...make an impact on climate change and the plastics problem. My group work on making new plastics which are derived from renewable resources, like carbon dioxide or waste biomass, instead of petrol. By using these renewable resources we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions in plastic production and recycle wastes. As an added benefit, many these new plastics are more easily recyclable and some are biodegradable so they can help reduce plastic pollution.
...Shohei Inoue who worked at the University of Tokyo – he was a true innovator who was decades ahead in examining the fundamental science of carbon dioxide utilization. He was highly creative and solved many problems with great elegance and originality.
...cycling, swimming and climbing mountains. At school I enjoyed learning languages and studied for a year of my first degree in Spain.
...I liked problem solving and wanted to make a difference to environmental problems. The first time I came across the periodic table was in a beautiful illustrated book called Masquerade by Kit Williams, who was a local artist in Gloucestershire where I grew up. My friends and I were really keen to solve this puzzle and discover the buried golden hare – later on we discovered the solution required an understanding of Chemistry. At the time, I had never heard of the periodic table and I remember being quite inspired by this mysterious ‘other world’ of elements, each with its own symbol.
...one amazing aspect of Chemistry is that we can create completely new molecules and materials. Another excellent aspect of my job is working in teams to solve problems, often this involves working and cooperating with other scientists around the world.
...change the way we make, use, recycle and dispose of plastics.
...believe in yourself and maths will get easier! When you have questions, ask the teachers about them rather than feeling you are less intelligent than other people.
A-levels in Chemistry, Physics, Maths and Spanish
A BSc in Chemistry with a year in Europe (Spain) at Imperial College London
A PhD in Organometallic Chemistry at Imperial College London
Postdoctoral positions in Biodegradable Polymers at the University of Minnesota, and Light-emitting Plastics at the University of Cambridge