Thank you so much for keeping me, guys! It was a great early birthday present before tomorrow!
EducationI went to St. Fillan's Primary School in Glasgow, where I learned the basics of science - including states of matter: Solid, Liquid and gas. I then moved on to St. Ninian's High School in East Renfrewshire - This is where I first studied Chemistry, as opposed to just a general look at science. I studied for a little while at Langside College and then moved on to University of Strathclyde, in Glasgow, for my Masters Degree
QualificationsI did Intermediate 2s in Chemistry, Biology, Maths, English and French as well as Modern Studies, Media and Drama! At Higher I dropped the last three and picked up Physics as well, so that I had the full power of science (Maths, Biology, Physics and of course chemistry) I used all this science knowledge to move on to a Masters Degree in Pure and Applied Chemistry, with a few years where I also studied some Chemical Engineering.
Work HistoryAt 17 i started working in KFC, where I stayed for a couple of years, before moving on the Bar work to help me through University.
Current JobI now work as a Development Chemist at a Fine Organics company in Grangemouth.
Calachem Fine Organics
The elements important to my work are:
I am an Organic Chemist, which means I mostly work with Carbon compounds.
This doesn’t mean that’s all I get though, I also work with Hydrogens, Oxygen, Nitrogen, Chlorine, Fluorine, Palladium, Platinum, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium, Sulphur… the list goes on and on!
Favourite thing to do in my job: Anything involving colour changes or fizzing!
About Me: Hey! I'm Aimee and I am a huge nerd! Everything from Science to Comic Books to Dungeons and Dragons!
I live in Glasgow with my boyfriend, and I have a gorgeous little cat called Morgana! When I was younger I did a lot of theatre and drama related things, including Annie and Wizard of Oz.
I am a massive nerd and really enjoy going to Comic Cons (I even dress as superheroes when I go). I also play a lot of Dungeons and Dragons, which means I am great at coming up with and telling stories, complete with voices.
My Work: I am a "Development Chemist" - this means that I help other scientists fix problems with their work as they go from tiny amounts in their labs to tonnes and tonnes at plant scale! I also help fix problems we have in our huge plant reactions by trying them out in my lab and seeing where the problems might be coming from.
I work as a Development Chemist.
This means that I take processes which other scientists have designed to work on small scale – eg. with small test tubes and pipettes – and help them work out how to recreate it in huge reactors – about 2-3 floors high!
I then help people who work with the bigger scale reactions to solve any problems which might come up as they work on the process.
For example, I help them increase how much of the product chemical we get out without having to use more input materials! Or if they are adding a chemical, but it doesn’t do what they are expecting it to!
My Typical Day: I spend most of my days in the lab, mixing together chemicals and trying to find ways to improve the process - either by making them safer, or by increasing how much of the chemical we want we are getting out. I then spend time writing down everything I have tried and what happened when I made a change, so that other Scientists can do the same thing!
My days change a lot based on what specific chemicals I am working on that day – so it’s hard to describe a Typical day for me. One of the things I love most about working in Chemistry is that usually no 2 of my days are quite the same! What I’ve put here isn’t every day for me, but it does have most of the things I do regularly!
7:30am – I arrive at work (Super early, I know) and take a look at what I need to do that day. If it involves a new chemical or reaction or one I haven’t done for a while I take some time to read the Process Description, which tells me how to run the process – What chemicals to add, when to add them, what temperature to add them at etc. – and check if there is anything which is really dangerous (like acids or poisonous gases).
7:45am – I put on my lab coat, gloves and goggles and start my reaction of the day. Usually this will involve adding a couple of the starting materials, setting the reactor up to the right temperature, and then leaving the reactor to heat up or for a reaction to happen. I usually work in a Fumehood which protects me from most dangers – it removes any nasty chemicals which end up in the air, and also will help protect me if anything I work with explodes!
8am – I leave the lab and make myself some coffee with a little bit of hot chocolate in it. While I drink it I will check my e-mails to see if I am needed over at the big scale reactors that day – these are the big 2-3 floor high vessels! These bigger scale reactors are often referred to as a “plant”.
8:30am – I add in another chemical to my reactor and leave the reaction to continue.
Most reactions take a few hours to finish, so this gives me a little time to check in on our big reactors, or write about a previous reaction in my lab book for a little while. But I will need to check in on my reaction every once in a while.
9am – I head over to plant to check in on a problem they are having in the big reactors – this may be something like a white material forming in the vessel which we weren’t expecting to see! I will sometimes ask for a sample of this and run it on one of our machines (like a GCMS) to try to figure out what it might be!
10am – I check in on my reaction and write down anything about it which is interesting – for example if it changed colour, or if the temperature jumped up.
10:15am – More Coffee!
10:30am – I, again, take some time to write in my lab book, or to tell other people I work with if I found anything relevant to what they work on. For example, we talk to our engineers a lot, about what we’ve found with our smaller reactions, because they are in charge of trying to make the big scale reactions safe.
12:30pm – Lunch time!
1pm – My reaction will have finished by this time, so I take a small sample and test it on a machine called an HPLC to see if the reaction is actually finished, or if I need to do something extra to make it work properly.
2pm – I get my results back and find that the reaction has finished – Yay! So now I can continue on to the next stage of the reaction – this usually involves trying to take out any chemicals I have made by accident, known as “impurities” or “Byproducts”.
3:30pm – I test again to make sure I have taken out all the impurities!
4pm – Home time
What I'd do with the prize money: I would love to have a bigger budget for the work we do with our local schools - Most of all I would love to do a full "Chemistry is Cool" show for students.
Currently, my company and I do lots of events in our local area, with schools and with the general community, however, these mostly rely on making cool science with cheap, household materials, like baking soda, vinegar, sunflower oil and food colouring.
While this is incredibly fun and rewarding, I would love to be able to show young people all the amazingly cool things you can do with the harder to get chemicals eg. Make Ice-Cream with Liquid nitrogen!
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Nerdy, funny and enthusiastic
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
My highschool chemistry teachers really made me love the subject
What was your favourite subject at school?
Chemistry and Drama
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Not for much other than talking in class!
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
I think I'd be a biologist or a teacher
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Panic! at the Disco - I haven't listened to music in ages! I'm more of a podcast girl!
What's your favourite food?
Red Pesto Pasta with cheese
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I love a good games night with my friends. But I also went white water rafting in a gorge and that was pretty fun too.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
I would wish to go back to university to do a Biology/medicine degree (I want to go into cancer research), I would wish for more weekend (so that I could still do all my work but also go on more trips) and I would wish for a nice house filled with loads of really cute animals.
Tell us a joke.
Q: Why do centipedes have 100 legs? A: So they can walk.