STEMinist Profile: Sarah Murray, former research assistant, University of Manchester

Sarah Murray

Sarah Murray

Former research assistant
University of Manchester

What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I always enjoyed school right from the start and as a child decided that I wanted a career, to be in a profession of some kind. Like many kids though I wanted to be something different every week from actress to astronaut! When I was around 7 or 8 though I asked my parents for a chemistry set for christmas. That made the decision for me really. I was interested in most subjects but found I was most interested in chemistry and biology. If I’d listened to my mum I would have become a physician but its research I love.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
My PhD subject at the University of Manchester for so many reasons. I was fortunate enough to get a joint post as RA and PhD studentship so I was a student with a salary! This was in the only Paper Science Department in the country and involved working with alot of people. I guess these days it would be considered a green project.

It involved deinking office paper and trying to find the best enzymes for this purpose of removing ink, as a replacement for the harsh chemicals which were normally used. After over 2 years of hard work which I loved, getting 1 result which would lead to more experimental design and yet more answers was very rewarding. I also loved the fact that it was rather messy and I would get my hands dirty!

Role models and heroes:

  • My first role model was my A Level chemistry teacher Mrs Shelia Wilson. She still lives opposite some relatives of mine and I will always be fond of her.
  • All my undergrad teachers and my PhD tutor, Dr Chris Wilkins
  • Scientists of the past: Charles Darwin, Marie Curie, Rosalind Franklin.
  • Scientists of the present: Sir Harry Kroto, Dr Brian May, Prof. Richard Dawkins, Prof. Brian Cox
  • My friends, scientists and non scientists alike
  • My partner for his support.

Advice for future STEMinists?
Listen to your heart not other people and follow your dreams. It is your life, work hard and enjoy your work. Be passionate about it and your place of work. This will also help you to inspire people and be a good role model for the next generation. Opportunities and boundless rewards will come your way.

Favorite website or app:
University of Nottingham’s Periodic Table of Videos:

Twitter: @sarahscientist

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