SBZ continue to be excited about the commitment and knowledge Alistair brings to the team, helping us grow as a company within the industry.
When did you complete the PhD?
I submitted my PhD thesis back in May 2019 and completed the viva in November 2019. My thesis was accepted in December 2019 before I was awarded my PhD in March 2020. I received my certificate last June; however, due to Covid, the ceremony took place on the 22nd of July 2021 at Loughborough University.
What did you study, and how long did it take?
The title of my thesis was “Long Term Storage Stability Studies of Vinyl Ester Resins Using Commercial Antioxidants”, where I was studying the effects of different antioxidants and concentrations at different temperatures on amine (meth)acrylates, epoxy (meth)acrylates and urethane (meth)acrylates, then using the data to construct a model to predict how a resin would perform during storage with a given amount of antioxidant. It took me five years of part-time work across three different employers and locations. Then another two years to write it all up due to business travelling. I did my studies at Loughborough University, although since I was part-time, all of the lab work was completed at work, with the support of my previous employers.
What sacrifices did you take to complete it?
It has meant a few years of working weekends and many a long late-night, on top of work commitments, not to mention the numerous papers, books, and patents that I have read. I was hoping that come 2020, I would be able to kick back a little and enjoy some free time, getting back into my hobbies of walking, photography, and winemaking with a bit of travelling. Still, Covid struck and turned the world upside down, and for the chemical industry, the world went manic. I had hoped to travel to New Zealand and combine photography with visiting some vineyards; maybe that will happen in 2022 instead. In the short term, there are a couple of interesting exhibitions at the British Museum that I want to visit now that restrictions have eased up.
What are you planning to do with the qualification?
The Doctorate is one item checked off my list of things to do; at SBZ, I have the opportunity to take what I have found and put it into practice. I have a wide range of chemical interests, and I will always keep on probing away and questioning why things happen the way they do. These are interesting times, and the world is changing in ways that we could never have imagined, so I think it is time to take the bull by the horns and see where it leads us. I have a couple of ideas of what to do next, but nothing that involves writing a thesis, well, not yet.
“At SBZ, I have the opportunity to take what I have found into practice. I have a wide range of chemical interests, and I will always keep on probing away and questioning why things happen the way that they do.”
Would you encourage others to pursue sciences as their chosen subject?
I have always enjoyed science and engineering in general as it allows you to remain curious and question things. Chemistry has always been fun, and it will enable me to produce materials that are useful. I know that chemistry seems scary and forbidding to many people, but those of us who cook are doing chemistry. The changes we make to a recipe to produce a new meal is the same mindset applied to develop and produce a new innovative product for work.