Hi, my name is Lisa Humphreys, I’m a research fellow formulation chemist working at Cranfield University. As a formulator, my job is all about combining different ingredients together in order to create a sought-after product that has desirable characteristics. It’s often the case that using a single ingredient is not effective, it doesn’t give you the required outcome.

Now the particular formulations I work on are energetic materials and by that, I mean explosives and pyrotechnics. Pyrotechnics you might be a bit more familiar with, they certainly light up our night sky on the fifth of November and at New Year’s especially.

An example of pyrotechnics, also known as fireworks.

I love being able to combine ingredients together and actually witness how just one ingredient can completely transform the energetic profile of the formulation that I’m developing. It’s an invaluable experience to be able to observe all these things happening to achieve a better understanding of the individual roles of each of the ingredients that we’ve added.

A type of formulation combination – cupcakes!
The final output of the combination of ingredients above. Delicious!

If you’re interested in a STEM career, make sure to stick with the science subjects and the subjects STEM surrounds.

I would suggest that you take any opportunity you can to get involved in work experiences, be that virtual or physical, it doesn’t matter. Utilise the people around you to help guide you through potential careers that you could thrive in. Making decisions about on the career that’s right for you is always challenging regardless of age. We’re always trying to find a place that fits us in terms of who we are and what we want to contribute to the work place and by extension society. So definitely take those opportunities, as it’s a great chance to network and get to know people in the field that you might be interested in joining.

Why is it important you pursue these sorts of careers? Because we’re always going to need people in STEM. The world is constantly changing. We’ve done a lot of adapting this past year during the pandemic. It shows how robust and determined we are as individuals to still continue living our best lives whilst protecting the community and doing what’s best for the world globally.

So, careers where you’ve got people developing the vaccines, people who are putting together strategies for developing the infrastructure for the vaccine centres and the people who are helping build new establishments like the Nightingale hospital and things like that. We’ve had to do and react to the situation very quickly. All of the STEM subjects will inform all of those different tasks. And the critical work being done by our key workers, a majority of their job roles will have some sort of STEM focus.

As you can tell, I’m quite passionate about STEM subjects. I thoroughly enjoyed studying them. You can be of any age to get involved in STEM activities and make a difference. You don’t have to be an adult to help change the world.

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