Best blogs of 2014: What made you become a chemical engineer? (Day 218)

PotteryHello everyone. During the seasonal holidays, I am re-posting some of the most popular blogs from the past six months.

Here’s one of my early blogs that talked about how my own career was shaped by my childhood. It would be great to hear some of your stories about how you became interested in this great profession of ours.


I was born in Stoke-on-Trent in the 1940s where my father worked for Podmore and Sons, which made and processed raw materials like clays and glazes for the pottery industry.

My father’s connection to Podmore and Sons opened a door to some summer vacation work and it became my first exposure to both industrial chemistry and engineering. The rest is history.

Today, many people are undoubtedly attracted by the excellent pay, travel and simple job satisfaction from working in some of the fascinating and important industries which form the building blocks of the modern world.

Continue reading Best blogs of 2014: What made you become a chemical engineer? (Day 218)

Best blogs of 2014: What the public really think about chemical engineers… (Day 217)

Crowd of peopleHello everyone. During the seasonal holidays, I am re-posting some of the most popular blogs from the past six months.

One of the topics that fascinates me is what people think of our profession and what we can do to create the best possible image for science.

Today’s blog looks at public attitudes to science and even manages to include a reference to One Direction – thanks for reading!


I recently came across the Ipsos MORI 2014 Public Attitudes to Science study which focuses on public perceptions in the UK to science and engineering.

The survey did not test scientific knowledge but instead examined the social connections between people and science. This approach is useful as it offers an insight into how a person will respond to a specific issue, for example fracking.

Continue reading Best blogs of 2014: What the public really think about chemical engineers… (Day 217)

Best blogs of 2014: Ten skills chemical engineers should be talking about (Day 216)

SkillsHello everyone. During the seasonal holidays, I am re-posting some of the most popular blogs from the past six months.

For such a demanding profession our skill-sets are diverse and require continuous professional development. In today’s blog – originally posted in September 2014 – I talk about some of the skills we use regularly, but are less well-known.


Within our profession, it is easy to find lists of the skills chemical engineers ‘should’ have: we are solution focused; we are good with numbers; we are practical.

However, none of these skills sound very exciting.

Interestingly, it is the ‘skills’ which we aren’t so good at and stereotypical engineering ‘memes’ which, arguably, we are more famous for.

I think we need to set the record straight and create an image of our skills which better reflects what we do in the twenty-first century.

Even our employers have a role – they are the ones with the power to present a picture of the modern engineer through their job specifications and approach to recruitment advertising.

So, here it is – a list of ten skills and values I know chemical engineers (and other scientists and engineers) have that we should be shouting about.

Continue reading Best blogs of 2014: Ten skills chemical engineers should be talking about (Day 216)

Best blogs of 2014: Ten reasons to become a chemical engineer (Day 215)

NumbersHello everyone. During the seasonal holidays, I am re-posting some of the most popular blogs from the past six months.

In June 2014, I suggested ten reasons why you should consider becoming a chemical engineer.

In fact there are many more reasons, but I hope you find the ten that made our list helpful, especially if you are at school or in the early stages of your career.


The media (and generally readers) love lists of things. Easily digestible and readable, they are a great way to start debate and communicate in a few words. A quick Google will show you just how many top ten lists there.

Anyway, throughout my presidency I thought I’d use this handy technique in my blogs to get your views and comments – beginning with ten reasons to become a chemical engineer. In no particular order, my top ten are:

Continue reading Best blogs of 2014: Ten reasons to become a chemical engineer (Day 215)

Best blogs of 2014: Ten future careers of chemical engineers (Day 214)

Looking to the futureHello everyone. During the seasonal holidays, I am re-posting some of the most popular blogs from the past six months.

Today’s blog has been the most popular yet and has been read nearly 8,000 times.

It’s a bit of futurism and if you’re still around in 50 years – and blogging still exists –  it might be useful to look ‘back to the future’ and see just how close I was. Thanks for reading.


Hello and welcome to Day 100 of my presidency.

Normally, ‘presidents’ cast their eye over their achievements for this mini milestone. But to break the tradition, I am going to look forward to speculate how careers in chemical engineering might evolve.

I find that newspapers often produce articles hypothesising about what possible careers we will be performing in the future. The majority of the time these future careers all involve an aspect of chemical engineering.

I know from working as a chemical engineer that we can be hard to identify as we are rarely called ‘chemical engineers’. We can be process engineers, safety engineers, bioproduct engineers, design engineers, environmental engineers… and some of us aren’t even called engineers!

