School of Chemistry

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Thomas Eames

MChem, BSc Chemistry

Why did you choose to study Chemistry?
I remember the moment well! I was 13 years old, sat at the front of the one of Cambridge University’s many lecture theatres when Dr Peter Wothers told a captivated audience why water isn’t as boring as you might think. He showed us that something that seems so simple could have an incredibly rich and diverse nature and behave in ways nobody might expect. Well it’s been nearly 7 years and I still love to discover unexpected properties and behaviours of our world that is more diverse than you first might think! That’s Chemistry for me, a way to understand all that surrounds you in exquisite detail.

What attracted you to the University of Leeds?
My visit made up my mind for me. The staff were welcoming to nervous A Level students like myself, and answered any questions that arose. The tour from current students was the defining factor, chatting on an informal walk around the campus. They told me how much was on offer, the sport, the social life, the science and so much more. 

Has your course lived up to your expectations so far?
I didn’t really know what to expect in that sense but I am certainly not disappointed! I’m learning more than I ever thought I could learn and doing more than I thought I could do! Everyone involved in a chemistry degree is passionate about the work, which makes such a big difference. Realising what your lectures and tutors do when they are not teaching you was a big step for me. World leading research is going on all around you and that I never expected. 

What do you enjoy most about your course?
The best part of the course is not what you are supposed to learn in lectures or discover in labs, but the brief, passing conversations with members of staff. It might be one or two words they say and weeks of sketchy understanding finally fall into place. That is the best part of Chemistry at Leeds, being able to talk to the academics around you to ensure you really have a firm grasp of the work you are covering. 

Which aspect of Chemistry do you find the most interesting? 
My favourite part of chemistry at the moment is Quantum Mechanics. The fundamental intricacies of the natural world have lead to so many great discoveries, but it is the principles behind the applications that I find most fascinating. 

Can you explain a day in the life of a chemistry student?
We are all up early most days as quite often our lectures begin at 9am. Unlike other subjects, many of us spend all day in the chemistry building. When not in the laboratory or attending lectures and tutorials, we work in computer clusters and library’s to ensure all our set work is completed. For me, I am home at 5 every day except Wednesdays, when I have cycling club rides. There is a hearty workload but doing it together during the day makes it much more manageable.

How would you describe student life at Leeds?
Diverse. If you can imagine a sport, game, belief, art, interest or pastime, we probably have a society for that. The reason we have so many societies is all down to how varied the student population is. It’s great to know so many people doing such a variety of things! There is always something happening around the campus.

Have you joined any clubs and societies on campus? 
I am an active member of the cycling and running club and train with them between 3 and 6 days a week. The clubs regularly attend and host races around the country with great successes. As well as racing, there is a fantastic social scene. You don’t have to be a dedicated top-level athlete to enjoy a Sunday bike ride or weekly jog as they cater for everyone. 

Do you have an idea of what you might like to do at the end of your course?
I am determined to attain a PhD and eventually work as a lecture, like those that are teaching me now. The satisfaction of helping others to understand what I find so interesting, combined with researching new frontiers of science sounds like the perfect combination for me and I will do what it takes to get there.