1 May 2019

Sheffield chemistry student named Science Undergraduate of the Year

Chemistry student Maddie Cullen is celebrating after being named Science Undergraduate of the Year.

Madeleine Cullen, centre, with Laura Yeates, Head of Graduate Talent at Clifford Chance, and awards host Rachel Riley.
Madeleine Cullen, centre, with Laura Yeates, Head of Graduate Talent at Clifford Chance, and awards host Rachel Riley.

Maddie, who is in her second year of her MChem Chemistry course at the University of Sheffield, was presented with the accolade by television personality Rachel Riley at the TARGETJobs awards ceremony, held in Canary Wharf, London.

Her prize is a place on category sponsor Clifford Chance’s SPARK scheme, which includes a trip to their office in Brussels and a possible training contract with the firm.


I was extremely pleased and very surprised. All of the other finalists were fantastic and I’m the first in my family to go to university, so being named Science Undergraduate of the Year just seems surreal.

Maddie Cullen

Science Undergraduate of the Year 2019 


"Clifford Chance is a law firm, but has a program well suited to STEM graduates with an emphasis on innovation, technology and problem-solving."

Maddie entered the competition after receiving an email about it from the Department of Chemistry. She had to complete online tests and attend two interviews as well as submit her CV.

Her latest success comes just a year after finishing runner up in the Innovation category of the Telegraph STEM Awards for her work designing a wearable device for mental health conditions.

Maddie has also been chair of the student welfare committee at the University of Sheffield and in her spare time helps to run an award-winning Christmas pudding company called Star on Top Pudding shop.

Maddie is on the Lloyds Scholars Scheme which offers students from lower-income households support whilst at University including a bursary, mentoring and the opportunity to undertake paid internships across the country. She has already completed internships in Bristol and London.


My involvement with the scheme has been a highlight of my time so far at university and I’ve met some great people.

Maddie Cullen

Science Undergraduate of the Year 2019 


"The two internships I've done have been extremely beneficial – not only because they’re well paid but a lot of care goes into matching you up with areas of the business you’re interested in and in developing your skills and networks."

Maddie has to manage a long term medical condition. She added: "I'd also like to share my experience as a disabled and first-generation university student with a wider audience to hopefully inspire more people to put themselves forward for things like this. The advice I'd give to chemistry students would be to not shy away from opportunities to use the problem-solving skills they have gained from their degree in new or unexpected ways."

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