Reading through the online literature I came across a variety of future professions and roles, some more fanciful than others, that I think will be well suited to the skills of tomorrow’s chemical engineers and some that are already being done by today’s chemical engineers.

Here are ten (possible!) future careers of chemical engineers:

Continue reading Best blogs of 2014: Ten future careers of chemical engineers (Day 214)

Best blogs of 2014: Ten job titles of chemical engineers… and what they actually mean (Day 213)

Great jobHappy ‘Boxing Day’ to you all! 

During the seasonal holidays, I am re-posting some of the most popular blogs from the past six months.

In October, I highlighted how invisible our profession can be. 

I guesstimate that there might be at least half a million chemical engineers dotted around the planet, yet we are hardly household names. Hopefully, today’s blog explains some of the reasons why.


Chemical engineers can be hard to identify, not just because most people aren’t clear about what chemical engineering actually is, but because chemical engineers rarely can be identified by the job title – chemical engineer!

To help dispel this confusion I have compiled a list of ten job titles that chemical engineers typically fill:

Continue reading Best blogs of 2014: Ten job titles of chemical engineers… and what they actually mean (Day 213)

Season’s greetings (Day 212)

SantaHello everyone, if you’re lucky enough to be on holiday today enjoying the seasonal holidays, I hope you’ll spare a thought for those workers in the chemical and process industry working hard to provide the energy, food, water and medicines (especially those indigestion tablets!) we all need to make Christmas a special time of year.

It’s now tradition that IChemE makes a donation to charity rather than send Christmas cards.

This year we are supporting the Chingari Trust, a non-profit, non-political organisation that works with the victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy and local communities, and the Disasters Emergency Committee Ebola Crisis Appeal.

If you’ve not seen it already on IChemE’s YouTube channel, I’ve also recorded a Christmas message.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Can chemical engineers help Santa? (Day 211)

Oh dear, it’s the year 2050 and Santa Claus can no longer cope with delivering presents to nine billion people.

And there’s worse – over prescribing of animal antibiotics means reindeer are no longer immune to the growing menace of ‘reindeer-itis’¹ – causing them to lose their magical power to fly around the world.

Sad reindeer
Let’s hope chemical engineers can help Santa and save Christmas.

Santa needs an alternative energy supply urgently. Is there anyone who can save Christmas with an efficient, powerful, low carbon and renewable source of energy to power Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve?

Continue reading Can chemical engineers help Santa? (Day 211)

A precious catalyst (Day 210)

GoldMany people won’t look beyond jewelry and coinage for the most important usage of precious metals, but chemical engineers know that precious metals like gold, silver, platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium and osmium have many more valuable uses.

Solar and other fuel cells, batteries, electronics, drugs, after shaves, bandages and even traditional photography have some reliance on precious metals.

Of particular interest to chemical engineers are their uses as chemical catalysts. But, being precious, chemical reactions that require large volumes of the metals are naturally going to be expensive and unsustainable.

One of the solutions is to use computational modeling below the nanoscale level to design more efficient and affordable catalysts from gold. And a transatlantic alliance of three universities have collaborated to achieve just that.

Continue reading A precious catalyst (Day 210)

The twelve (chemical engineering) products of Christmas (Day 209)

Seasonal lightsI have talked in my past blogs about the lack of recognition about what chemical engineering is and why it matters.

When explaining chemical engineering to people I often say look around you, everything you can see or touch wouldn’t be here without chemical engineering.

Christmas offers an excellent opportunity to showcase twelve products that you might miss the chemical engineering in, if you don’t know where to look:

Continue reading The twelve (chemical engineering) products of Christmas (Day 209)

The true meaning of our science (Day 208)

SpeakerI am always in favour of evidence-driven policy making. Who wouldn’t want their country’s decisions made on facts?

However, I often worry if the public, politicians and policy makers really understand or, at least, are accurately interpreting the science behind the evidence.

In the UK, we have seen the recent launch of a report from the ‘What Works Centres’, designed to make the best evidence of what works available to our decision makers.

With top findings from the UK so far including:

  • The use of peer tutoring in schools, where young people work together in small groups, has a high positive impact on achievement
  • Putting more policemen on the beat does not necessarily reduce crime, unless officers are carefully targeted
  • More lives could be saved or improved if people with acute heart failure were routinely treated by specialist heart failure teams

As engineers and researchers, it is our job to ensure that we send a clear message of what our work means, why it matters, where it is applicable and how and when it should be used.

