I make a lot of tea. However, not the kind of tea you might be thinking about - I use tree bark instead of tea leaves and methanol instead of water. I brew my 'tea' for about 24 hours. This extracts as many different compounds from the bark as possible. Then (instead of drinking it), I separate out and analyse the compounds that have dissolved into the liquid. If I am lucky I will discover a compound no one has found in this particular tree, or anywhere else before. If I am really lucky, this compound will be able to treat a particular human or plant disease and will be on the next train to commercialisation. Not bad for an afternoon cuppa.
Tea has played a large part in my career since I graduated with a first class medicinal chemistry degree from the University of Surrey in 2012. The following 16 months after graduation took me on a journey through the Royal Society of Chemistry on their graduate scheme - where I drank a lot of tea with local SMEs, funding strategic partners I secured for the company and businesses that I contracted to work on projects I managed.
I was also fortunate enough to drink tea (while writing news stories) for their magazine, Chemistry World. Only tea could help me meet their tight deadlines to transform complex scientific concepts into interesting stories that the public could understand.
I returned to academia in 2014 to begin my PhD in natural products chemistry, bringing back with me my ability to bridge the communication gap between business and academia - and a box of PG Tips.
This post was my 300 word editorial piece entry for a competition to raise the profile of the University of Surrey’s STEM postgraduate researchers with the business community. Find out why I got through to the final but didn't attend it in my previous blog post.