Rachel Woods, 33

Research Chemist

I see myself as a Research Chemist, even though I work in Materials Engineering. Swansea University encourages collaboration between disciplines and the study of polymeric materials straddles both subjects.

I am part of a team developing ways to use functional coatings on buildings which could end up revolutionising the construction sector and bring significant environmental benefits. 

During my PhD I developed three photosensitive polymeric materials to coat printed circuit boards. They were used to produce nano-3D optical waveguides by laser writing into the material. Using pulses of light to transmit information through optical fibres is much faster than via copper tracks. Another project I have been involved with looked at ways of preventing pipes from corroding and leaching copper into the water supply.

Taking chemistry at Swansea was a great step on the road to research. I picked modules that suited me long-term, and along the way I got to study in Portugal and in Austria. I also spent time in industry but missed academic research.  Every week here is stimulating, whether your results are good or bad. 

It’s a great life. That’s why I am on the Swansea Soapbox Science organising committee. I want to encourage more women to join me studying STEM subjects. 

After an open day looking around the chemistry department, I knew instantly I wanted to study in Swansea. There were great facilities, friendly academics passionate about their research and a beautiful location right next to the beach.

As an undergraduate, and now as a researcher, I always felt there was a great support network on hand and there were plenty of events going on around campus to get involved with. It’s the ideal place to study.