Our business is centred on science, so as part of British Science Week we spoke to one of our scientists, Dr Andy Osnowski for an insight on why he chose a career in science, the advice he would give young scientists and ultimately, what he loves about this discipline:
What made you choose a career in science?
There was a mixture of things for me. An inspiring chemistry teacher at secondary who was happy for us to explore areas of chemistry that should have been off limits for practical projects to under 18s, such as oxidation reactions in red wine; an interest in popular science books and TV documentaries about palaeontology and astronomy; the logical problem solving that could be used for maths and science subjects; and finally, my parents. None of my family were scientific but my parents always encouraged me and kept my interest in science strong.
I chose a career in chemistry because it was the bridging science between physics and biology; I’ve been pretty happy working in science for twenty years.
What advice would you give someone looking to pursue a science related career?
If a problem interests you, never stop asking questions about it – to yourself and others. Try to apply knowledge from one area of learning to another. Don’t be afraid to discuss your ideas with others and always listen to what they say, you never know where an insight or spark of inspiration will come from.
What do you see as the next hot topic in the scientific community?
In general, scientists need to become more familiar with computer languages and programming. All sections of science are becoming more digitised and developing technology to handle and understand the huge data sets that are being generated will be a key skill for anyone interested in a career in science and going forward. Other potential topics that I see coming to the fore include:
Chemistry: Carbon capture and storable energy from renewables. REDOX flow cells are a very interesting technology that needs to move from the lab to an industrial scale. Quantum computing and the chemistry of solid state emitters behind it will hopefully revolutionise future processors.
Biology: Ethics aside, CRISPR and general synthetic biology has come such a long way since it was discovered; the applications and impact could be huge in the next couple of decades. I’m still a fan of aptamer detection technology but it needs to develop into small molecule detection if it is to maintain value.
Physics: Not really my thing, but the images that came out of the JUNO probe of sub-surface Jupiter were amazing!
What do you love about science?
The freedom that it allows to explore novel problems in a systematic and logical way. I enjoy the team efforts and the collegiate efforts of international groups, distinctions of religion, race and philosophies are lost when groups of scientists get together to discuss problems.
It has also allowed me to see the world, from presenting in the boardrooms of Tokyo to working on-site in the Arctic Circle. Science really expands personal horizons.
Anything else you would like to add?
Although first jobs in science are usually mundane and repetitive they are key to learning the basics of the art. Young scientists should learn from the repetitive tasks and push themselves to take on more responsibilities, to make them more valuable to their employers. Employers should encourage and develop young scientists to achieve their maximum potential and not just treat them as a high-throughput resource. The attrition of young staff from some major companies is causing a loss of talent and driving young scientists from the industry.