A PhD student at the University of Strathclyde, Leah McGee first found her interest in chemistry at an early age.
“I always quite enjoyed chemistry at school,” says Leah. “And to be honest, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do when I left. When it came to deciding on what to do at university, I knew chemistry was a very well-thought-of degree and that it could lead to lots of opportunities for me. I started my undergraduate degree in forensic and analytic chemistry in 2015 – and I definitely made the right decision!”
After spending three years on the course, Leah jumped at the chance to do a placement at Sosei Heptares in Cambridge, where she focused on drug discovery for a year. Finding that she enjoyed it much more than her forensic and analytic chemistry course, she switched over to pure and applied chemistry for her Master’s degree, and hasn’t looked back since.
Now, my PhD is in medicinal chemistry, looking at understanding the mechanism of action of a new class of anti-infective agents called Strathclyde minor groove binders. I’m only in my first year, but I’m really enjoying it so far!
Leah has been part of the RSC since 2015, where she was encouraged to join during her first year of her undergraduate degree.
“We had members from the Royal Society of Chemistry come to our university to tell us all about the RSC and what it does for the chemistry community. I signed up that day, and I’ve been part of it ever since.”
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So far, Leah has been to one conference organised by the RSC. “Back when I was on my placement, I attended a poster presentation organised by the RSC at the University of Cambridge. As part of the conference, the late stage PhD students gave a few minutes talk about their posters, which I found extremely helpful as it was the first time I had been to an event like that.
“At the end of the conference, I was able to speak to a lot of different people who had attended, and also the PhD students who had presented the posters. It really helped with my knowledge and was a great opportunity for me to meet more people in the field.”
Leah is looking forward to continuing her membership into her career. “I think being a member of the Royal Society of Chemistry gives you a feeling of community, and a place where you can go to find out extra research about your field. I think that membership will benefit me in the future, whether it be support in looking for jobs or just inspiration for what I can do.
“One of the best things about the RSC is that there’s always people to speak to if you’re struggling, or if you just want some more information about a certain topic. So I would definitely encourage other people to get a membership, mainly for the support network, and all the chemistry updates that you get.”