The life of a 1st-year student in Medicinal and Pharmaceutical Chemistry
Hi, I’m Krishna, a first-year student within the School of Science, studying the Medicinal and Pharmaceutical Chemistry degree. Wow, that’s a mouth full right! The first response I usually get is “Woah! that’s mad” well science is a bit of madness, with great possibilities. Though I’m just scratching the surface in the world of science, I can’t wait to go on and use my chemistry degree to revolutionize healthcare.
Stepping into Chemistry 👣👩🏽🔬
There’s always this pressure of what are you going to be when you’re older or what are you going to do?
I felt the pressure too, however, I was inspired by the magic of science. Have you ever noticed something change colour or the explosiveness of a firework and thought wow how does that happen? My curiosity opened the door into science for me; I started to question more and became fascinated the more I learnt. Science being so broad gave me opportunities to really play with what exactly I wanted to do in the future which led me to Chemistry.
In 2021 I started my journey onto Chemistry. The Covid-19 pandemic affected all students in many ways, it cut my final year of sixth form short which meant I was unable to sit my A level exams.
My journey in discovering what I wanted to do in the future meant I couldn’t tailor my A-levels to the grading requirements straight into Chemistry. Immediately I thought panic, but just like Dory I kept swimming.
I realised I could find other ways to achieve my future aspirations.
This brings me onto my foundation course for Chemistry at Loughborough. On my foundation course I had modules of biology, maths, economics, and chemistry. In each of these modules I was taught how to apply my skills which gave me the leg up I needed for my first year. I was so thankful that with the right guidance here at Loughborough I was able to continue into my first year on to the Medicinal and Pharmaceutical Chemistry degree.
Prep & day in the life of a chemistry girl – lab edition
Labs, otherwise known as practical work, are the most exciting to experience as a first-year student at university. My favourite part about studying Chemistry at Loughborough is working in the STEM labs. This is the one time of the week where I can utilise the practical aspect of my degree and train myself for a future in the laboratory world.
THE PREP 📒
The preparation of labs is the most important, so we don’t look like lost puppies when handling dangerous volatile substances. This is to train us for industry standards.
My lab prep begins when I book a room in the library. I use the library rooms as they are so spacious for spreading all the books I need; the library really helps me get in the work zone.
The first part of lab prep is to read the lab manual provided for the experiment. An experiment I conducted was purification by crystallisation, in other words making crystals.
After reading the lab manual, I then write up a lab script in my lab book for me to follow to conduct the experiment. This includes the experiment title, date, and a carefully drawn reaction mechanism; this is to show exactly what we want to be formed from the reactants to products.
A little bit of research is also done so I get some background information on the experiment.
My favourite section of the lab script is the table for chemicals and their hazardous properties. I think it’s amazing that we get entrusted to use such chemicals; it’s a massive step up from a classroom science lab, and so much more fun!
The main part of a lab script is the method. This will help me conduct the experiment so it’s important I’ve done this correctly and highlighted the appropriate weight I need to measure out for the chemicals.
Finally, I need to add a section for my results table and any analysis necessary after I’ve made the product.
My final task is to complete a short pre-lab quiz, this is to make sure I’ve understood the quantities of the reagents & hazards and the key processes because we don’t want to end up making explosives! 💥
Now the most essential part: sleep. A good night’s sleep is exactly what I’m going to need for a 9am till 5pm lab day tomorrow.
LAB DAY: Wake up in the mornin’ feelin’ like P Diddy 🎶🎵
I wake up at around 7.30 to brush my teeth and shower.
Alongside a cup of morning tea, I pack my backpack making sure I’ve got my lab book, lab coat & goggles.
I make my way to the next destination: the kitchen where I meet my breakfast, tell me otherwise but nothing tastes better than eggs in the morning.
Shortly after, I will walk to the STEM labs. I’m always breaking the record for how quickly I can get there as the fear of being late beats me.
I cram all my belongings into the locker and put on my lab coat – giving me that Dr. Nefario look once I put on the goggles too.
A quick briefing is given, for hazard checks – such as substances that could burn down the lab if not neutralised (normal for a day in the life of a lab student).
THE EXPERIMENT 🥼
Now for the most exciting part, being let loose on extraordinarily expensive equipment for 8 hours.
For the first step of the experiment all the apparatus must be set up. For a crystallisation experiment, this would typically consist of rubber tubing, a Büchner flask (fancy flasks), funnel and filter paper. Before I get too excited about the filtration process, the reagents must be weighed as close to 4g as possible – my recording of 4.001 seems impressive to me. With excessive stirring and heating, the product is formed which we can vacuum filtrate, using the equipment we set up earlier to get those glistening crystals.
When I started to get more familiarised with my labs, I realised it was a lot more independently conducted at university as we have individual equipment and work under our own fume hood. This is such a plus as you really get to learn more on your own and whatever product you form is your own creation. However, we still get opportunities to work with others, and luckily for me I have a witty lab partner to make those long labs not so long. This gives us that speedy lab finish because who doesn’t want an early finish so we can get our Friday night party on!
All in all, chemistry labs are just like cooking, however, I highly recommend you don’t lick the spoon!
If I can do it, you can do it too
I think there is still so much out there for me to discover, and I’m excited to make new experiences and challenge myself further and find there’s always a new expedition awaiting the world of science.
I am proud to be a girl in science, to breakthrough conventional stereotypes such as the powerful women in science before me:
Marie curie: Physicist and Chemist, the first woman to win two Nobel prizes (that’s a pretty big deal).
Alice Ball: an African American woman who cured leprosy using her scientific findings.
Maybe science is a pathway for you as females can also pave the way onto the next generation of engineers, biologists’ mathematicians, doctors, astronauts, physicists, chemists and much more.
A quote I live by is “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them. The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” by WALT DISNEY
Magic and curiosity inspired my journey into science what will inspire yours?
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