Just got back from the Canadian Grand Prix and ready for your questions!
Favourite Thing: I love to pay around in the lab! Trying out new ideas, developing new products and working on your own theories!
Uckfield Technology Community College, Then Durham University for my undergraduate and Manchester University for my PhD
Masters in Chemistry, PhD in Chemical Engineering, PADI Scuba diving Instructor, EFR First Aid Instructor
I’ve worked in the UK for Johnson Matthey and in the UK and USA for Shell.
I work as an Aviation Technology scientist
Me and my work
I use chemistry to design and develop engine oils for airplanes – Everything from light aircraft to fighter jets!
Not many people think about these things, but there is an awful lot of Chemistry keep aircraft up in the sky!
As we as the fuel, every type of air craft has a number of lubricants, such as engine oil, keeping them running smoothly. Every time you fly away on holiday there will be a special oil design to keep the engines turning, as well as a hydraulic fluid keeping the flaps working and grease for the wheels when you land. I work on all of these and if you’ve been on a plane in the last few years, there is a good chance you would have flow on a product that I’ve worked on!
Each of these products is made in my lab using a mixture of special components to make it work perfectly every time! Unlike cars, if your airplane breaks down you can’t just pull over to the side of the road – so safety is a big part of what I do every day. Making sure everyone in my labs is safe and everyone flying on my products is safe.
My Typical Day
No such thing as a typical day! Some days in lab, some days on military bases, some days in my office!
There are many different parts to my job!
- I research the best components for my products. I look at their chemistry and work out if they will be good at working in a particular environment.
- I visit customers and users of the products. The best way to find out what I need to do is to speak to the people that use the products I develop.
- Work in the labs – I spend a lot of time in the labs with my lab team working on new and exciting tests to push our products to the limits.
As a part of my job I get to travel a lot! I am actually currently living and working in Houston, Texas, in the USA! In two years I have visited Holland, Germany, Florida, Virginia, Washington and Ohio on business!
What I'd do with the money
I’d go to visit schools and do the experiments that teachers aren’t allowed to do!
I’d do all the cool experiments, like making ice cream with liquid nitrogen and launching rockets into the sky!
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I love diving. I used to work at the Blue Planet Aquarium in Chester where I fed the Sharks!
What did you want to be after you left school?
Be an engineer!
Were you ever in trouble in at school?
What was your favourite subject at school?
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
What or who inspired you to become a scientist?
Just love blowing things up in the lab!
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
Scuba diving instructor (well, I already am a Scuba instructor, but I’d move to a desert island and do that full time!)
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
1) To always be excited by my job (which I am!). 2) To have always travelled to more countries than I am years old (currently 28 and visited 46 countries!), 3) Always be happy :-)
Tell us a joke.
Q: What is a chemist’s favourite kind of tree? A: A chemistree!
Learning how a plane works helps me to understand how to make the best products for it!
Many of the engines I work with are very very large! Performing tests with these engines is almost impossible, so I have to develop lab based tests that can mimic the engine conditions.
This is one of the four AeroShell Stunt planes. They perform tricks and shows at airshows, but also help me to develop and test new products.
I recently developed a new ‘Smoke Oil’ which creates the white trails that you seen behind planes at airshows!
This is what the engine looks like in a small plane. It is a piston engine, similar to the ones you find in cars and trucks!