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Alumni Profiles

York Chemistry alumni include Bryan Gray who is currently the Chairman of the Northwest Regional Development Agency.

Bryan spent almost 20 years working for ICI and, until 2001, was Chairman of Preston North End Football Club.

Dr Anthony Wild, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Medpointe, a speciality pharmaceutical company based in the USA, completed his undergraduate studies at York.

The historian and broadcaster, Dr Adam Hart-Davis, carried out his doctoral studies in organometallic chemistry in the department.

Dr Chris Hewitt

Director Business Development, Sigma-Aldrich, Milwaukee, USA

photo of Chris Hewitt

"I chose York because of the college system and a commitment to success for the students. After completing the Chemistry, Management and Industry course, I followed it up with a PhD. The combination really prepared me well for the transition to industry. I started in research and development and then applied my learning from York in the transition to management. I think it's rare that you get the opportunity to apply so many of the things you learn in University over a 20+ career in industry; and have fun doing it. I now lead the chemistry innovation activities in our company and get to combine cool science with real practical business application to bring new products and technologies to market every day. It's great seeing and being involved in the ways that chemistry impacts our daily lives; from computer chips to new pharmaceuticals."

Dr Nathalie Huther

Product Manager, Biotage, Cardiff

photo of Nathalie Huther

"I first discovered the University of York in 2000 during a 4-month European exchange (Erasmus) while completing my undergraduate degree in Chemistry at the University of Strasbourg in France. I enjoyed my time there so much that I then decided to stay there to study towards a PhD in Chemistry. The beauty of the city and the campus made York a very attractive place to study. I also felt that the quality of research and teaching would be a very good preparation towards a successful career in industry. And it was: since leaving York in 2003, I had various roles as a synthetic chemist in the UK working for both small and large organisations including Ultrafine in Manchester (now SAFC, part of Sigma Aldrich), Excelsyn Molecular Development in North Wales and AstraZeneca in Alderley Park. In January 2008, I finally left the lab for a more senior role as a product manager for Biotage in Cardiff, using my experience in industry to provide new tools for chemical synthesis, in particular resin bound reagents and work-up solutions."

Lucy Newton

PGCE student, York

Lucy Newton

"I completed my undergraduate career at York in 2008, gaining a BSc in Chemistry. I picked York because of the wide range of Chemistry option modules and the very supportive environment the Chemistry Department. I chose a bachelors degree because I knew I wanted to go into teaching, and everyone was very supportive of this dream. When deciding on third year projects, there was the opportunity to do a school-based project. I jumped at the chance to go into a school and carry out a research project that involved developing some teaching-materials on a Chemistry-related topic. The project provided me with valuable experiences within a school including observing and leading teaching classes, using schemes of work and working in a professional environment. These experiences helped me to be successful at my PGCE (‘teacher training’) interview. I am now working to complete my PGCE year at York in the Education Department and I have accepted a teaching post in Hull for September 2009. I genuinely believe that my third year project gave me an advantage over other PGCE or job interview candidates and I am very grateful that York was able to give me this opportunity."

Jennifer Rudd

PhD Student, University of Basel

Jennifer Payley photo

After completing a varied set of A-Levels (Chemistry, Maths, Music and German) I wanted a degree where I could use all of them. The University of York offered a Chemistry degree with the option for a year abroad and the large number of musical societies at the university also attracted me. After three years at York I spent my final year at Universität Münster, Germany, to complete the MChem Year Abroad degree. Spending a year in Germany was a great way to experience a different country, language and culture with a safety net. Supervisors were on hand in York and Münster in case a problem arose and the Erasmus team handled all of the paperwork! It was really interesting seeing chemistry research on the continent and knowing that I had survived the year gave me the confidence to look further afield than the UK for a PhD degree. I am now studying for a PhD at the University of Basel in Switzerland doing a research project in an area of Chemistry that I really enjoyed from my undergraduate days at York.

Nick Burton

Technologist, Infineum UK Ltd

Nick Burton 2

I’ve spent nine years in technical roles and six in more commercially-focused roles. My current role involves formulating new engine oils for a major lubricant marketer.York was the perfect location for me, with its campus setting and college system being the ideal way for me to transfer from rural mid Wales into the wider world.

I chose the chemistry course because of its modular structure and the clear importance of teaching in the department.

I gained a first year sponsorship from Castrol, which was the location for a work placement at the end of my second year and also my MChem industrial placement. I was really happy that the industrial placement was in the final year of the course, it makes so much sense for it to happen then. Doing the placement showed me that I wanted to go straight into industry instead of doing a PhD.
After graduating in 2004 I was recruited by Infineum, where I’ve now been working for 15 years.

I really enjoy working at the customer interface, communicating technical items to a commercial audience and working on a product that is relevant to so many people.