I recently came across a Nature article discussing ‘Twenty tips for interpreting scientific claims’ which made me evaluate the message I am sending to decision makers.

From this I have put together a list of just ten things I think we need to tell people know to ensure they understand and correctly interpret the science behind our chemical engineering message:

Continue reading The true meaning of our science (Day 208)

Healthcare goes 3D (Day 207)

Mesoporous silica rods
Mesoporous silica rods spontaneously assemble to form a porous 3D scaffold, as seen in this SEM image. The 3D scaffold has many nooks and crannies and is large enough to house tens of millions of recruited immune cells. Image: Harvard

Some diseases like cancer carry more than one jeopardy.

Untreated it causes harm and threatens life. Treatment too carries its own risks.

And if you’re unlucky enough to contract cancers such as lymphomas and leukaemias, even the body’s own natural defences become less effective.

Ways to stimulate the body’s immune system has been the focus of researchers at Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University.

And they’ve had success with a non-surgical injection of programmable biomaterial that spontaneously assembles in vivo to activate a host’s immune cells into a 3D structure which can help fight and even contribute to the prevention of cancer and infectious diseases such as HIV.

Continue reading Healthcare goes 3D (Day 207)

A journey from process engineer to IChemE’s technical vice president (Day 206)

For over 200 days now, I have been slowly fulfilling my presidential mission of sharing chemical engineering good news every day. And over time, I have noticed a pattern amongst my readership; chemical engineers are interested in the journey of where chemical engineering can take you.

By now, you must all know my personal journey inside out; starting in academia, then twenty years in the oilfield services industry working for Schlumberger until I came full circle back into academia in 2005 as professor of energy engineering at Imperial College London, UK.

For today’s blog post, I will let a previous IChemE technical vice president, Ed Daniels, walk you through his journey; a chemical engineer who rose through the ranks to a senior leadership role within a major oil company. Perhaps shining the spotlight on an individual will help shine a light on the profession in some small way…


Ed Daniels (2)Name: Ed Daniels
Job: Executive Vice President, Commercial and New Business Development
Course: Chemical engineering, Imperial College London
Graduated: 1988
Employer: Royal Dutch Shell

Quote startBack when I started my degree at university, I knew, even back then that chemical engineering was, and would remain to be, a sound foundation of engineering education. Not only is it practical and logical, but it would also prove to serve me well in a career context. Continue reading A journey from process engineer to IChemE’s technical vice president (Day 206)

Processing pollution into profit (Day 205)

Expensive carThose of you who read my blog regularly will know that I have spent my career focusing on carbon capture and storage and I am always on the lookout for new ways to deal with climate change.

For a new method of carbon capture to be a success it has to be sustainable and economically viable, but if it can make a profit, it is even better!

When I came across this story of a company, Liquid Light, made up of chemical engineers, chemists, environmental engineers, physicists and mechanical engineers using carbon dioxide to make plastic bottles, face cream and wood glue, it made me think that this could be a real solution to our problem.

Continue reading Processing pollution into profit (Day 205)

In the spotlight (Day 204)

As we approach the year end, lots of chemical engineers around the world are picking up their accolades for a year of hard work.

I’ve selected two stories for today’s blog from Malaysia and New Zealand – countries with very active and enthusiastic IChemE members.

Curtin University - design award
Curtin Sarawak chemical engineering students awarded at Design Project Award ceremony. Image courtesy of Curtin University

On 2 December in Miri, Malaysia, ten projects were showcased by final-year chemical engineering students of Curtin University, Sarawak Malaysia at their annual Design Project Award presentation ceremony.

Congratulations to Team ‘Innovazione’ who claimed the Best Design Project Award for its project: ‘Design of an offshore prelude floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG)’.

Continue reading In the spotlight (Day 204)

Kick it, catch it, chemical engineer it (Day 203)

You may have noticed that there’s a lot of sport on TV. It’s big business and it underpins the marketing and commercial strategies of many broadcasters.

All of this money supports a growing and more sophisticated sporting industry with huge budgets and backroom teams.

In Formula 1, the Mercedes team employs… 700 staff to put just two cars on track at around 20 races each year. The McLaren Group, which includes McLaren Racing (the F1 team) employs 1,500 people and has revenues of nearly £300m (US$468).

