Natalie spent this summer working in the Chemical and Process Engineering Department at the University of Strathclyde with Dr Ashleigh Fletcher on a project entitled ‘A new method for generation of low concentration vapour streams for experimental applications’. The aim of the project was to investigate the use of mass balances to aid the development of new generation methods of vapour stream generation, rather than the current methods which use saturated solvent streams, and are extremely wasteful with respect to the vapour and carrier gas used.
Natalie undertook a structured study on the effect of flow on vapour stream generation, using mass balances as a theoretical basis. During the project, Natalie encountered how fluid research can be, and how projects are constantly being redeveloped as negative results lead to new ideas and new investigations.
Natalie also presented her research within the university by poster and oral presentation, and was awarded the top prize at the vacation student celebration event for her poster.
Speaking about her experience, Natalie said: “As I expected, the research placement gave me a clear insight into what completing a PhD or working in research would be like; what I did not expect was the extent to which I enjoyed the experience.”
“However, I am undecided about my future career path. Although I enjoyed my experience of research, I also discovered how frustrating it can be, and that you need to be passionate and knowledgeable about the area of research you’re involved in in order to be successful.”
Dr Fletcher also supervised two Nuffield Schools & Colleges students this summer. This scheme is designed to give Year 12 or equivalent students an insight into the world of research before they leave school. Dr Fletcher commented:
“At first I was apprehensive because of the level of experience that the students would arrive with, but the enthusiasm and interest that both students (Alanna Holdsworth and Elliot Smith) showed was amazing and it was a pleasure to host them within our Department. It is a great scheme to allow young people the opportunity to sample University life, as well as giving us the opportunity to understand how we can engage younger people and keep their interest in STEM alive. I would recommend becoming a supervisor in either scheme to anyone able to offer a project, and hope that many more opportunities become available across the UK as people become more aware of the benefits to all involved.”