Pursuing a career in artificial intelligence research

Jasmine Catlow
Jasmine Catlow
PhD student, University of Sheffield
Chemistry MChem
Working on a summer research project with the university between her second and third years introduced Jasmine to a research environment, and her masters project helped her to develop the skills she needed to carry out PhD project of her own.

"My favourite part of my undergraduate degree was the Skills for Success third year project – I got to work alongside the department’s X-ray crystallography technician, analysing crystal samples and working out their structures. I spent double the time in the lab than was actually needed for the project assessment, just because I found it so interesting.

"During my second year, I got the opportunity to visit Nanjing Tech University in China, with whom we had a joint degree course. I spent a week there, visiting several universities and sightseeing in Nanjing, Shanghai and Suzhou. Then, in my final year I got the opportunity to meet Nobel Prize winner Sir Greg Winter, and ask him for advice about my research career!

"I also did an eight-week summer research project at the university in between my second and third year, which gave me a head start on understanding the research environment and learning new techniques. It gave me a better idea of the kind of chemistry I was interested in, which helped focus my search when considering fourth year projects and eventually my PhD as well.

"My masters project meant I already understood a lot of the background chemistry needed for my PhD project. It also taught me about working independently in a lab, guiding my own work, analysing data and academic writing. I’m glad we had the opportunity to practise writing full lab reports and literature reviews before I got to my PhD, as it has vastly improved my scientific writing.

"My PhD project is titled ‘Artificial Intelligence-Directed Reaction Discovery’, and I’m working on using machine learning to predict reaction outcomes, eg, yields and selectivities. My work involves some computational research and some experimental lab work, which is a great mix in my opinion! I like the freedom and flexibility that comes with research – being able to explore my own ideas and work to my own schedule. I’ve really enjoyed learning new computational techniques and using new software, and I love working in a lab environment."

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