Feeling Homesick

SSA eclipse

A glimpse at the eclipse last week as seen though clouds and a black film which DTF produce.

I am officially 7 months into my placement and this past month has been an absolute whirlwind for me, but brilliantly so. Firstly, I entered the race for School President of Chemistry and had to juggle campaigning around my work at DuPont Teijin Films (DTF), distance learning for the university and helping a friend out with organising Red Nose Day at DTF. I’ve got to say, campaigning from a distance was pretty tough as it’s hard to have a presence and get your face and name known around the department when you’re not physically there! Thankfully, I’ve got a few very helpful friends in St Andrews who were willing to help me out by putting up my posters and attending candidates meetings on my behalf (thanks guys!). Campaign week was fast paced and involved a lot of bad chemistry jokes on my part, but it was a fantastic experience to be had – topped off by the fact that this year’s student elections had the highest turnout ever and that I was elected! I’m really excited for the coming year, but for the time being, I’ll talk about my time on placement.

Last week we saw the eclipse – it was excellent. The peak time for seeing it in Middlesbrough (which is where I am based) was 9:40 GMT. Unfortunately, it was reasonably cloudy that day and it didn’t look like we were going to get a great view. Even if the clouds moved, low and behold, we’d all forgotten to get eclipse glasses. This is where working for a film company has its perks though, the

The rainbow cake a friend and I baked for Red Nose Day which went down a storm

The rainbow cake a friend and I baked for Red Nose Day which went down a storm

clouds did move just enough at peak time and we could all watch the eclipse through some black film the company produce. DTF 1, Sun 0.

One thing I’ve been working on this month is a bit of a mystery. Basically, one of the additives the company regularly uses within a certain film has started creating a coloured effect to the film. I know what you’re thinking; it’s got to be an impurity, right? It’s not as simple as that though – I’ve done loads of tests on the films and on the additives themselves (good samples and “bad” samples) and I have so far not been able to find a lot of difference between the two. We’ve managed to rule out a lot of possibilities through using UV/vis (we were looking for a difference in the visible absorption region), TGA (thermal gravimetric analysis, used for degradation), IR and NMR but we’ve not quite cracked it yet. It’s all quite exciting though, and very different from what I usually do at the company, and I must admit that I feel a bit like a detective hunting down a difference which could have caused a colour change.

A friend and I (both on placements) reunited at the ChemSoc Charity Ball in St Andrews

Charlotte and I (both on placements) reunited at the ChemSoc Charity Ball in St Andrews

This month I did take a little time off investigating and spent a wonderful 5 days in St Andrews with some much missed friends. We went to the ChemSoc annual charity ball, had a great time, and did it all again on St Patrick’s day. Being back in St Andrews did make me realise how much I miss being there and I have since been a little homesick for our gorgeous little town, its beaches and its people. As much as I’m enjoying my time away and the job I’m doing, I do miss the familiarity and cosiness of the town.

Despite missing university life, I think that going on a placement year in industry was definitely the right choice for me. My time here so far has taught me so much about how the industry works and what commercial research involves. I’m looking forward to coming back to St Andrews for my final year in September, but just now I still have five months left with DuPont Teijin Films and a lot more to learn and experience on the rest of my year away.

See you soon!

Claire

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