Claire White completed her Nuffield Research Placement in 2003 at Bristol-Meyers Squibb. She is now an Industrial Chemist at Selden Research Ltd.
What was your project about?
I studied development of a method for the analysis of water content in a drug product.
What path did you take after finishing your NRP and how has that led you to where you are today?
I carried on my A levels and studied Clinical Sciences at the University of Bradford with the intent of moving onto medicine. During my time at the University of Bradford, I asked Bristol-Myers Squibb if I could return for another summer placement, independent of Nuffield, of which they accepted. Once again I loved my time there. I gained so much experience, knowledge and motivation during those 2 summers. After that, my heart belonged to Chemistry, in particular, chromatography. During my final year of university, I was contacted by Bristol-Myers Squibb and (despite not having an MChem as was required) encouraged to apply for a job opening as a QC Analyst. I was successful and began working as a QC Analyst using, among other techniques, HPLC. I was working in a job that I loved which all stemmed from my initial NRP.
Due to relationship commitments, I moved to the Peak District and took up a job as a QC Technician at Selden Research Ltd. Unfortunately there was no chromatography involved; however, a whole new world was opened up to me... Research & Development. I thrived on the independence and freedom to explore ideas and techniques to develop and test new products. After 3 years as a technician I was promoted to Chemist. This brought me to spending the majority of my time on R&D. As the world of chemistry began to evolve, I found myself being pulled into more and more regulatory work. The experience I had gained in a pharmaceutical GLP lab helped me to understand the detail and accuracy involved in such work. The regulatory work eventually required the company I work for to purchase an LCMS of which I have become “master” of. So, 12 years down the line, I am now doing what I had originally done during my Nuffield placement all those years ago!
Did your Nuffield Research Placement have an effect on the choices that you made after finishing school/college/university?
Yes. It was because of my NRP I returned to pharmaceutical work after I finished University.
Did you stay in touch with your supervisor?
Yes we did stay in touch briefly (hence returning to the company after University) however we have lost touch now.
My supervisor was Adele Patterson and she has been the biggest influence on my scientific career. Her outstanding knowledge of HPLC and her patience and encouragement were undoubtedly what helped ignite my passion for science.
If you could give one piece of advice to Nuffield students about to start a placement what would it be?
Be passionate. Some of the work may seem mind numbingly boring but try to see the bigger picture of the projects you have been given. These projects are important and your work is important to the company. The results you produce have real meaning. Find out why you are doing these tests and what is it for.