Page 9 - PERIODIC 2016
P. 9

hemistry Careers that Change the World




            Adam Healy (Worcester 2005) talks to Periodic      of the spectrum, the Surface Analysis Facility in the sub-


            about his role as a Fuels Scientist at Shell Global   basement of the CRL was the scene of many experimental
            Solutions.  Adam came to Oxford for his MChem      breakthroughs which made up for the long days without
            and stayed on to do a DPhil with Professor Kylie   seeing natural light.
            Vincent.  Since this article went to press, Adam   How did your time at Oxford help you in your
            has moved to a new role as a consultant at Roland   working life?
            Berger Strategy Consultants.
                                                               I have undoubtedly relied on my chemistry background
                                                               in my role as a scientist at Shell. The undergraduate
            What appealed to you about Chemistry?              chemistry course taught me how to learn at a fast pace

            I always wanted to understand and be able to explain   under high pressure. Later on, the chance to drive my own
            why and how things change.  I was fascinated to see how   project during my DPhil taught me some simple things
            nature uses chemistry to achieve its goals; in particular,   about getting stuff done. In research, things rarely work
            how enzymes, these vast biomolecules with intricate   first time – when it doesn’t go to plan, you have to figure
            active sites and electron transport networks, facilitate   out how to fix it, and you need to persevere to succeed.
            important reactions under challenging and varied   And you always need to be clear why you are doing
            conditions (did you know, a single hydrogenase enzyme   something, as this will guide every decision that you have
            can process 10,000 hydrogen molecules per second, one   to make along the way.
            at a time?). This curiosity led me to a Part II and DPhil
            in the Vincent Group, where I developed a technique   Please tell us about your work.
            for studying the active site chemistry of hydrogenase   Shell employs a huge number of chemists in widely
            enzymes using a combination of infrared spectroscopy   varied roles, from managing fuels and lubricants R&D
            and electrochemistry.                              programmes, to scheduling refinery operations and
                                                               developing novel ways to improve the efficiency of oil and
            Can you tell us a little about your                gas extraction.  In my role I work on developing new fuel
            experience at Oxford?                              products and communicating their benefits – customers
            Overall, Oxford was a wonderful place to study. The   have a lot of choice and we have to ensure that our
            opportunity to interact with professors and subject   products are of the highest quality. I also do some work
            matter experts in the tutorial environment was a real   trying to understand a bit about next generation vehicle
            stand-out feature (although I didn’t hold that view when I   technologies and how their fuel requirements will differ
            hadn’t done my assignment for the week!)  In the Vincent   from those of today’s cars.
            Group, I found it exciting to be exploring new ground,
            comparing our findings to the latest research in the field,
            finding similarities and building compelling evidence
            for new theories and alternative explanations. The “dry
            spells” – those occasional barren months yielding little
            useful data – were made worthwhile by the excitement
            of watching peaks in my infrared spectrum growing
            and diminishing in response to experimental probes,
            signalling enzyme states changing in accord with the
            Nernst equation… Oh, the joys of a scientist!
            My favourite places in the Chemistry Department were
            two quite literally at the top and bottom. The Vincent
            Group office on the third floor of the ICL was my go-to
            for caffeine and conversation when I didn’t have my arms
            planted inside the anaerobic glovebox. At the other end



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                                                                                                 Periodic
                                                            The Magazine of the Department of Chemistry
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