Ever since he was in Year 5 at Bishopsgarth School, Danny has known that he wanted a career in chemistry.
After being inspired by his lessons with Mrs Wilson at the school, the 20-year-old went on to study science here at Bede Sixth Form and is now currently completing his third year of his university degree. Studying an integrated degree, Danny will finish the course with not just a Bachelor’s degree to his name, but a Master’s degree too.
As well as being able to achieve the two qualifications, the Roseworth local has also had the incredible opportunity to spend a year researching abroad during his studies, in the medicinal chemistry industry in sunny Valencia.
He said: “I chose my course, MChem Chemistry with Medicinal Chemistry because not only do you learn the standard chemistry degree as everyone else, but you also delve into the medicinal use of chemistry, including drug discovery, pharmacology, and bioactive molecules.”
Based at the Burjassot Campus of the University of Valencia, Danny is currently working for the research group IDM (Interuniversity Research Institute of Molecular Recognition and Technological Development). His day-to-day work centres around gathering data that could lead to the development of new drugs and sensors for different types of cancers, working with the development of novel compounds.
He said: “I spend every day in the laboratory, working at my own fume hood, completing synthesis to create the compounds and then running analysis assays, which allows me to track the progress of the experiment and see if it has been successful.”
Danny, who studied art and design, chemistry and biology, said that it was the amazing facilities at Bede Sixth Form that particularly stood out when he was choosing a college, as well as “the great chemistry labs and teaching staff”. He also said that the wide range of subjects offered at the College and the support of staff meant that he would have the best chance of getting into his first choice university: “Both Dr Robert Spink and Gemma Bates couldn’t have done more to help me achieve my grades. They believed in me and encouraged me to go further, they helped me get to where I am today.”
A lot of the content covered on our chemistry A level proved to be relevant to Danny’s current degree. “It provided the basic knowledge of chemistry needed to understand the subject at degree-level. We did a range of experiments and they are all relevant still now – they prepared me for my university-level work”, he said.
Reflecting on his time at Bede, Danny said that it was “two of the best years of my life. I met so many friends and gained such an understanding of the subjects I studied, I really believe it changed me as a person for the better. I just wish it had lasted a little bit longer!”
He also said that studying at Bede meant he felt like he could keep on developing his education, and once he has finished his degree, Danny is hoping to move onto the next step and undertake a PhD at Newcastle University: “I want to work in research again, specifically the sort regarding drug research and working towards cancer drug development.”
When asked if he’d do anything differently during his time at Bede, the aspiring chemist said he would have liked to revise a bit more and use his free study periods more productively. “These are set aside on purpose for self-set revision and work, and they come in so handy for it. It’s one of those things – everyone says that they wish they studied harder, but these periods allow for it, so I would’ve used them more.”
Danny’s advice to anyone who is just beginning their time at Bede is: “Don’t waste it.” Expressing how this time was so important to him and crucial in securing his place at university, he said: “These two years are your ‘passport’ to adult life. Without doing it right (not taking it seriously, not doing coursework or skipping classes), you can’t move forward. These two years of your life will give you the education you need to get into a job or a university that you will be proud of. So, don’t waste them, you only have one chance.”
Well done Danny – we look forward to seeing where your next steps take you.