I would advise anyone thinking about joining this university to study Analytical Chemistry to take the opportunity and enjoy it. It is an excellent, versatile university with fantastic staff and great facilities. I would also recommend deciding on your project ideas and researching avenues as soon as the options come out, so you can give yourself the best chance of optimising your skills.
Tell us a bit about your background and why you applied to Loughborough?
Ever since primary school, I knew chemistry would become my life focus. Every opportunity that I had to learn more about the subject, I took it. I came to Loughborough in 2020 from Keele University with a First-class hons BSc in Chemistry. When I graduated, I did not feel as though I was done with my education and wanted to push myself to the next level and complete a master’s degree.
Loughborough shone out from the other universities as somewhere with exciting modules to expand my life skills and experience in an innovative, rewarding environment. The modern, highly equipped laboratories in combination with high scientific rankings and industry connections spoke for themselves and I was hooked from my first tour around the campus and laboratories.
Any differences between undergraduate and postgraduate study?
When comparing undergraduate and postgraduate study, there was a noticeable difference in the level of contact hours and applied knowledge. Postgraduate study taught me the skills to take control of my research and solve problems innovatively and apply it to the assessments. I found that Loughborough and the incredibly supporting academic staff allowed me to pursue research and tailor areas of my degree to suit my strengths and interests.
How's your experience been on the research project?
My MSc research project was wonderful, thank you to the unique opportunities provided by Loughborough.
It involved visiting the campus apiary, (yes there is an apiary on campus!) to work alongside the beekeepers collecting active samples from a live honey bee hive. I studied under the fantastically supportive team of Professor Paul Thomas and Dr Matthew Turner. My core aim was to create a series of standard protocols to allow future researchers to safely collect samples from a hive and analyse them. This fascinating research involved untargeted analysis of most elements of the hive using thermal desorption-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, to try and determine what compounds are being emitted solely by the bees.
Being part of a small research team was unique as it gave us the time and space to develop into confident analytical scientists. Solving problems and working cohesively to achieve the research goals has given me valuable experience and versatile skills I can take into industry.
What support were you provided with?
When completing my degree and throughout, I had the most supportive network across lecturers, my project supervisor and my personal tutor. The team were available with late afternoon/evening teams meetings to go above and beyond in supporting during out of office hours, and they were always willing to find space for a face-to-face meeting (when possible). This did not always involve academic support, the chemistry staff at Loughborough have a great understanding of what it’s like to be a student and that sometimes we just need someone to talk to. My feedback was always constructive, timely, logical and allowed me to push and progress further.
Your future plans
Following advice and guidance from my supervisor and academic staff, I hope to move onto a PhD opportunity where I can further progress on my research proposal, and I know my skills, experiences and qualification gained from Loughborough will put me in an advantageous position to be offered a PhD role. I don’t feel that my journey with Loughborough is over yet.