. This has enabled me to develop my communication skills: learn to ditch the jargon, handle a variety of audiences and understand the performance element of public engagement. It has also helped me explain my research to my granny!
I am planning on getting involved with a broad range of activities: including presenting exciting, visual chemistry demonstrations to applicants of the University of Edinburgh, running interactive workshops in secondary schools, and engaging the public and communicating science through the media. I am also looking forward to taking part in the Edinburgh International Science Festival 2010.
Once my confidence and skills have grown, I will be creating my own workshop to run in schools, with the help of my mentor, Dr Elizabeth Stevenson, the Outreach and Public Engagement Officer at the School of Chemistry. I hope that this opportunity with allow me to make a significant contribution to science communication. I have a passion for Science and I want to dispel the "Science is boring" myth and encourage young people to seek careers in Chemistry!