I liked being able to make module choices in the later years and tailoring the degree to my own preferences. This ability to specialise in radiochemistry allowed me to stand out from the crowd when applying for jobs in the nuclear sector.
What route have you taken to get to your current position?
Before graduation, I discussed my career plans with academic staff in the School of Chemistry who alerted me to a number of employers that were recruiting scientists in the nuclear sector. The School's strong links with industry enabled me to make direct contact with a senior scientist at the National Nuclear Laboratory who invited me to attend an assessment centre. I prepared for this with help from the University's Careers Service and following the assessment centre I was offered the position.
What does this position involve?
I work on a wide range of projects supporting the nuclear industry in the management of radioactive waste. This ranges from developing strategies for treating legacy wastes originating from the middle of the 20th century to planning the future management of waste that hasn't yet been generated.
Using computer modelling, I help to predict the long term safety of waste storage and disposal options, such as the current UK plan to dispose of all high-level radioactive waste in a deep geological disposal facility.
What do you most enjoy about your current role?
The most enjoyable aspect is the range of different projects I get to work on. It is a good mix of short and long term (several weeks to several years) projects that provides both variety and the satisfaction of seeing a big piece of work through from start to finish.
What did you most enjoy about your course?
The group projects in the first and second years of the degree were a good early introduction to learning the essential skills of working as part of a team. I liked being able to make module choices in the later years and tailoring the degree to my own preferences. This ability to specialise in radiochemistry allowed me to stand out from the crowd when applying for jobs in the nuclear sector.
The modern teaching laboratory facilities at Manchester are a great environment to work and learn in.
What skills/knowledge from your degree have you found particularly helpful in this role?
The chemistry degree has given me a broad understanding of the core components of organic, inorganic and physical chemistry. The forth year allowed me to begin to specialise in radiochemistry, and my PhD in this area gave me the skills and knowledge that I've found invaluable in working in the nuclear sector.
What advice would you give to students applying for the same course that you took?
Choose a course that you think you will both enjoy and that will give you good prospects for a future career. I would recommend living in halls of residence in the first year for the true student experience!