In football, the England football team took more backroom staff than players to the Brazil 2014 World Cup including managers, technical coaches, fitness coaches, doctors, nutritionists, physiotherapist, sport scientists, chefs, video analysts, kit cleaners,  performance analysis, and more.

Even a tennis player like Andy Murray is supported by his fiancée, friends, coaches, fitness trainers (2), a ‘hitting’ partner, physio and management team (Simon Fuller’s XIX Entertainment).

So what about the chemical engineers – where are they in this entourage of specialists?

American football
Photo credit – Aspen Photo –

Continue reading Kick it, catch it, chemical engineer it (Day 203)

Chemical engineers and the media (Day 202)

(L-R): Yasmin Ali; Geoff Maitland; Andy Furlong; and Dr. Tarit Mukhopadhyay
(L-R): Yasmin Ali; Geoff Maitland; IChemE’s director of policy, Andy Furlong; and Dr. Tarit Mukhopadhyay at the Chemical Engineers and the Media event

Earlier this month, the IChemE London and South East member group hosted an event called, ‘Chemical Engineers and the Media‘, and I was fortunate enough to have been asked to sit on the panel to share my thoughts and experiences on the topic.

After the explosion of the Macondo well in April 2010, otherwise known as the Deepwater Horizon disaster, I was thrust into the media spotlight and  ‘Into the lion’s den‘ as it were. So it was only natural that I retold my story at this event in more detail.

It was identified that there was a real need for a technical expert to provide an objective commentary and help explain what was happening after the disaster. I was given only ten minutes to decide whether or not I would be that person. And as you can probably guess, I said yes. Continue reading Chemical engineers and the media (Day 202)

Chemical engineering meets geology (Day 201)

StalagmitesA dark, damp, eerie cave with dripping water and furtive noises echoing through an underground chamber may seem an unusual source of inspiration for a bit of chemical engineering, but today’s blog illustrates that ideas can come from anywhere.

I’m sure you’re familiar with stalagmites and stalactites – those spiky, rocky formations that grow up from the ground and drop down from the roof of caves.

Geologists have known for a while how these form and have established mathematical models for their formation.

Interestingly, stalagmite formation is an issue in nuclear processing plants industry and researchers have used some of the knowledge from geologists to create a versatile model to predict how these stalagmite-like structures form.

The main point of the research is to is to reduce the number of potentially harmful manual inspections of nuclear waste containers.

Continue reading Chemical engineering meets geology (Day 201)

Fuel alchemy (Day 200)

Burning glassesToday, we have reached the magical milestone of my 200th day as IChemE president and to mark the occasion we have a magical story from Germany.

It’s a modern-day story, but it draws on technologies, in part, developed in the 1920’s by Franz Fischer and Hans Tropsch.

A German company called Sunfire have recently demonstrated a process they call Power-to-Liquids (PtL). It’s a three-stage process that uses renewable electricity to convert water and CO2 to high-purity alternative energy fuels such as petrol, diesel and kerosene.

Power-to-Liquids process (PtL)
Power-to-Liquids process (PtL) uses renewable electricity, CO2 and water to produce synthetic, alternative, environmentally-friendly fuels such as petrol, diesel and kerosene. Image credit: Sunfire.

Continue reading Fuel alchemy (Day 200)

Ten common misconceptions about chemical engineers debunked (Day 199)

PerceptionWhen I started this blog my main aim was to showcase how chemical engineering is making a real difference across the world.

And I have been amazed at all the incredible tales of chemical engineering I have heard from so many different countries.

Building a detailed picture of chemical engineering is great, but one thing that concerns me are the common misconceptions about chemical engineers and chemical engineering I still hear.

To help dispel some of these I have put together a list of common misconceptions about chemical engineers that just aren’t true:

Continue reading Ten common misconceptions about chemical engineers debunked (Day 199)

Even chemical engineers can pamper (Day 198)

EyesIn some countries, chemical engineers don’t receive the respect they deserve.

Our contribution is hidden from the public as companies don’t want people to think about the ‘chemicals’ in their products.

I discussed the perception that anything natural is good and anything man-made is bad in my blog ‘Can you lead a chemical-free life?’, which demonstrates that this is not the case.

The US gets a lot of bad press about the public perceptions of science and engineering, but one thing they are getting right is the respect that seems to be increasing for chemical engineers working in the cosmetics industry.

An excellent example of this is the company Living Proof, set up by a team of researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), including chemical engineering Professor Robert Langer, which initially focused on hair products.

