October 15, 2012

My Researcher Profile: Finishing

What have you enjoyed about your URSS project?

I greatly enjoyed working in a real research group with people who are experts in the field, who share a passion in doing what I aspire to do. Acquiring useful data, in whatever small measure, is also of great personal satisfaction as it feels like the beginnings of a pay-off for the years of hard work I have invested in furthering my education.

What have you found difficult?

The final putting together of the project has been more difficult than I expected it to be, as it feels hard to amalgamate all of the little experiences / objectives I covered during my 7 weeks into one cohesive piece. This is probably exacerbated due to the fact I went straight from finishing my URSS into my Industrial Placement!

How do you feel that completing a project has/can help you?

Completing a URSS project has helped me in my studies by aiding my focus towards my long term objectives and also helping to place some of the things I learn into a wider practical context.

Certainly, for me, completing the URSS project has reaffirmed my desire to pursue post-graduate study - I am sure now that I would get a lot out of it, despite the long hours!

I was lucky in that I was already sure I wanted to pursue a career in Chemistry, and further to that goal the URSS has given me a taste of what lies ahead down that path in the coming years and I relish the opportunity to take the challenge on.

How did you find out about the URSS scheme?

I found out through word of mouth, speaking to the professors in my department.

What are your 3 top tips for URSS students about to start work on their research projects?

Top 3 Tips to Future URSS Students:

1. Pick a research team you are confident you can work well in

2. Be ready to document, at least for your own benefit, what you are doing

3. Have a clear idea of what you want out of the project - the time goes quickly!

And a bonus tip - work hard! It's worth it.

What's next for you?

Continuing my Undergraduate Masters degree (currently on Industrial Placement) followed by post-graduate study. From there, I shall see where my chemical passions take me, but I am confident it will be in either academic or industrial research.

How would you sum up your URSS experience in one sentence?

Brilliant, do it.

Recommendations for the URSS

More of a platform/system to interact with other students on the URSS scheme. More interaction with mentors - I have not personally been contacted once by any one on the URSS team since starting the project - a little bit of guidance can go a long way sometimes!


Final Reflective Blog

What were your key objectives for completing the URSS and have they been met?

My main objective was to test my ability to perform in an environment as a practical chemist. Up until the URSS project I considered myself a 'paper chemist', but the project this summer gave me the opportunity to use some of what I have learned in my academic life in a lab setting with others, to solve novel problems. I was also keen to enjoy it! - it is safe to say I feel I achieved this!

Producing useful, good quality, results was also a key objective for me, and I feel that has been achieved as the data I acquired through my experiments is being kept as useful for the future to be built upon with further research potential use in a publication.
Gaining confidence in my ability and in my decision to pursue chemistry professionally has been very rewarding.

What skills have you gained by completing the URSS project that you will utilise in your studies or other aspects of your working life?

Confidence working with more dangerous chemicals and extra procedural knowledge has been a boon to me - especially since it has enabled me to start quickly on my Industrial Placement Year.

Discerning the practical consequences of academic knowledge is also something I will aim to do, as there is a great difference between what seems easy on paper and what is safe and realistic to do in the lab!

What will you do differently as a result of your URSS experience?

Investigating the safety and facilities in a lab before deciding to work there over a longer period of time. Consider working in more areas of chemistry than I would previously have done.

Have there been any unexpected outcomes of taking part in the URSS?

I discovered a field of interest and potential area for a PhD that I was not previously expecting to pursue.

What would you consider as your highlights of the URSS process?

Having a chance to work as an independent researcher, feeling like I was finally able to start using my studied knowledge for practical good.

Did you encounter any challenges, issues or difficulties whilst partaking in the URSS? How did you overcome them?

I did not find that I encountered any major hurdles, other than to ensure I was efficiently organised with regards to accommodation prior to the placement and then also with my working day during the placement. There were several weekends when I came into the lab to get work done as I was so keen to get it finished in time!

How do you feel about the URSS now that you have completed your project?

I think it is a fantastic initiative and would encourage others to take up the opportunity to be a part of it - not only is it very self-edifying, but it is also of great use when applying for jobs as it demonstrates confidence and ability.

September 26, 2012

Researcher Development Goal 2

What was the objective you set yourself?

Learn how to direct and design my own research activities within an exciting and challenging field of chemistry

What actions did you take to achieve it?

Getting stuck in and giving it a go whilst working on a meaningful project.

How do you know you have achieved your goal?

Feedback from my supervisor and colleagues indicated that I was working to a high standard and they trusted me to be capable.

What new or existing skills have you developed as a result of achieving this objective?

