(Dr Zoe Schnepp)
I am a Senior Lecturer in the School of Chemistry at the University of Birmingham. My research group works on making useful materials for applications in catalysis, fuel cells or batteries. We are particularly interested in sustainability and how we can use molecules from nature to make these materials.
I’ve wanted to be a scientist since I was young and I absolutely love my job. I studied chemistry with industrial experience at the University of Bristol and as part of that I had the chance to travel to the USA to work for Dupont for a year. I then stayed in Bristol to do my PhD before travelling to Berlin to work in a Max Planck Institute for 18 months. Berlin was an amazing place to live and work and my colleagues in the research institute came from 40 different countries.
After leaving Germany I went to live in Japan to work at the National Institute for Materials Science. I lived in a large apartment block for international scientists, which was great fun as we had a lot of BBQs as well as cultural events such as Japanese cooking classes and a traditional summer festival. Japan was an incredible experience. The science facilities are amazing and I learned so much. I also loved the wildlife out there! I’ve always been fascinated by the natural world and I really enjoyed living in a country where I could see snakes, monkeys, lizards and especially preying mantises on a regular basis!
I’ve been back in England for about 7 years now and will never regret the years I spent overseas and the friends I made. I was lucky as my husband is also a scientist and we were able to find jobs together. People often think that academic scientists can’t have families, but I’m finding that it’s offered me a lot of flexibility. I have two young children and when I had my first baby I went part time, working 4 days per week so I get an extra day with my girls.
Check out my interview on BBC World Service- about 20 min in – Talking about my research 2017
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