Chemical photography is a specific technique that allows scientists to look within objects to discover the chemicals inside. This has uses in all sorts of areas: forensic science, creating new medicines, and even discovering fake artworks!
Patrick Wray, PhD student
Department of Chemical Engineering, Imperial College London
Career path and qualifications
At school I studied Maths, Physics and Chemistry at A-level. When it came time to choose what to do at university I knew that I liked building things and learning how things worked. I was drawn to Chemical Engineering because it was a subject where I could bring together the pure academic sciences with my enjoyment of making, designing and building thing, and I went on to do a MEng course in Chemical Engineering at Imperial College, London.
What inspired you?
When I was young I was always fascinated by how things worked and this ended up with me taking apart every toy I owned, no matter how sophisticated. In fact, the more intricate the workings the more interesting it was. During my undergraduate degree I hugely enjoyed the challenges and decided to stay at Imperial to study for a PhD in Chemical Engineering. What really inspired me to pursue a research career beyond just enjoying the work, was the idea that each piece of work I did had never been done before and that in some way each little thing contributed to the body of public knowledge in a new albeit small way.
In my PhD project I am working with pharmaceuticals, using new chemical imaging techniques to develop better tablets and formulations that could one day help improve the effectiveness of the medicines we all take.
The wonderful thing about my career prospects with a chemical engineering qualification is that they are virtually limitless. I have friends working in the oil industry, pharmaceuticals, banking, research and teaching, all over the world. I personally would like to pursue a career in academic research, and try to become a professor, or join the pharmaceutical industry as a research scientist.
Outside the lab
I enjoy playing tennis and badminton with my friends, playing with computers and technology, and always being on the lookout for the best gadget of the moment. I also take an interest in the community of my fellow students, and as such have held posts as the departmental PhD representative and on postgraduate committees at the student union, where I help to look after the welfare of my peers.