A day in the life of a chemist – Fraser Brown

  1. 06th Jun, 2019

Most days start the same for me – being rudely awoken at 6 am by an impatient toddler demanding a bowl of Shreddies. After the inevitable cereal explosion has been contained and the ensuing struggle to brush teeth is complete, I normally breathe a sigh of relief if we miraculously manage to leave the house on time and fully dressed. My daily commute to work typically involves swinging a leg over my mountain bike and pedalling 11 miles through the beautiful Midlothian countryside.

Come rain, snow or shine, I love to ride my bike; I always feel energised and primed for the day ahead by the time I reach the office.

The start of a regular week normally involves meetings with members of my team to provide technical updates on different company projects and discuss workplans for the week ahead. The dynamic, multi-disciplinary nature of our business means that keeping up with the wide variety of activities can be quite a challenge. This is one of the many reasons I love my job!

I was hooked on chemistry since the age of three, when I discovered how to make a soda bomb in my mum’s kitchen (much to her dismay).

I feel very fortunate to have somehow made a career out of science, doing something I’m passionate about.

I’m a practical person and being in the lab, conducting experiments and figuring things out is what excites me the most. More often than not, I learn something new every day, and that’s one of the coolest things about my job. I also don’t have to wear a tie, which is a definite bonus!

A lot has changed since I joined the company just over 13 years ago, but one thing has always remained constant, and that’s the feeling of being inspired by the company culture to push the boundaries of innovation and develop sustainable technologies that could actually make a difference in the world. As a fully certified ‘old timer’, I’ve been around long enough to witness the incredible progression from our humble beginnings within the chemistry department at Edinburgh University, to our amazing new state-of-the-art facilities at the Roslin Innovation Centre.

In my mind, our recent move is one of the highlights in our company timeline and something I feel immensely proud to have played a part in.

My role within the company has changed over recent years since I became Head of Chemistry. These days, my core responsibilities include interacting directly with external customers and companies to ensure we manage, resource and deliver projects effectively. My team is tasked with meeting all the analytical requirements throughout the company, which is a fundamental part of bioprocess development and optimisation. We regularly synthesise different chemical substrates and develop biochemical assays to evaluate enzyme performance. I believe our unique expertise in combining chemistry and biology really differentiates us from other biotech companies.

I think the main reason why Ingenza continues to thrive is our ability to adapt to customer demands and use the innovative technologies we develop for different industrial applications. Maintaining long term relationships with existing partners, in addition to building new ones through the expansion of our diverse customer base, is a vital feature of our success to date. I really enjoy working closely with the extremely talented pool of people who form the backbone of Ingenza and make it such a great place to work. One thing I’ve learned is you never quite know what is around the corner, but I’m really looking forward to finding out!