I chose to do the final year of my Chemistry degree as a placement in industry, rather than completing a research project at the University of Southampton, to see what working in a non-academic environment would be like. There are strong links between the University of Southampton and the staff in the support laboratories at ISIS, so the STFC sandwich student positions were well advertised.
During my placement year, I worked on a project that aimed to develop a procedure for deuterating carbohydrates, driven by a demand from ISIS users. This has been successful and, thanks to my work, the group can now offer this service to support beamtime applications in the future.
In addition to gaining lab skills that I wouldn't have got from a university project, I have really enjoyed the support from the rest of the team: giving me space to try out my own ideas, whilst also being there to answer questions when needed.
Alongside my work at ISIS, while I was here I also had to complete coursework and exams for my university course. This involved watching recorded lectures and completing online workshops once I got home from work in the lab.
Whilst based at ISIS, I lived with other sandwich students, and took part in public engagement activities both at ISIS and back at the University of Southampton. This is in addition to joining one of the many Harwell rounders teams!
Just as my year with ISIS was coming to an end, a position became available in the group for maternity cover. I was keen to stay on and, having developed the key skills and experience needed, I got the job and I am joining the group full time.
My focus will now be on supporting the ISIS users, as the deuteration lab work towards the synthesis of their 500th compound for the user programme! I will also be supporting the new summer and work experience students about to join the group.