Chemistry Personal Statement
Submitted by Hodan
From Physical to Organic, Chemistry is a subject which allows us to interact with the world at a molecular level. The universal breadth of Chemistry and how it relates so smoothly to other Sciences has fuelled my passion into it. From thermodynamics to learning about the synthesis of drugs and their use in the body, Chemistry is everywhere.
Reading select chapters of Why Chemical Reactions Happen has helped develop my understanding of Physical Chemistry. In kinetics, for example, I was intrigued by how mechanisms could be solely determined by their rate equations allowing us to distinguish whether the mechanism is SN1 or SN2. In my spare time, I’ve researched into free radical chemistry and how climate change is impacting the Earth’s atmosphere. From this, I wrote an essay on how the composition of the atmosphere changes over time, which discusses the mechanism of free radical decomposition of ozone.
Knowledge gained through my other A-Level subjects has all fed into my understanding of Chemistry. Participating in extension maths classes – where we solve MAT and STEP problems – has improved my problem-solving skills. I applied these skills alongside my understanding of AS Chemistry to tackle questions which went past the scope of my syllabus during 2017’s C3L6, which required us to visualise and manipulate complex molecules in 3D. This challenge gave me an insight into the complexity of what degree level Chemistry ensues, and I received a Bronze award for my efforts.
Studying Computational Chemistry during a summer school at UCL, my eyes were opened to how experiments can be monitored through visualisation of molecules using computational modelling. I worked with scientific researchers using VMD, and we studied simulations of potassium channels and how they moved in cell membranes. Computational modelling in Chemistry is an incredibly powerful technique, and I am very interested to learn more about it at University.
The Experience Cambridge Summer School gave me an insight into the work of a PhD student. I was intrigued by her research into a relatively new part of Chemistry, DNA Origami, and how one long strand of DNA and one shorter strand can bind complementarily to form different structures from DNA. From more fun applications like smiley faces to making protein channels in cell membranes. I was required to create a Nano-device that applied DNA origami. Using my knowledge of cell membranes and channel proteins, I came up with the idea to make a chloride channel. This could have medicinal applications, for instance, it could aid sufferers of Cystic Fibrosis as they have abnormalities in the function of chloride channels. Relating this project to Computational Chemistry, I used the protein database online to find the channel and then used VMD to create a model of what it may look like.
Studying analytical techniques in school taught me how to distinguish the bonds present in a molecule and how to use that information to infer its structure. Synthesising Caffeine at the University of Bristol gave me the chance to use IR and apply these techniques, identifying the functional groups present in the drug to check that I had synthesised the correct product. Using an IR spectrometer showed me first-hand how Chemists can interact with the world at the molecular level. I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of synthesising caffeine, followed by challenge of product analysis.
Outside of my studies, I volunteer every Saturday with Oxfam. The role requires effective time management and being able to work well with others. In my spare time, I enjoy participating in Bridge tournaments.