Laura Finney

I'm in the final!! :O Keep asking your great questions and don't forget to vote :)

Favourite Thing: My favourite thing to do in science is shine lights on my experiments and see all the cool new things we can do using light.



Llaingoch Primary School, Holyhead High School (2003-2008), Coleg Menai (2008-2010) and The University of Nottingham (2010-present!)


AS level – physics, A levels – biology chemistry and maths, Masters degree in chemistry. Grade 3 in singing, basic food hygiene and a purple belt in karate.

Work History:

The University of Nottingham – present, A level Chemistry tutor – present, Futurelearn – Sep 2015-December 2015, Bill’s – June 2014 – now on and off, Endeavour Speciality Chemicals – September 2012-September 2013

Current Job:

PhD student at the University of Nottingham


The University of Nottingham

About Me

Science loving, wannabe masterchef contestant with a weakness for homeless animals.

Hiiiii! My name is Laura ☺️

I go to The University of Nottingham and live in Nottingham itself with my boyfriend Jake.

I have been at Nottingham for 6 years so I obviously must love it but I am from North Wales originally and the one thing I miss is living by the seaside. I have two little brothers who are 12 and 14 who I tell alllll the time about university and what I do. I also take them out for stupidly big, amazing milkshakes every time I’m home; they are my best friends.

We have a kitten called Nova ?❤️ who we adopted this week 😀


I absolutely love cooking and sometimes I’m a bit over-enthusiastic (Honeycomb anyone? I have enough for a month!). I also love cooking, reading on my way to work, dancing and singing.I must also admit I like football a little since my boyfriend has taught me the offside rule! (No tests on this please! LOL!)

I am a PhD chemist who cares about the world and so I am looking at making chemistry better for everyone. As well as being in the lab I love communicating science to all kinds of people, so I am often involved with school visits (to and from the university), going to the Big Bang Fair and trying to spy opportunities to show people how fun and interesting science is.

Sometimes I like to get out of the lab and at the weekends, if I’m needed, I do a bit a bit of waitressing/coffee making/cocktail shaking at Bill’s restaurant in Nottingham. I also write for the science section of the university magazine and love to go dancing with my friend Lydia? .I love to sing but never get the chance any more 🙁

My Work

The University of Nottingham

I work at the University of Nottingham as a PhD student. ?

I’m part of a programme called the Centre for Doctoral Training in Sustainable Chemistry. This means all of our PhDs are focussed on doing research to make chemistry better. This is because chemistry is known for being quite bad for the environment. It uses lots of materials that come from fossil fuels, rare and expensive metals and produces a lot of waste. We can’t continue to do work like that and so we aim to change it 🙂

Basically, I get sunlight to shine on my reaction to make important molecules so that we can use less fossil fuels and help to save the planet. By shining light on the reactions (sunlight ideally), we don’t have to use heat which comes from the electric grid and so is generated from fossil fuels. The sun’s energy is endless and renewable and  I aim to remove any metals from my reactions. This is almost exactly what plants do and we can do it in the lab!

Overall I am trying to help to save the planet, which I think is pretty cool!  ?  ?


My Typical Day

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A typical day in the life of Laura (here goes):

7am – Alarm goes off and I’m not a morning person so I snooze this about 5 times before I realise I must get up or I’ll miss my bus.

8am – Frantically make a coffee in my travel cup, feed Nova and run to the bus with it because once again I’m risking missing it.

9am – Arrive at work, check my emails and reactions from yesterday, and start doing some lab work! This usually involved putting on my lab coat/goggles and gloves. I add chemicals together carefully, stir them, heat them or cool them and note down anything I notice like a colour change, anything heating up, any solid appearing/disappearing etc.

10.30am –  ? The much needed lab coffee break. We have “cake mondays” where someone bakes something nice and we all have coffee and eat together. On other days there may be biscuits.

11.55am – Get back to work! I might try and monitor the mornings reactions now using fancy machines or chromatography (you might have seen this done with filter paper and ink?).

12.30pm – Lunch time! This is when I usually enjoy a salad/sandwich or if I’m lucky I’ll have last nights left over pizza!

