Rebecca Farnell

Research Scientist at Ciba UK plc, Rebecca Farnell, studied her BTEC National course in Chemistry at Bradford & Ilkley Community College from 1998 to 2000.

Rebecca FarnellBecky started work for Ciba in 1998 as a laboratory assistant, working predominantly within research and development of acrylic chemistry intermediates. She attended College on a part-time basis for 2 years to complete her BTEC National course in Chemistry.

“I have many fond memories of my time at Bradford College and in particular enjoyed studying with people from different backgrounds of all different ages – a complete change from my school environment - not to mention the trips to the pub for dinner! Sue Clark, the course leader, was a great support and understood the pressures of studying part-time. However, course tutor, Alec Denton, was the star of the show; his lectures and practical sessions had to be experienced to be believed. What an enjoyable way to learn!”

Becky then continued her studies at the University of Huddersfield, graduating with 1st Class Honours in her BSc (Hons) Chemistry with Chemical Engineering degree in May 2005. She received numerous awards from industry and academia recognising her achievements including the Ciba Student of the Year Award in 2004 and the Royal Society of Chemistry (local section) prize for outstanding achievement in 2005.

During this period Becky changed roles to focus on bioproduction/ biochemical research and was promoted to Research Scientist, investigating alternative routes to key acrylic intermediates utilising biocatalysis and / or replenishable raw materials.

In September 2005 Becky became involved with the Chemical Industries Association (CIA) Future Forum and in July 2006, after nomination by Ciba, she was named as the CIA Young Ambassador 2006/7. This entailed her chairing the Future Forum, organising events promoting science and the chemical industry to the wider community including interacting with school children of all ages. She also visited parliament to meet the Minister for Science & Innovation and lobbied the government on issues of skills and training in the chemical industry.

As part of her prize Rebecca enjoyed a 2 week educational visit to China in August 2007. “I met with other young scientists in Shanghai and Beijing and spoke to them about their culture and way of life. Visiting new development sites I was shocked at the sheer scale of manufacture. While there are worries about competition with China in manufacturing, the UK and Europe are ahead of the rest of the world in terms of science innovation and people development. As a culture we are very innovative but we need to give young people the right training.”

Photograph by Trevor Griffiths