Louise Natrajan

EPSRC Career Acceleration Fellow

Louise Natrajan

I really enjoy working with and being closely involved in the research of my group - they are all inspirational in different ways and are a joy to work with.


How would you summarise your research to undergraduates?

We make and measure complexes of metal ions that luminesce, or glow in the dark, for optical imaging applications relating to nuclear waste disposal and treatment, biological imaging and optical display technologies.

Principally, we are investigating and trying to understand the intrinsic optical properties of actinide compounds in order to study the speciation, reactivity and redox chemistry of both stable and unstable oxidation states so we can develop optical imaging techniques of trace radioactive species related to nuclear fission activities.

What do you think makes the School distinctive?

The diversity of the staff who work here, the extensive expertise available and most of all, the approachability and support of all the staff. I never feel alone and there is always someone wiling to help out and give advice when needed.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

Facilitating people’s learning and seeing the students learn so quickly.

One week they’ll be beginning a new course and the next week we can have a good discussion about the subject and take the concepts to state of the art research and put their knowledge into context. When the penny drops, so to speak, it is priceless!

How do you make your teaching up-to-date, innovative and inspirational?

In my fourth year course, I use recent literature as examples, and I like to involve the students in practical demonstrations. For example, when discussing optical imaging in biology, I use glowsticks as a tool to discuss colour perception; this is always good fun!

In tutorials, I think it is important to place the subject into context in terms of research currently being carried out, so we often chat about applications, and if possible, we go on ‘field trips’ to see a particular instrument in action.

What do you enjoy most about research?

I really enjoy working with and being closely involved in the research of my group - they are all inspirational in different ways and are a joy to work with. I am very lucky.

What have been the highlights of your career?

I think the real highlight so far has been the ability to build up an extensive research group with researchers from different backgrounds; this makes working with them and developing new ideas a lot of fun!

How long have you been at the School? What keeps you there?

I have been here since 2005, so a long time now! Firstly as a Postdoctural and then as an independent research fellow. It has definitely been a remarkable journey. I think what mainly keeps me here is the fantastic range of facilities and expertise we have in the School and the immense support of all my colleagues here.

When a student completes their course, what for you are the measures of success?

One thing that really makes me proud to do my job is seeing how the students mature and develop from the beginning to the end of their degree, and how they become inspired to do science and develop a niche expertise. Overall, if they are happy with what they have experienced along the way and have a clear idea of a career path (be it chemistry or something else entirely!), this is a great indicator of success for me.

How do you think students remember you?

Probably, that small woman who does glow in the dark radioactive things!!

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