Hello! I’m James and I work in the Science Team at Lhasa.
As a Research Scientist on the Mirabilis project at Lhasa, I’m currently working as part of a team that is researching reactions that can purge mutagenic impurities from pharmaceutical syntheses.
The best thing about working on Mirabilis, is having to search for weird and wonderful reactions for data that can help to support our decision making! I have discovered so many obscure journals when trying to track down a reaction, and I’ve had to learn a few scientific phrases in other languages when articles are only in German or French!
An interesting reaction I’ve come across in the past is the Wadsworth-Emmons cyclopropanation reaction between a phosphonate ester and an epoxide – a reaction I would not have learned about otherwise!
The biggest challenge I face as a Mirabilis Scientist is locating suitable experimental data, as many published reactions lack information about side-products and by-products that are formed during the reaction.
For a brief insight into a typical working day of mine, keep reading below!
One of the perks of working at Lhasa is the flexible start time. I usually let my daughter be my alarm clock (she typically wakes before 7:30 am anyway). Most of my mornings involve getting myself and my daughter ready for the day with the aim of starting work at around 8am.
Start work. Firstly, I start by loading up all of the software that I use daily. I then get up-to-date with emails/messages (whilst finishing a strong coffee). Next, I manage my to-do list and try to plan my morning and afternoon work goals.
I am a research chemist in a project team, so my days are mostly filled with collecting, analysing, and reporting on the reactivity of certain chemicals. This involves searching and exporting data from reaction databases, formatting the data using a cheminformatics platform, generating informative plots, and writing scientific reports. As well as creating reports, peer-reviewing the work of my colleagues is also an important part of my role.
Alongside my main work, I also maintain the cheminformatics platform for the Mirabilis team (learning bits of Java as I go) and organise/chair the Science Team’s weekly meetings.
During COVID-19, our project team has been having a daily “break from isolation”, to discuss any work issues we have found or just to have a friendly catch-up with a coffee. These are really helpful for motivation and face-to-face problem solving, which can be more difficult by email alone.
Back to work. If I can help with any of issues that have come up in the team, I will try to get them done first.
Lunchtime! When working from home I will have lunch with my wife. This usually involves a sandwich and maybe a bit of TV (or video gaming with the Nintendo Switch club at Lhasa).
Back to work. At this time I will usually continue to analyse the reaction data that I exported in the morning. The Mirabilis team also use chemistry textbooks for scientific information (luckily I have the two main books at home) which can be really useful for referring to general chemistry and reaction mechanisms. With these resources, I can start writing a report incorporating chemistry knowledge and my reaction analysis.
Once a month the Science Team at Lhasa have an Organic Chemistry Club. This is a great opportunity for us to go through organic chemistry problems, helping us to maintain our scientific knowledge.
The Thursday Science Team meetings start now, which I organise and chair. This involves sending out meeting invites, creating and maintaining the presentation rota and running the virtual meeting (whilst keeping my fingers crossed that my internet stays alive).
End of the working day – I’ll usually try to finish off things that are close to completion or make a few notes about what I was working on/thinking about to help me when I start the next day.
Parenting begins again!
Dinner time (my wife is the cook, I do the washing up).
Bath, books and bed for my daughter.
19.00 – 20:00 pm
With my daughter asleep, it’s finally time to relax in front of the TV.
A spot of gaming with friends before bedtime.
23:00 – 00:00 pm