Graduate SCI Scholar Interview Anna Zhenova

30 September 2019

30 Sep 2019

For over thirty years, SCI has supported and recognised the excellence of early career people, by aiding their studies in the form of an SCI Scholarship.

Since 1985, over 70 scholarships have been awarded which have not only given the recipients financial assistance, but have enabled them to broaden their network as well as strengthen their skills and knowledge. SCI Scholars receive access to publishing and mentoring opportunities and are given a platform to present their work amongst esteemed scientists and industrialists, thus raising their profile within the scientific community. In the past eight years alone, SCI has generously bequeathed over £115,000 of its charitable funds to SCI Scholars and the scientists of the future.

Anna Zhenova received an SCI Scholarship in 2017. Below she tells us what being an SCI Scholar has enabled her to do.

What has the Scholarship from SCI enabled you to do that would not have been possible otherwise?

The scholarship has been a great help in allowing me to focus fully on my research without having to supplement my income with part-time jobs. I was also able to pursue extracurricular activities, such as chairing our grad student sustainability society, organising seminars, starting to learn Mandarin, and taking up bouldering as exercise. The overall effect has been very good for my mental and physical health!

What has been the most valuable part of receiving the Scholarship?

The most valuable part of the scholarship has been the positive effect on my mental and physical health. I was able to avoid taking on additional work, unlike my fellow Ph.D. students who I saw juggling research, demonstrating, and other responsibilities with no time left over for extracurriculars or self-care. The extra time I had in my schedule was invaluable as it allowed me to eat healthy and exercise in addition to focusing on the work that I wanted to do.

Which achievement are you most proud of in your academic career so far?

My proudest achievement has been developing my public speaking and communication skills. I’ve gone from being incredibly shy and reticent to winning poster prizes and research awards, thanks to a deliberate effort to improve my speaking skills and become more outgoing. I’m hoping to keep improving throughout my career, becoming an outstanding communicator who can engage people in the research I think is most important.

What impact do you think receiving the Scholarship will have on your future career?

I think the connection to SCI will continue to be helpful throughout my career. I’m from the US and knew very few industrial chemists in the UK before getting involved with SCI. I met some interesting people at this year’s AGM and have already had an interview with a science journalist about my work as a result. I’m hoping to build on that in the future, improving my understanding of the industrial chemistry landscape in the UK and expand my network.

What next?

I am starting my own company, Green Rose Chemistry, to offer solvent selection and development services to industrial clients. We will be an R&D consultancy based in York, partnering with the University of York to offer lab-based testing as well as in-depth expertise on solvent selection tools and options.

Is there anything else that you would like to highlight or note about your SCI Scholarship?

I really loved the low paperwork commitment for this scholarship, and the ease of receiving travel reimbursements for the meetings I attended. It is really thoughtful to keep acceptance of the scholarship low-stress, especially for PhD students who are already at their limit for commitments!

Anna Zhenova
PhD Student
University of York

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