The company has such a strong technological reputation that actress Jennifer Aniston (who I am told is famous for her hair?!) was not only was willing to advertise their products but also invested in the company as a co-owner.

Photo Credit | Living Proof Dr Betty Yu
Photo Credit | Living Proof
Dr Betty Yu

Living Proof is now launching its first skin product – Neotensil – spearhead by another MIT chemical engineering alumnus Dr Betty Yu.

Neotensil uses polymer technology to compress and flatten eye bags.

Continue reading Even chemical engineers can pamper (Day 198)

Making fruit red by going green (Day 197)

Ripening tomatoesInternational demand for fruit and vegetables is growing. We all want affordable fresh food available all-year-round, everywhere.

To ensure that your food arrives to you unspoiled and ready to eat food suppliers pick unripe fruit, transport it and then trigger the ripening process using ethylene.

The ethylene used to do this comes from the steam cracking of fossil fuels. With government aims to reduce the use of fossil fuels, fruit ripening needs to go green too!

Researchers, including engineers, biologists and physicists, from the University of Trento in Italy have developed an Escherichia coli strain which can produce ethylene to help ripen our fruit, removing the need for fossil fuels.

Continue reading Making fruit red by going green (Day 197)

Driven by sawdust (Day 196)

Image from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven - sawdust
Image courtesy of Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.

Back in 2006, a campaign was launched to plant one billion trees every year. In the first five years alone, over 12 billion were planted, and the campaign rolls on today.

The Billion Tree campaign is now managed by the United Nations Environment Agency and efforts like these have had an important role to offset the billions of trees cut down every year.

Of course, all this wood processing creates sawdust and there’s a long list of uses for this by-product including fuel briquettes, animal bedding, mushroom growing, soil amelioration, ‘smoking’ food, building products and more.

One of the latest development involves researchers at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven) in Belgium, the Leibniz-Institute for Solid State and Materials Research in Dresden, Germany, and the chemical engineering department at the California Institute of Technology in USA.

They have managed to convert sawdust into building blocks for gasoline.

Continue reading Driven by sawdust (Day 196)

The lotus effect (Day 195)

It’s always good to hear of research receiving a funding boost and in this case the well-deserved recipient is the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany, who are about to benefit from €2.85 million (£2.25 million).

The money will go towards the further development of ‘Fluoropore’ – a new class of highly fluorinated super-repellent polymers which makes both water and oil droplets roll off.

Most coatings by design are invisible, yet offer benefits that are very evident. Keeping shoes dry, protecting ships from ice build-up, the free flow of blood via medical devices, even simply frying an onion are made easier with the right coating.

It’s amazing to think that DuPont’s Teflon® coating has been around since 1938 and is still used widely in products such as in paints, fabrics, carpets, home furnishings, clothing and more.

Fluoropore appears to be equally flexible and universal with potential applications including keeping cars clean, preventing graffiti and keeping mud off clothing and footwear.

The novel material “fluoropore” repels water (left) and oil (right). These droplets do not adhere to or wet the surface. (Photo: KIT/Rapp)
The novel material “fluoropore” repels water (left) and oil (right). These droplets do not adhere to or wet the surface. (Photo: KIT/Rapp)

Continue reading The lotus effect (Day 195)

Can individuals still make a difference? (Day 194)

You’ll find lots of social commentary around the world about whether people have become more desensitized and less caring than the past.

In the UK, there was a social experiment, earlier this year, involving two children left on their own for 60 minutes in a busy shopping centre. According to reports, just one person stopped – over 600 were filmed walking by.

Hear, see, say nothingThe issue of personal responsibility is important – how we interact, when we intervene and the choices we make. Sadly, for some of the big issues in the world I believe there is a tendency to leave the problem to someone else.

Climate change is one example. The drift in recent years has been away from the role of individuals to rely solely on organisations and governments for answers.

Continue reading Can individuals still make a difference? (Day 194)

Put a label on it to reduce food waste (Day 193)

Freezer aisle in supermarketOften when we think about reducing food waste we focus on being more efficient and doing less with more.

But sometimes I think we forget that the packaging our food comes in has been specially designed to ensure that our food lasts as long as possible – once you take food out of the pack it drastically reduces its shelf-life.

Over 100 million tonnes of food are wasted annually in the European Union. And if nothing is done this is expected to rise to 126 million tonnes by 2020.

