Studying chemistry at university offers a great balance between leanring theory and gaining hands-on practical experience and typically chemistry students spend as much time in the lab as they do in lectures.
As chemistry impacts on all the other science subjects, as well as medicine, its a subject with an extremely wide range of applications. With a degree in chemistry you could find yourself working in research and development in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries, as an enviromental consultant, or even in roles such as patent lawayer, where your scientific background will be highly valued.
Dan completed a four-year degree in Chemistry and is now a PhD researcher at the University of Sheffield
My aim as a PhD student is to conduct research in order to prove or disprove a hypothesis. At the moment I am spending the majority of my time in the labs of the chemistry department synthesising a range of organic molecules that can act as dyes for an exciting new method of microscopy (stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy, or STORM for short). Eventually I hope to be able to test my dyes using the microscopes in the physics department. For a short explanation about what STORM is, here is one of my blog posts: http://danthechemist.wordpress.com/2014/10/23/storm/
A typical day at the moment involves a range of activities from practical chemistry, to problem solving and data analysis and usually I work from 9am to 6pm on weekdays. In our research group we have regular group meetings that involve more problem solving, personal development sessions and presenting both your own work and work recently published in the literature. I also have teaching responsibilities on top of my PhD that include teaching in the undergraduate teaching labs, marking their post-lab scripts and mentoring a 4th year project student.
At the moment I’m quite enjoying the trials and tribulations of becoming more experienced as a synthetic organic chemist. This, in turn, has enabled me to competently(ish) mentor a 4th year project student and impart some of my knowledge onto him. For me, this is great because I do one day want to become a teacher! However, what I enjoy most about my PhD are the people around me. Doing a PhD is a great opportunity to meet people who work in a similar field, and who will actually understand when you want to have a moan about a reaction you did that didn’t work!