From the Cornish countryside, Danielle Church’s passion for chemistry started with her enthusiastic secondary school science teacher.
“He inspired everyone in the class and was the starting force for my love of all science,” says Danielle. “He made each lesson so much fun and so interesting that everyone would look forward to going. I was in the top set, and even the students who were less motivated by science would gain a passion for it and reach high grades because of the sheer impact he had on us. He was wonderful.”
Thanks to that positive experience, Danielle decided to study chemistry at Northumbria University, where she is currently in her fourth and final year.
“I have been lucky enough to have brilliant lecturers the whole way through. They are so happy to teach you and help you after hours. They even make the difficult modules enjoyable!”
Studying many topics across her course, Danielle has developed two completely contrasting special interests.
“I did a placement in analytical chemistry at LGC Group during my third year, which piqued my interest in the subject. It was based in the sports and specialised analytical services department, where I got to test human and animal supplements for banned substances. It was incredibly interesting and I learnt a lot there.
“I also have an interest in organometallic synthesis, which I’m doing my final year project on. I’m looking at the use of 1,2,4-triazines in the synthesis of fluorescent lanthanide complexes for use within OLEDs. It’s completely different to analytical chemistry, but the science behind it is so fascinating.”
Unsure which area to explore further after university, Danielle is applying for graduate schemes that allow rotation.
My placement at LGC made me realise that I wanted to go into industry when I finish university. I’m definitely the type of person that loves being in a lab with a coat on, arms deep in something. A graduate scheme that allows me to do rotations and perhaps allows me to experience even more areas of chemistry will help me to experiment and see where I enjoy spending most of my time.
Danielle joined the RSC after hearing from her lecturers about the benefits of membership, and so when she became the treasurer of her university’s chemistry society she secured funding to give everyone in the society membership for free.
“I thought it could help us all. So far I’ve loved everything that I’ve come into contact with, and it’s definitely been helpful for me as a final year student starting to wonder about what to do next – the careers support in particular.
“I’ve found the RSC to be 100% supportive of early careers chemists – the website is so useful for reading about what kinds of career paths you can take if you don’t want to follow an academic pathway. They’ve got information about what different chemists earn, which is fabulous because they break it down into different sectors and age groups, what to expect when you start and tips for negotiating salary. They’ve got job listings too!
Let’s advance chemistry, together. Reach your full potential with RSC membership.
“I’m going to book a careers consultation very soon. While I know what path I want to go down and where I want to be, I know the consultation will help me to improve my interview skills and enlighten me on what I can expect from my first role.”
Danielle is currently in the midst of writing her dissertation and has found the RSC’s library to be one of their greatest resources.
“I use it a few times a day. It’s been so useful to search for a term and have thousands of relevant and well organised results appear, and it’s all free to access as a member too.
“The other resource I’ve been finding really helpful is the ChemSpider molecule database. It’s so easy to look things up and I love that you can search molecules based on their skeleton as it means you can see if similar things have been synthesised when you are trying to synthesise something yourself.
I really wish I’d joined the moment that I’d started university. Membership has been so helpful with my course, so now as treasurer of our chemistry society and one of the programme’s representatives, I’m always preaching about how good RSC membership is to other students and all the benefits that you can get with it.
After seeing how useful being a member has been for her degree, Danielle has decided to continue her membership into her future career.
“Everything about membership will still be incredibly helpful. The RSC library will allow me to continue researching and reading academic papers so I can keep up to date with everything that’s going on in the chemistry community. I’m part of some interest groups and divisions, and they’ll allow me to continue networking with people I’m not immediately surrounded by. They’re great as you can see what research people have been working on and that gives you a real eye-opener of what else there is in chemistry.
“Then you’ve also got Chemistry World, which I love because there’s such a wide range of articles that are easy to read and digest. I can read all about a type of chemistry I’ve never heard of, and five minutes later I feel like I’m an expert on the subject! It’s a great way of seeing what other people are up to and it gives you global insight.”
Danielle’s advice for those thinking about joining is simple.
“It’s a really supportive community where everybody wants to help each other succeed. There are resources on practically every aspect of chemistry, and the network it opens you up to is so important.
“But the RSC is more than just chemistry – they offer hardship funds and promote outreach and volunteering on issues outside of chemistry. I’d say if you want to be part of a well-rounded community that is going to aid you in every aspect of life, you should join the RSC.”