Nuffield Research Placement alumni and project supervisor Aneesa Al-Ani | Case study

By Nuffield Foundation

Aneesa Ali-Ani discusses her experience as a Nuffield Research Placement student and project supervisor.


Nuffield Research Placement student, 2012
Teesside University
Testing everyday household compounds for false positive result for cannabis with the Duquenois-Levine test.
Nuffield Research Placement project supervisor, 2019
University of Bath
PhD research testing physical properties of an active pharmaceutical ingredient found in inhalers for asthma.

What path did you take after finishing your Nuffield Research Placement?

After conducting an organic / analytical chemistry based NRP I went on to do a master’s degree in chemistry, the research projects and internships I did during the degree were organic chemistry based. I have always been interested in the pharmaceutical drug side of chemistry which was touched on during my NRP. During my master’s degree I focused on synthesising natural products with therapeutic properties (anti-inflammatory). 

I started my PhD program due to the sustainability aspects, I think it is important to think about the environmental implications research has (waste production and how hazardous the materials used are) minimizing the environmental footprint in chemistry as well as getting the chemistry to work in the first place was important to me. I am now a solid state chemist in collaboration with the pharmaceutical company, Astrazeneca, and work on enhancing the solid state properties of existing pharmaceutical drugs by influencing how molecules interact with each other on a molecular level.  

Did your Nuffield Research Placement influence the choices that you made?

My NRP reassured me that a chemistry degree was the right option for me, a subject I was passionate about and would enjoy at university level.  

Have you been involved in supervising NRP students yourself?

Yes, the student’s project included testing physical properties of an active pharmaceutical ingredient found in inhalers for asthma. The experience enhanced my communication, project planning and on the spot thinking skills. It was lovely to work one to one with a student as a team instead of the usual solo work as a PhD student. The student was a delight to work with and never failed to surprise me with how easily she was able to pick up and understand the advance scientific concepts behind the work we were doing. It is an experience I would highly recommend to any PhD student to take part in as it really tests your teaching skills and ability. 

My placement student went on to take part in competitions to showcase the research she did during the project.” Aneesa Al-Ani

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We improve people’s lives by funding research that informs social policy, primarily in Education, Welfare and Justice. We also fund student programmes that give young people skills and confidence in science and research.

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