What is your role within MC²?
I am an Instrument Technician, working cross-facility within MC² and providing input to all things polymer chemistry based. Principally I deal with the maintenance, operation and training of MALDI-TOF-MS, GPC and DSC although I occasionally dip my feet into other areas, and I am Radiation Protection Supervisor for the Department of Chemistry. I am also the secretary for the MC² Health and Safety Committee and have recently been elected as the technical representative to the University Court.
How long have you worked here, and what did you do before this?
I started on my birthday in January 2019 and celebrated by bringing cake to work. Before this I worked as a post-doctoral researcher principally in France and the USA but also at Aston University and the University of Liverpool, and volunteered in a library whilst I was between jobs. I also started my job in France on my birthday, but they didn’t get cake.
What happens in your typical workday? And what would you say is the best bit of your job?
There isn’t a typical workday, so much as a typical work week. The principle part of my role is to enable users to get accurate, reliable data from MC² scientific instruments and that involves ensuring they are calibrated and functioning correctly and training and assisting users with their use and ordering consumables. I also sometimes receive internal and external client samples for analysis, so actively get involved in method development. I do have other technical roles within MC², such as liquid nitrogen fills and checking the mailroom for delivery of samples. Because I work cross facility I get to see all aspects within MC², rather than becoming too compartmentalised. This is the perfect job for me and with the perfect team, in the perfect place.
What is the worst part about your job?
The nature of instruments is that they can be a bit temperamental and it can be very frustrating when they develop a problem that is more complex than an easy fix. Whilst one of the best aspects of this job is seeing a student you have trained independently gain good quality data I think the worst aspect is when you have to tell someone that they can’t do their analysis at a particular time because the instrument is offline. Also, it can be disappointing when you read a paper that has used MC² facilities and has not followed the appropriate procedure for acknowledgments.
Tell us about a recent proud moment you had at work - Why was this special?
I’m actually going to describe a moment that is still in progress, which is being involved in the set-up of the online GPC in the DReaM facility. My PhD work at the University of Warwick was based on the online monitoring of polymerisations by this method and this project has been restarted in conjunction with flow NMR in the DReaM facility by the University of Bath and collaborators. I was commissioned by Dr Uli Hintermair and Dr Maciek Kopec to investigate converting an HPLC system and working with Dr Catherine Lyall (the DReaM facility Manager) to make it functional. I am very excited by this project and I look forward to assisting students and passing on experience in future.
Who inspired you as a child, and who inspires you now?
When I was very young there was a children’s book in my primary school about historic men and women in medicine and what they discovered and accomplished and how it benefited society, which I thought was fantastic.
In my research career I was heavily influenced by my PhD advisor Prof. Dave Haddleton and especially by my post-doctoral advisor Prof. Virgil Percec and their respective team members. I was guided by all of my mentors really, including Dr Sagrario Pascual at Université Le Mans who ensured I did not get lost in France.
I also have a some very cool older siblings and cousins who are a very positive influence on me.
Do you have any hidden talents, and anything specific you still want to learn?
Sadly no, I’m afraid I am very much WYSIWYG. However, I do speak a bit of French and signed up to the University language class. I do aim for continuous self-improvement and self-awareness and try to pass on encouragement to others.
If you could choose anything at all, what would your Friday evening meal consist of? Would you cook it yourself?
I think it would have to be battered fish and chips, in the traditional British style. Unfortunately, gluten-free fish and chips is usually only available on Tuesday in Bath, and on Monday in other parts of the UK, so I would substitute for Mac-n-Cheese or a good curry.