Starting a new role in the midst of a global pandemic

  1. 18th Sep, 2020

I have always been interested in figuring out how things work and solving problems, which is what initially led me to study chemistry at university. I then decided to pursue a PhD in biochemistry at the University of Strathclyde, followed by postdoctoral research, which eventually led me to Ingenza! I joined the team as a senior chemist at the beginning of March, 2020. The company and role seemed to fit perfectly with my desire to carry on working in both chemistry and biology, and I was extremely excited to get involved! 

3 weeks later, the global COVID-19 pandemic caused lockdown to be imposed on the United Kingdom, and workplaces across the country were forced to change their operational procedures. As a lab-based company, most of the work here requires people to be on site. I was slightly apprehensive about how this would affect our day-to-day work at first, but the transition to socially-distanced lab working and online meetings was implemented very quickly and smoothly. This allowed normal levels of productivity to be maintained safely during the pandemic – which was great. This flexibility is testament to the adaptable approach adopted by Ingenza, and is mirrored in the company’s ability to work on a variety of projects that combine chemistry, microbiology and fermentation. I’m proud to be part of a team that can adjust its workflows so efficiency, and continue to strive in such unprecedented times.

A typical day for me starts with a run, either from the city out to Ingenza, or around the peaceful Easter Bush campus. After this, I catch up with the rest of the chemistry team to set and plan out our experiments. And of course, no day would be complete without regular maintenance of the analytical chemistry instrumentation. Once this is done, I’m free to review data, write customer reports and conduct meetings with clients – it’s a pretty varied role. Any other time is spent keeping up to date with scientific literature to ensure our methods and processes are as current as possible; we constantly review our methods and analysis to look for ways we can improve. 

Working at Ingenza for the past few months has been great, despite the challenging conditions caused by the pandemic, and I especially love the close collaboration with both the microbiology and fermentation teams. Working together to characterise various projects allows us to stay innovative, and continue to develop and improve our processes.