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Jobs that make a difference: Technical Supervisor

Dr Fabienne Pradaux-Caggiano is a Technical Supervisor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Bath. More on how her job is making a difference.

Dr Fabienne Pradaux-Caggiano in the lab
“What motivates me is knowing that what I’m doing is worthwhile and really making a difference to people’s health and wellbeing.”

Enabling Organic Chemistry research

Dr Pradaux-Caggiano is a Technical Supervisor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Bath, providing vital technical support for the department that is home to internationally recognised scientists, research teams, and cross-disciplinary centres that deliver world-class collaborative research.

Over the last 17 years, Fabienne has played a key role in a variety of teams within Organic Chemistry. Joining Bath in 2005 as a post-Doc, in a spin-off called Sterix (in the Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology), Fabienne worked alongside biologists and computational chemists to design new anti-cancer drugs and type 2 diabetes medicines. When funding ended, she continued her research on a multidisciplinary project at the edge of science to make metastable compounds (like materials that can change colour or aspect depending on their environment) then she finished her research career with an exciting project focussed on the use of coloured sensors to detect fluoride ions in drinkable water.

What motivates me is knowing that what I’m doing is worthwhile and really making a difference to people’s health and wellbeing.

Fast forward to today, and Fabienne is an integral part of the senior cross-departmental technical team in the Faculty of Science supporting its research and teaching activities and responsible for laboratory support, safety and purchasing.

Describing herself as the ‘go-to’ person within the department, Fabienne is a natural problem-solver who supports researchers in the laboratory to enable ground-breaking research that spans from fundamental chemistry to applications in catalysis, materials, healthcare, and sustainable chemical technologies.

What I really like is seeing different people every day and being able to solve problems quickly and efficiently. There is always a new problem, but through building a rapport with PhD students and good working relationships I have built up across the campus, I find the best solution possible for all parties.

From ensuring the equipment in the building is safe and available for use, to managing the chemical waste produced by the department – no two days are the same.

After five years in Pharmacy and Pharmacology and six years in the Chemistry department, I knew a lot of researchers, I always appreciated the support of the technicians I really wanted to keep working with such lovely people.

Lab sustainability

Fabienne is passionate about working towards better sustainability of the labs to support the Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF).

By getting people engaged and thinking about the waste the lab is producing, how we can recycle plastics and better manage the temperature of -80 °C Freezers we can start to really make significant changes to the carbon footprint of the research labs.

Despite always being interested in science and wildlife from a young age, particularly how plants and animals grew, Fabienne’s love for chemistry came late in her studies.

Despite now having a PhD in Organic Chemistry, funnily enough, I didn’t start out being good at it.

In fact, it did not come to me naturally - but by working on it, I discovered that everything clicked, and everything made sense to me, and I loved it!

Fabienne loves her new technical role and continues to enjoy meeting new people, solving problems, and relishing daily challenges.

I’ve been lucky to meet and work with such lovely people at Bath, where I feel valued and appreciated – it makes you want to stay!

Bath is such a wonderfully green campus – where else would you find squirrels, rabbits, and even a deer sitting right next to your lab!