- Course: Chemistry MChem, BSc
- Year of graduation: 2018
- Job title: Senior Scientist
- Company: AstraZeneca
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/oliverring1995/
Undergraduate life at Leeds
Oliver found Chemistry to be a subject that heavily focussed on problem solving rather than memory recall. He really enjoyed learning various rules and principles but found it particularly exciting applying these to complex practical and theoretical problems.
He said, “I believe the School of Chemistry heavily champions this approach to learning in all aspects of their degree modules which was initially what inspired me to submit my UCAS application. The School of Chemistry also has world class facilities, a fantastic support network for students, and a curriculum that gives students the flexibility to satisfy their curiosity and study various topics before specialising”.
The School of Chemistry has world class facilities, a fantastic support network for students, and a curriculum that gives students the flexibility to satisfy their curiosity and study various topics before specialising
Oliver added, “Practical synthetic chemistry in the laboratory was definitely the highlight of my degree. Leeds puts a strong emphasis on applying learnings from the theoretical lectures and tutorials to the practical modules. The school also encourages students to take responsibility as they progress through the years, planning and designing their own experiments rather than just following recipes. This not only aids students in their understanding of what they are doing but more importantly why they are doing it. This approach also gives students the best chances of success when pursuing careers in research, whether that be in academia or industry”.
“Leeds has superb links with industry which have been fundamental to my success in pursuing a career in big pharmaceutical companies. As a student you’ll be invited to various lectures, Q&A sessions and CV/ cover letter writing workshops coordinated and led by those working in the chemical industry. This gives students the opportunity to see first-hand what working in industry involves and how to maximise your chances of pursue a career in this sector. Students will also be directly assigned 4 easily approachable tutors (personal, organic, inorganic and physical) from day 1, as well as a network of student mentors for additional support and guidance. Students will also have the opportunity to enrol in the careers for chemist’s module aimed at preparing you for industry”.
Oliver was also a member of the student led SHE (Safety Health and Environment) Committee. The committee aims to act as mediators between students and staff, helping to foster a well informed and safer chemistry department. Having spent a year working on green chemistry and reaction optimisation at GlaxoSmithKline, Oliver actively sought to bring back much of what he had learned about sustainable practices in the pharmaceutical industry to Leeds in his final year.
Elected Chair of the SHE committee in 2017, Oliver continued the drive policies supporting safer practices in teaching labs while additionally focusing on improving the schools environmental impact. Under the leadership of Oliver, the committee has supported policies involving the appropriate disposal of chemical waste, as well as organising sustainability seminars hosting external speakers from GlaxoSmithKline.
So far, the SHE committee has been a great success, with a 50% reduction in chemical accidents/ incidents, leading to SHE being awarded the 2017 Vice-Chancellor’s Health and Safety award.
Life after Leeds
Leeds has superb links with industry which have been fundamental to my success in pursuing a career in big pharmaceutical companies.
Since graduating, Oliver has been working as a process chemist at AstraZeneca, a multinational pharmaceutical company predominately based in the UK, US and Sweden. As a process chemist he works alongside analysts, engineers and crystallisation scientists to develop commercially viable, sustainable and safe manufacture processes to medicines.
“Typically, we are assigned to a cross discipline team of scientists to research & develop processes to active pharmaceutical ingredients. Our overall goal is to deliver medicines to patients initially for use in Phase I-III clinical trials and eventually for commercial manufacture after regulatory approval”, said Oliver.
He added, “I’m currently working on a medicine in AstraZeneca’s oncology portfolio in which I’m designing new synthetic routes to the active pharmaceutical ingredient. This has given me a great opportunity to trial various types of exciting synthetic chemistry, with the aim of verifying the most viable synthetic route for manufacturing the drug”.
“I love the synthetic chemistry side of my job and It’s fantastic to be able to spend every day problem solving in the laboratory. I also feel proud knowing that I’m directly contributing towards the development of medicines that have the ability to fundamentally alter our approach to alleviating the symptoms experienced by cancer patients”.
I’m currently working on a medicine in AstraZeneca’s oncology portfolio in which I’m designing new synthetic routes to the active pharmaceutical ingredient. This has given me a great opportunity to trial various types of exciting synthetic chemistry, with the aim of verifying the most viable synthetic route for manufacturing the drug.
Advice and tips
“Pursuing a degree in chemistry at the University of Leeds is one of the best decisions I’ve made. It’s given me the opportunity to work at various academic and industrial institutions, travel the world, explore some absolutely beautiful and exciting chemistry and gain lifelong friends”.
Chemistry is a massive subject and its impact on society is often overlooked. My advice to prospective students would be take every opportunity, seek them out and never hesitate to sign up.
“Chemistry is a massive subject and its impact on society is often overlooked. My advice to prospective students would be take every opportunity, seek them out and never hesitate to sign up. Success in life derives from putting yourself at the edge of your comfort zone, being super proactive and enthusiastically perusing every opportunity. Treat each of these as a stepping stone to the next whether than be an internship, PhD or a job. The School of Chemistry will give you a whole catalogue of opportunities, it’s up to you to employ the tools, training and support you’ll be offered should you decide to pursue a degree in chemistry at Leeds”.
Find out more
Discover more about our Undergraduate degree courses in the School of Chemistry.