I thought I would do some posts about the different kinds of careers people have within the field of science to show the wide variety of ways that science is used in people’s everyday lives. In this first post (of hopefully many) I interviewed my little sister Rachel who is an apprentice Research Scientist at Unilever.
Unilever is famous for a number of everyday items that you will definitely have at home, and few of the favorites are Ben and Jerrys, Dove, PG Tips, Persil, and Flora (along with many others). They sell their products in 190 different countries, and invest around €1 Billion into research and development of these products. Science is a massive part of the company, from making sure that the health care products do what they actually say they are doing, to making sure that the ice cream tastes right and the deodorant doesn’t smell bad. This research and development is used to make bigger, better and faster innovations to their products.
1) What is your job role and where do you work?
I work as an apprentice for Unilever at Colworth. My job title is research scientist, and I work in the Discover department, which is the department for innovation and new technology science.
2) What do you do as day to day tasks?
I work in the ice cream division. I produce lab-scale and pilot-plant scale ice creams and chocolate. I then carry out various scientific tests on the produce to determine characteristics. E.g. I measure the chocolate's viscosity using rheology equipment to understand how well the chocolate would cling onto an ice-cream if it was dipped in a factory. I also run GC-MS machines, particle size analysers, texture analysers.
3) How is science used in your job?
It is used in every aspect of the job, from planning the experiments, understanding what to measure, understanding the raw data collected, understanding why results are what they are, to thinking of applications and the reality of the science. I use biology, chemistry, physics, maths, computing, and food technology on a day to day basis.
4) What impact does your job have on people's everyday lives?
The science developed in discover, if useful and innovative, goes onto the design team which then passes onto the deploy team and is then on the market. The science I carry out now shapes the products of tomorrow.
5) How would you encourage more people to get into science?
Getting the message out there that science is a part of everything you do. Get people to see the vast number of opportunities science has to give. Get people to see how fun and exciting science can be, especially if you're in a role like mine and you are experimenting with things that no one else has ever done before.
6) Why did you get into science?
I enjoyed the subject in school. My family are all passionate about the subject. I think very scientifically and so it suited my personality and learning abilities.
7) What did you have to do to get your job?
I had to have basic GCSE's in English, Science and Maths. I had to have 3 A-levels (2 of which needed to be science related) for grades around BBB/BBC/BCC. I had to fill out an online application form, pass a telephone interview and pass an assessment day.
8) What's the best thing about your job?
The fact that I am working alongside world-class scientists who have so much detailed knowledge about a whole spectrum of scientific topics. Everyone is so eager to share their knowledge to help you understand and grow as a scientist.
I hope you can see from this interview that science development is a really important part of a huge range of products that people use every day. Rachel went from school straight into this job showing everyone that it really is easy to get into science; you don’t have to have a PhD to work in a science level job.
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Even though she sounds really serious in this interview, she is just a normal ‘young adult’ and here is one of my fav pictures of us together :P (sorry rachy).
I would just like to say a massive thank you to Rachel for doing this interview, and to say that any views expressed in this interview are not representative of Unilever or any other affiliated company.