I attended a school in South East London and studied Chemistry, Mathematics and Psychology at A Level, with AS levels in Biology and Philosophy and Ethics. My In2scienceUK Placement was at the Nature Inspired Chemical Engineering (NICE) Research group at UCL with Professor Marc Oliver Coppens, whom I am still in contact with!
The main aspect of the research group was to take the influence of nature and apply it to chemical reactions and engineering conditions in order to make them more efficient and sustainable. My most memorable experience was the experiment of pulse frequency effect on pattern formation in fluidised beds – in short this was a method to simplify chaotic dynamics which are found in reactors to have a more organised structure similar to that of sand dunes. Fast forward two years and I ended up doing a laboratory study on very similar reactions in fluidised beds!
The experience gave me an amazing insight into what a career could involve and how there are many different pathways which can be taken to reach the end goal as many of the scientists I spoke to didn’t have a degree in chemical engineering, but in many different fields such as chemistry, computer science and physics. I learnt a lot of methods and analytical techniques, exposure to this is something which wouldn’t have been available without this programme as school and sixth form only give you a basic understanding.
I went on to study BEng (Hons) Chemical and Process Engineering at London South Bank University. This placement made me want to pursue chemical engineering from a research perspective and so originally when applying I had a keen interest in completing a masters and PhD. In fact, discussing what I had experienced during my In2scienceUK placement at my university interview actually allowed me to receive an unconditional offer from the university.
I graduated in October 2019 with a First-Class Honours, having already started my job in August 2019 just 2 months after finishing my last university exam and receiving my results.
I am currently working as a Process Engineer at Schlumberger within the Valve and Process Systems division on a 3-year graduate programme. I was lucky to be chosen as part of the companies Women and Technology Campaign, there is more information here: https://careers.slb.com/inside-schlumberger/people/shantona
My most important advice is to trust the process, I am sure at 17 it feels as though this is a big choice in your life and that you will be tied down by your choice, just know that the possibilities are endless if you look for them and seek out what interests you. Don’t feel as though once you have chosen a degree subject that you must do that forever, for example I have chosen to do down the career route but at any point I could change my mind and go back to university and complete a masters.
My In2scienceUK experience was very inspiring and led me to finalise my choice to pursue a career in science and it was truly unforgettable, I am very grateful for the opportunity I had and advise many to do the same.