David Townsend

Dynamic atmosphere

As one of the first admissions into Lancaster’s Chemistry Postgraduate programme upon its opening in 2013, David had the advantage of experiencing the Department’s development into the world-class commodity it is today. “In the years I have been studying in Lancaster I have personally seen it grow from strength to strength, not only in terms of numbers of staff and research students but also in the facilities available,” he says. “A combination of these leads to a research environment where every member of staff is more than happy to get involved with any student’s research, in order to make use of and showcase their new equipment.”

Formulating research

David appreciates how studying a combination of subjects at Lancaster has enabled him to focus on and develop a level of expertise in his specific area of study. “Whilst my research interest in protein aggregation had previously seen me associated with the Biological departments,” he says, “a move to the Chemistry department at Lancaster allowed my project to take on new and exciting aspects.”

Whilst the Department is steadily progressing, David explains the benefits of working in a freshly established and globally ambitious environment. “Despite people’s apprehension at the department being un-accredited with RSC at the time, the commitment to establishing a new department that rivalled some of the best in the country was obvious and proved to be highly beneficial,” he says. “The current group of PhD students, despite small are very welcoming. Starting with only myself and one other, the numbers of post graduate students has risen each year, yet we have managed to keep the level of integration high and produced what I feel is a very friendly environment, something that you often lose in larger department where no one knows anyone else.”

Life in Lancaster

David has settled well since his time at the University and has optimised his spare time by visiting the local surroundings. “Lancaster is an ideal city to study in,” he says.”The historic city has a pleasant charm about itself, whilst managing to remain separate from the University campus. I feel this is crucial for separating work from social time, something the PhD researchers ensure we partake in as a group once a month with various events both on campus and in the city.

“Lancaster really does feel like home,” David concludes, “and being part of a Department like Chemistry here, it’s easy to see why.”

Olivia, a recent graduate in computational chemistry, was amongst one of the first groups of students to enrol on Lancaster's newly developed Chemistry PhD programme. She shares her experiences from what she describes as a "really comfortable and positive working atmosphere".