1pm – Continue lab work/reply to emails/write reports/check our CDT twitter/think about what I might make for dinner. The afternoon usually involves getting the thing I’ve made out of my reaction and making sure it’s all nice and clean. I then need to make sure it is what I think it is and not something else instead! This involves more fancy machines and graphs!

3.30pm –  coffee time again! What would we do without Sue the coffee lady?!

3.45pm – Put on another reaction which I might leave overnight. This usually means stirring some chemicals together and shining my big fancy greenhouse light at them and crossing my fingers that a reaction happens.

5pm – Start thinking about leaving for the day. Make a plan for tomorrow and write it in my diary, because if it isn’t written down I WILL forget and it won’t happen. Once I’ve shut everything down (and checked all reactions are safe of course!) I hop off to my bus to go home to Jake and Boo and probably cook something yummy for dinner 🙂

7pm onwards –  RELAX – ? ? eat food, cuddle Nova ?❤️  , drink tea , watch netflix/pointless/BGT, see friends, go dancing, go trampolining/bowling/cinema…you name it!

What I'd do with the money

I would really love to use the money to design some cool, interactive activities to take to science fairs and festivals like the Green Man Festival or Cheltenham Science Festival across the UK.

I really love getting out and chatting to all kinds of people about science, sustainability and what it is (why we need to be greener and make science nicer for the environment) and about my research.

It’s quite hard to put together activities without a good amount of money behind you.

I would love to make activities that show some green chemistry at work but are also visually impressive (maybe they could involve some bangs and flashes or dry ice – who knows?!)

The money would let me get some expertise in to help design the activities and pay for the equipment and entry to festivals so I can help spread the word about sustainable research here at our CDT!


I’d also love you guys to come along so you can see what I’ve done and meet as many of you as possible 🙂

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

chatty, fun, hardworking

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Paramore (but Justin Bieber is my guilty pleasure – is it too late now to say sorry?!)

What's your favourite food?

Fajitas/Katsu Curry

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Swam with dolphins

What did you want to be after you left school?

A vet – I’ve always loved animals and science but the thought of someone bringing a spider/snake to me was terrifying!

Were you ever in trouble at school?

I had detention for talking too much in class – oops!

What was your favourite subject at school?


What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

Helped young people to understand science and realise that they too can do science or whatever they want to do; no matter who they are or where they are from.

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

My physics teacher at college because I thought he was pretty cool. He was super clever, ate healthily and went to the gym at lunch times. I thought he should have been an astronaut! But he was also really helpful and gave the best advice, almost like a grandfather would.

If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?

If I wasn’t a scientist I would probably be a food developer because I love cooking and changing recipes. I also love eating out.

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

To own a sausage dog called Chip (I’m a little bit obsessed with sausage dogs), to get a job I love after my PhD and have a nice little happy family.

Tell us a joke.

Tell you a chemistry joke? Well I would but all the good ones Argon ;)

Other stuff

Work photos:


This is a picture of my research group on a walk in Belvoir (you can see the castle in the background). We go on a walk like this every year and have lunch/BBQ at the end as a little team building day and time away from the lab. Our professor also comes with us and hosts the BBQ at his house!


This is a picture of one of my light reactions looking quite ghostly. You might be surprised to see some birthday balloons on there – what on earth could they be for?! Was it someone’s birthday?! Unfortunately not! My reactions need oxygen and so we fill the balloons with oxygen and attach them to the top of the flask so that the oxygen is pumped in 🙂


As well as being in the lab it is important to tell people in the world what you are doing. Sometimes we do this with posters. So here is a picture of me with one of my old posters which I stood by for an afternoon and spoke to people about. There were about 25 other people doing the same.

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I have said in my profile that I love speaking to all kinds of people about science – adults and children alike. These pictures are of my at some stands where we showed some of the local schools some cool (and messy hence the buckets!) experiements and then A level students at our open days were shown some of our equipment and we chatted about what it’s like to go to uni.


And this is my new little kitten Nova (named after supernova) who we got last week 😀 Sorry I’m not sure how to make the photo rotate 🙁