The wasting of food is not only an economic and ethical issue but it also depletes our natural resources. There are 805 million undernourished people in the world today, anything we can do to stop food being wasted will help reduce this inequality.

In January this year saw the conclusion of the IQ-FRESHLABEL research project set up to develop intelligent labels to help reduce our food waste.

Continue reading Put a label on it to reduce food waste (Day 193)

Designing future medicines – the work of the chemical engineer (Day 192)

Pills packI, like the rest of the world, have been saddened by the devastation caused by the most recent Ebola outbreak in Africa and its wide-reaching consequences.

Unfortunately, there have been many ‘finger-waving’ stories questioning how it can have taken so long for the major pharmaceutical companies to produce a viable treatment or vaccine for the disease.

Sadly, ‘finger-waving’ isn’t the answer when the solutions are complicated and highly regulated.

Sometimes, the media report on the latest breakthroughs. For example, Time recently reported ‘Scientists Develop Drug to Replace Antibiotics’.

This implies that these drugs are available and ready to go, however this distracts us from the fact the article also states ‘researchers hope to create a pill or an injectable version of it in the next five years’.

Anyone who has worked in research will understand how long it actually takes to move these breakthroughs to the next stage and to truly develop them.

IChemE technical vice-president, Jon-Paul Sherlock, has worked in the pharmaceuticals industry for over 15 years and has offered me a brief insight into what the industry is really like for chemical engineers.

Continue reading Designing future medicines – the work of the chemical engineer (Day 192)

Blood control (Day 191)

BloodPlease forgive me if any of you suffer from the fear of blood, or haemophobia, but today’s blog is all about a gel that can stop bleeding and seal serious wounds in just 15 seconds.

Here’s the science – immediately on application the gel stimulates the clotting process by physically holding pressure in the damaged blood vessel.

The gel then rapidly activates the accumulation of platelets, which bind to the site of the injury to create a platelet mesh.

Finally, the gel completes haemostasis by accelerating the binding of the clotting protein, fibrin, to the platelet mesh, resulting in blood coagulation and a stable clot.

The whole process works by initiating and amplifying the body’s natural clotting mechanism, even for severe wounds, within seconds.

Continue reading Blood control (Day 191)

Starting a chemical engineering career in academia (Day 190)

Research is an important part of chemical engineering, and chemical engineers going on to further study and completing a PhD make up part of that picture. The importance of chemical engineering research in being at the forefront of tackling many of the world’s tough challenges is also emphasised in IChemE’s technical strategy, Chemical Engineering Matters.

Graduate destinations data from Higher Educations Statistics Agency
Graduate destinations data from Higher Educations Statistics Agency

In the UK, it is encouraging to see that more graduates are going on to further study within chemical engineering (see graph) than the other engineering disciplines.

So, what is is like to go into further study and start a career in academia nowadays?

I can certainly tell you what it was like back in the 1970s when I started, but I think that it’s probably for the best that I hand the reigns over to a chemical engineer completing their PhD in the present day for today’s guest blog.

Continue reading Starting a chemical engineering career in academia (Day 190)

It’s all about people and skills (Day 189)

As our population grows and the challenges facing humanity, and the planet, become more acute, who will be able to provide the answers?

Will it be politicians, accountants, teachers, lawyers, doctors, engineers or other professions we rely upon to make the world function efficiently?

The quick answer is that all professions will have a role, but, in my opinion, the solutions and catalysts for change will come from the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) community. I believe this will be the case whichever country you live in.

University students
A fifth of the UK workforce is likely to be employed in the science, technology, engineering and maths community by 2030.

So what are the challenges – even before we get to issues like global health, ageing populations, food and water security, achieving low carbon economies, and much more?

Continue reading It’s all about people and skills (Day 189)

The drugs of tomorrow (Day 188)

Old pharmacyIf being able to remember the ‘unusual’ names of medicines is an indicator of their impact on society, then drugs like penicillin, insulin, ether, aspirin and morphine achieve top marks.

But these medicines are mature and relatively old in drug-years. So what about the next generation and where are the innovations likely to come from?

According to professor Nigel Titchener-Hooker, the next decade will see biologically derived therapies – or ‘biologics’ – dominate the treatment landscape.

In 2013, eight of the top ten selling drugs worldwide were biologics products manufactured in a living system such as a microorganism, plant or animal cell.

Most biologics – including the top sellers, Humira, Enbrel and Remicade – are very large, complex molecules produced using recombinant DNA technology.

Continue reading The drugs of tomorrow (Day 188)