Josephine Stewart (Shield 2012 – 2017)
Josephine is currently in her fifth year of her MChem degree at the University of St Andrews and have undertaken a year long ERASMUS+, a programme which combined all the EUs current schemes for education, training, youth and sport. She undertook a placement at the Karolinksa Institute in Stockholm and we wanted to highlight the specialist area of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) careers and degrees as well as all that STEM encompasses.
Currently working on her final year project, Josephine explained that her MChem qualification is pure chemistry and working at the Karolinska Institute as a medicinal chemist was her year in industry part of her degree. Josephine goes on to say ‘This was more interdisciplinary as I was working on synthesising drug molecules to target DNA repair enzymes as potential cancer treatments.’ The Turing scheme is now available to provide funding for international opportunities and offers pupils life-changing experiences to study or work abroad.
When asked about her thoughts on those students wishing to take a STEM path she advised her thoughts, ‘My advice to students who are interested in pursuing STEM is to always try and take opportunities to get work experience, it will always set you apart from others, not only in applications for uni but also later, for example applying for work in labs over summer or applying for industrial placements. There are many schemes available such as Nuffield Research Placements which students in the sixth form can undertake which give a good insight into working in research. I took part in one of these in the LVIth and thoroughly enjoyed the experience and would definitely recommend to anyone interested in research based careers to apply.’
When asked about how she feels the term STEM is used, she explained, ’I actually think the term STEM is a bit too general as it encompasses such a wide variety of careers and specialisations. The benefits are naturally countless. I have worked in academic drug discovery and this is obviously incredibly important as has been estimated that over half of the adult population in the UK under the age of 65 will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetime (according to CRUK). However, there are so many different pathways within STEM, such as engineering, which are essential to daily life and thus may seem less glamorous but are no less, if not more, important.’
Josephine has just secured her PhD course at St Andrew’s in bio-orthogonal association of Janus-face fluorocyclohexyl rings for PET (positron emission tomography) tumour imaging and delivery of drugs to cancer cells. Whilst her time in the lab is keeping her extremely busy, she would be happy to provide any more information on application processes or further information on careers within chemistry. Please contact Josephine through the Foundation……