Master’s in Chemistry of Sustainable Processes and Materials, how it aligns to my future career?

Do you have a background in Chemistry and struggle to decide which university to join for the master's degree? Here in this blog, I will share my wonderful learning experiences in the master’s programme in Chemistry of Sustainable Processes and Materials at the University of Oulu.
Two books on a table in a library

Why Chemistry of Sustainable Processes and Materials

The subject ‘Chemistry’ makes many people feel scared, but for a chemistry student, it’s more like playing a puzzle where we want to solve modern-day problems for our planet, like how to contribute to solving the universal energy crisis, climate change, waste management and provision of clean water, etc.

Chemistry of Sustainable Processes and Materials is a multidisciplinary programme that lies under the Faculty of Technology at the University of Oulu, and it is further divided into different research units dealing with research areas like battery chemistry, water treatment, inorganic synthesis, biomass conversion studies, and organic synthesis. All these research groups have high collaboration with the industries and other research units and provide sustainable and greener solutions to modern world problems.

My motivation behind my study choice

I have always been amazed by the natural phenomenon happening around me. The idea that there is a completely different universe existing inside the living bodies, and any kind of matter and chemical phenomena taking place in picoseconds time span which are keeping us alive and making it possible for us to perceive the outer world, leaves me still astounded.

My interest in the field of chemistry developed gradually by exploring the deeper aspects of the subject and it is mainly driven by curiosity and the desire to contribute to the field of science. I have been reading biographies of Sir Alexander Flemming and Louis Pasteur during my high school years. I personally believe that we are still in debt of the struggles of all the pioneer scientists who have contributed to the world of science in their unique ways, and due to which we are now able to live a comfortable life where wounds are getting healed quickly by medicines and there is electricity in our houses and clean water comes from the tap daily, and millions of skincare and beauty products in the market to make our everyday looks even more beautiful!

I believe that all these fascinations from the scientists made me choose science in general and chemistry, in particular, for my bachelor's degree. I completed my Bachelor of Science (honours) degree in Chemistry from Forman Christian College (A Chartered University), Lahore, Pakistan, where I was selected as a Cultural Ambassador for the Fulbright Exchange Programme to the United States of America, and that opportunity paved my way to the University of Oulu, Finland for the completion of higher studies.

My learning outcomes so far

During my time at the University of Oulu, I gained useful skills through my Project work BattCircle 2.0 (in collaboration with VTT and Aalto University), where I learned to work with very sensitive X-ray Diffractometer instruments as a researcher. I was able to measure the samples from the researchers of the University of Oulu, as well as from different notable companies like Fortum, Neste and other universities as well comprising battery materials, catalysts, geopolymers, industry slags and so on.

I also got to learn the analysis of XRD patterns through different software like PDXL2 Rigaku and X’pert Highscore Software. I consider myself very fortunate to be able to study the courses like X-ray Crystallography, which gives very detailed insight into the complexities of crystal structure this knowledge comes in very handy in practical laboratory work.

"The Chemistry of Sustainable Processes and Materials programme is designed to equip students with modern research methods and techniques, to provide them hands-on experience and develop their research skills to make them a good fit to the job market."

I learned article writing for scientific findings in a practical laboratory work course; Biomass-based platform chemicals and their organic analysis. I would also like to mention the Surface Analytical Techniques course, which provided me with a chance to learn about various aspects of material analytical techniques and included a visit to the Centre of Material Analysis Research Unit and a demonstration of every instrument.

During the summer, I got an opportunity to work as a Research Assistant in the Sustainable Chemistry Research Unit. There, I got the opportunity to work on various treatment methods to improve the quality of industrial wastewater and got exciting results, which are under the process of publication.

Apart from the chemistry department, I was able to take freely any courses of my choice, including MATLAB and C language courses, Employability and Working life Skills where we were taught how to compete in job interviews and how to make the best out of the LinkedIn profile when it comes to job hunting.

Future expectations

Oulu offers a serene and calm environment, which helped me focus on my studies better. Also, Oulu is a cultural centre for Northern Ostrobothnia, there are always some music and cultural festivals going on. The city has bike routes and so many lakes and beaches to interact with nature, which helps students to relax their minds and adds to their experiences.

As a student, I expect to get the best of my experience at the University of Oulu by actively participating in the lab work for my thesis and then I would like to continue my PhD studies here.

If you have a background in chemistry/chemical engineering, I assure you that the University of Oulu is the best spot in Finland, you shouldn’t miss!

About the authour

Humna Ahmed, from Pakistan, is a master’s student in Chemistry of Sustainable Processes and Materials. She is a nature lover and is making the best out of her time in Oulu whilst sunshine and auroras!