After completing his undergraduate degree and PhD in chemistry at the University of Strathclyde, Fraser decided to pursue a career in teaching, working as a high school teacher for a few years.
Finding that he was missing research, Fraser returned to Strathclyde to do a postdoc, before spending a few years working as a senior lecturer at both the University of Lincoln and the University of Huddersfield.
More recently, Fraser has moved back to Strathclyde to undertake a position as a chancellor’s fellow.
“Day to day, I do lots of admin work, research activities and grant writing. I’ve also got a team of people that I manage, train and guide who are working in the lab on various projects.
My research is primarily focused on designing new antibiotics. One project that I’m involved in has been going on now for about 15 years. We’ve got one compound that’s ready to go into phase three clinical trials to treat the hospital superbug infection caused by Clostridium difficile. But my main role over the past few years has been trying to expand the therapeutic potential of this new class of compound.
"It’s exciting because we’ve been able to demonstrate that it has antifungal and antiparasitic potential, and in a recent project with Public Health England, some of our compounds have been found as active against COVID-19.”
Throughout his career, Fraser has been a member of the Royal Society of Chemistry, joining in his first year at university. Since then, he has worked hard to continue his professional development, and has gained chartered chemist, chartered scientist and chartered science teacher status.
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"Chartered chemist was the first one I applied for as I knew it was widely recognised as an important symbol of status and something that would be useful for my professional development. It was helpful for me as an early career chemist as it ensured I was developing professionally and using the recommended framework to do so.
“My chartered science teacher status is something I really value, not just with my background as a high school teacher, but as something I could do to make sure that I was up to standard in higher education teaching"
I think CChem, CSci and CSciTeach are all useful metrics for people to see that you are maintaining your professional development and it can be helpful in so many areas of life, for example when applying for jobs, as it can help you stand out.
Fraser is also a committee member for the Education Division Scotland, Chemists’ Community Fund and chair of Scotland’s Regional Steering Group, where he partakes in regular activity to support other members in the RSC’s community.
“As an education committee member, we’re focused on supporting teachers in Scotland and making sure their voices are heard. Very recently we conducted a survey of teachers working in schools with regards to various challenges of the curriculum for excellence. The results from that survey have been used to inform the members of parliament, and the RSC has internally used the data to support the sending of letters to the Scottish government as well.
“I’ve met hundreds of people through being a member of committees and divisions. Being involved more heavily in the running of the RSC has helped me to meet a lot of people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. And the networking capabilities are really good in terms of career development.
“If you’re thinking about joining a committee, do it. The education committee is really passionate and we’ve got several teachers on board already. But we’re always on the lookout for more – the more the merrier!”
Membership is incredibly useful, and I’ve developed a large network of colleagues that I wouldn’t have without the RSC. The benefits that you get from being a member – particularly things that you might not anticipate at the time of joining – are so important. The hardship funds, the careers advice… there’s a lot of things that the RSC do that you might not need immediately, but it’s a really helpful thing to have should you need them later on.
Balancing his enthusiasm for education with his passion for research, Fraser continues to be a STEM ambassador through the Royal Society of Chemistry, going into schools to promote both chemistry and the RSC to children.
“I’ve been awarded a couple of outreach grants where we’ve looked at Scotland-wide outreach projects, with particular focus on schools with underrepresented pupils in higher education. Because I used to be a high school teacher, I really understand the benefits and impact of high quality outreach and the importance of enthusing pupils with chemistry, making them aware of all the different career paths.”
Fraser plans to continue his membership with the RSC for many years to come.