Fiona joined Johnson Matthey as a research scientist in 2011 and enjoys applying her academic skills in a business context

Fiona Wigzell, PhD in Heterogenous Catalysis from the University of Glasgow; joined Johnson Matthey in 2011 as a research scientist

I joined Johnson Matthey as a research scientist at JMTC and soon began work on a biofuels project. Funded by the US government, the project required us to develop catalysts to upgrade fatty acid methyl esters into hydrocarbon fuels. My team investigated alternatives to fossil fuels in collaboration with other corporations: OPX Biotechnologies Inc., and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. It was great to work alongside such talented people with a broad range of expertise.

I was and still am based at Johnson Matthey's Chilton site in the UK, but was lucky enough to be able to travel to the US to present our results. A number of catalysts were produced and we managed to achieve complete conversion of the fatty acid feed. Further work is currently under way to adapt our technology in order to achieve this on a larger scale.

Reflecting on Johnson Matthey

The most important lesson I have taken from my time at Johnson Matthey is that it is very important to retain a business perspective on your academic knowledge. Being able to apply this within a corporate environment is an extremely valuable skill. Chemistry has always fascinated me and I am working in catalysis on a different biomass-related project.

My time at Johnson Matthey has been thoroughly enjoyable so far, and I look forward to being involved with similarly exciting initiatives moving forward.