The Department of Chemistry’s cutting-edge research and innovative teaching is facilitated by staff with a broad range of backgrounds and a huge range of technical skills and expertise. The University of Oxford is a founding signatory to the Technician Commitment, an initiative led by the Science Council to support and safeguard vital technical skills in higher education and research.
The Technician Commitment aims to raise the visibility of technicians, encourage their recognition through professional accreditation, provide career development, and help ensure the sustainability of technical skills. Professor Stuart Mackenzie is the Institutional Lead for the University of Oxford, and the Department of Chemistry has more than 40 staff members who provide technical support for those enagaged in teaching and research.
Our short film shows some of the people in Chemistry whose professional work supports high-level research and helps to develop and encourage the brilliant chemists of the future.
Read a transcript of the film below
Professor Stuart Mackenzie FRSC:The Technician Commitment has four main aims. Firstly, it seeks to raise the visibility of the individuals performing these roles. Secondly, where appropriate, we seek to have that accredited by some professional body. Thirdly, to provide a career development plan for technicians in those roles, and in so doing to provide a sustainable route for people coming through these careers in the future. The Department of Chemistry, my own department, has more than 40 people identified in such roles and part of this commitment is to try to recognise all of them.
Charlie Farrell MSc, Senior Laboratory Technician: I was studying for a masters and I was coming to the end of it. It was in water science, and I was looking for jobs so it’s kind of very much by chance that I ended being a technician, but I absolutely love it. I love the diversity in the day to day, and the interaction with the students as well.
Louise Hutchinson BSc (Hons), Senior Laboratory Technician: I decided to pursue science and I took a biology degree. After a short break in my career I decided to come and work for Chemistry, started as a junior technician and progressed now to a more senior role where I lead a team and have taken more responsibility.
Dr Victor Mikhailov, Research Associate in Mass Spectrometry: I myself was a post doctoral researcher, my first degree was in physics and I did a degree in physical chemistry and then a fellowship in biological mass spectrometry. So I use all of this background to help people in the department to develop their research projects.
Kevin Valentine BEng (Hons), Electronics Workshop Supervisor: One part of the job that’s really interesting is the collaboration that we have with the academics; they’ll come to us and discuss the work they want to do. They’ll tell us about their research and we design the equipment to do what they want it to.
Terri Adams, Fellow of the British Society of Scientific Glassblowers, Scientific Glassblower: The most rewarding thing for me about this job is actually being able to produce something with my hands, and if it’s something which has a much larger impact on science and the evolution of research, then it’s kind of making my mark on history.
Nenad Vranješ BEng (Hons) MIET, Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory Electronics Manager: Every day is different. You come in and prepare your week, but that will all change.
Mukarram Ali BSc (Hons), Teaching Laboratory Technician: I come to work to teach these students and I end up sometimes learning from them, learning from how they develop as human beings in such a crucial stage of their lives.
Jennie Botham BSc (Hons) RSciTech, Teaching Laboratory Technician: You get to meet lots of different people and they’ve always got some interesting tales to tell, and they ask interesting questions of us, and yes, we just help them out with what they need to do.
Elisabete Pires MSc, Research Associate in Biological Mass Spectrometry: Every day is a challenge, every day is different, with different students, different goals, different problems... but I really love it.
Kevin Valentine BEng (Hons), Electronics Workshop Supervisor: The best thing about working here is the variety, and that’s why people stay - because it is the variety and the interest.
Neville Baker MA, Deputy Supervisor, Electronics Workshop: I worked at the university for forty five years, I came as a trainee from school. Fortunately I found a job advert in the Oxford Mail for an Electronics Technician trainee and so I applied for it and luckily got the job! I found out I’d been offered an honorary MA at the end of the year, when I was invited to a dinner in a college. It was a great honour and the day itself, at the Sheldonian, that was marvellous.