Time management, project management, using feedback and criticism constructively, adapating from mistakes, team work and communication

How will these support your research project, studies or career?

These are fundamental attributes in a career in research chemistry

If you were to set yourself the same objective again, what would you do differently?

Make a more formal plan, perhaps with a little more documentation so that progress is easier to track


Researcher Development Goal 1

What was the objective you set yourself?

To produce high quality work of a potentially publishable standard

What actions did you take to achieve it?

Regular discussion with my PhD supervisor and Research Group Leader to ensure the direction of research was strong and that the results being obtained were of a high quality. An over-arching aim to gather a set of results that could be used in a potential paper was kept in mind throughout the project.

How do you know you have achieved your goal?

After completing the research we are looking at incorporating it into a paper, which I deem to be a successful accomplishment of my goal.

What new or existing skills have you developed as a result of achieving this objective?

Existing skills Developed:

Practical laboratory skills, data interpretation, working within a team, project management, time management, literature research and interpretation, problem solving, self-reliance

New Skills Developed:

Use of a Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS) Machine, running multiple experiments at once, use of and interpretation of NMR data

How will these support your research project, studies or career?

These skills are all fundamental to someone who desires to pursue chemistry professionally, both working in the lab and in a managerial capacity.

If you were to set yourself the same objective again, what would you do differently?

Attempt to fit even more in!


URSS Action Plan

Summary

July 4th 2012

News of the announcement of the probable discovery of the Higgs Boson today (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-18702455) has prompted me to start my action plan for research this summer, here's to discovering the Higgs Boson of Chemistry one day!

Project Summary
Materials chemistry, and polymers in particular, are a hugely influential field of chemistry that is found in nearly all of the objects that we use on a daily basis - to gain an insight into this chemistry world and develop my skills and ability to manipulate this type of chemistry is very important for my long term aim of becoming a successful career chemist who can contribute something useful to the research community and world at large.
The aim will be to develop existing technologies within the BonLab group by using current literature findings and my own initiative to carry out experiments and report results. The project will centre around the development of a monomer/polymer that is capable of reversibly docking an aldehyde at a site on a side chain. The monomer will be developed by investigating methods of polymerisation that give the best control and quality. The polymer will be developed by investigating its potential uses.

Actions

Researcher Development Goal 1

What is the challenge or skill that I would like to develop?

To produce research that is of a high enough standard to potentially be published

What am I going to do to achieve this?

Discuss work with supervisor and team, read recent literature and ensure consistently high standard

Why have I chosen this particular objective?

Ambition to become a professional Chemist dictates this must be achieved

Is this achievable within the timeframe and resources available?

Yes, it can be done, but it will be a challenge and subject to how far the research is able to be developed

When will I achieve this by?

It's research, if I knew exactly how long it will take, it probably wouldn't be worth doing!

How am I going to know that I have been successful?

If my research is incorporated in some form which is subsequently accepted for publication

Researcher Development Goal 2

What is the challenge or skill that I would like to develop?

Learn how to direct and design my own research activities within an exciting and challenging field of chemistry

What am I going to do to achieve this?

Thorough planning, realistic expectation to make mistakes, but to learn from them

Why have I chosen this particular objective?

In order to be a useful Chemist and derive personal satisfaction

Is this achievable within the timeframe and resources available?

Yes, this is is realistic within the timeframe (~6 weeks)

When will I achieve this by?

By the end of the project

How am I going to know that I have been successful?

Feedback from supervisors and team will be useful in evaluation of my level of ability


July 04, 2012

Action Plan

News of the announcement of the probable discovery of the Higgs Boson today (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-18702455) has prompted me to start my action plan for research this summer, here's to discovering the Higgs Boson of Chemistry one day!


Personal Objectives for the Project


Challenge/Skill to Develop

  • To produce research that is of a high enough standard to potentially be published
  • Learn how to direct and design my own research activities


How to Achieve it

  • Discuss work with supervisor and team, read recent literature and ensure consistently high standard
  • Thorough planning, realistic expectation to make mistakes, but to learn from them


Why?

  • Ambition to become a professional Chemist dictates this must be achieved
  • In order to be a useful Chemist and derive personal satisfaction


Realistic?

  • Yes, it can be done, but it will be a challenge and subject to how far the research is able to be developed
  • Yes, this is is realistic within the timeframe (~6 weeks)


When Will it be Achieved?

  • It's research, if I knew exactly how long it will take, it probably wouldn't be worth doing!
  • By the end of the project


How will Success be Known?

  • If my research is incorporated in some form which is subsequently accepted for publication
  • Feedback from supervisors and team will be useful in evaluation of my level of ability

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