High-flying Lancaster Chemistry graduates from entrepreneurs to barristers have applauded the University’s decision to invest in a brand new Chemistry Department which opens its doors to students next year.

Under the leadership of newly- appointed Head of Department,Professor Peter Fielden, the new Chemistry Department will offer world-class teaching and brand new facilities on a course which has been specifically tailored for the changing demands of the modern world.

Since the return of Chemistry at Lancaster was announced  last year, a host of alumni have been in touch to share their career stories and memories of formative years in the department. They also took the time to offer words of support to the next generation of chemists following in their footsteps.

Dr Tony Whitfield

Dr Tony Whitfield, who graduated with a Chemistry honours degree from Lancaster in 1978 before going on to further study is now a consultant running his own business specialising in polymers.

He said: “I am thrilled that Chemistry is coming back to Lancaster in 2013. No matter what projects I have worked on in polymers, chemistry comes into play somewhere along the line and has proved to be a very powerful and useful qualification foundation for my entire career. A chemistry background will also provide many, many other different and attractive employment opportunities for students. In my employment experience to date I have found that there is a serious shortage of chemistry expertise available, so restarting the Chemistry Department up again at Lancaster will be great for the British economy and eventual recovery of UK manufacturing in the longer term.”

Stephen Wade

Stephen Wade, a Chemistry undergraduate at Lancaster 1974 to 1977, is now a barrister with a commercial law firm in the City of London.  

He said, although he had not chosen a career in chemistry, his first big break in his current profession came when he undertook a pupillage at a chambers specialising in Intellectual Property, where a science degree is considered essential and he trained alongside nuclear physicists, pharmacologists and natural science graduates.

“Analytic skills, attention to detail and exactitude are all important skills that science graduates bring to the workplace. The scientific method has many applications in a whole range of professions and is clearly good training for a career in law.  For lawyers specialising in Intellectual Property, patents, copyright, trade marks, designs and database rights etc, a science degree is considered essential. This highly specialised area is something any aspiring undergraduate should research thoroughly before choosing A levels.  There are many opportunities for science graduates outside the immediate field. The City is notoriously full of very clever maths and science graduates and many sections of society from the media to Parliament would benefit from the skills a chemistry graduate can offer.  I would not necessarily advise any new student to follow my career path; it has been eclectic, at times uncertain, but never dull. I have enjoyed the variety and certainly the material benefits which enable me now to fulfil my mother’s ambition one generation later by sending my children to the best public schools that I cannot quite afford. I had the best of times, the opportunities, the fun, the carefree days of youth (and the weather was better too; summer of 1976) and will be eternally grateful to Lancaster University for giving me the launch pad to face and manage the world outside academia. I now wish every success to the new department.”

Dr Brian Tempest

Dr Brian Tempest was awarded a PhD in Chemistry from Lancaster University in 1971. He now advises companies, banks, investment funds, private equity & high net worth individuals on their strategy in Asia based on his wide experience in China, Japan, South East Asia and India where he has lived for the last decade.

He has worked in the pharmaceutical industry for the last 42 years and has managed healthcare businesses around the globe. Dr Tempest, who is now also Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Lancaster University Management School, said his PhD had taken him into the pharmaceutical industry where he rose to be CEO of one of the world’s top ten generic pharmaceutical companies.  He said : “I was definitely very pleased to see Chemistry coming back to Lancaster. How can you have a world class Physics Department with no Chemistry Department alongside it? My advice to the next generation of prospective students would simply be to work hard.”


Where did your Lancaster chemistry degree take you? We’d love to hear from you. We are also organising a reunion for Chemistry Graduates on Friday 18th October 2013. If you would like to join us, please register online