Melissa Ladyman

Thanks to all the students who took part- I had a great time!

Favourite Thing: I love working out how to do new experiments. Sometimes you know what you want to do, but not how to do it, or even if it is possible! I love the challenge of working out how to do something no one has done before.



Edinburgh University (2010-2015 & 2005-2010) Anglo European Sixth Form (2002-2004), Anglo European School (1997-2002)


PhD, MChem degree (2:1), International Baccalaureate, GCSE’s

Work History:

Edinburgh University, Blackwell Bookshop, Brentwood Council

Current Job:

Teaching Fellow


Cranfield University

About Me

I am a teacher and environmental scientist at a university, but in my spare time I love writing stories, baking cakes and dancing like mad.

I love my job, but I also love to do many other things so I am really busy all the time! I live in Swindon with my partner, and we like to go to the cinema and play badminton and go swimming. We are trying to write a comic book set in the future- I do the writing, and my fiancé does the drawing.

I also love reading books, baking cakes and taking photos. I love learning languages and have lived in France, tried to learn Spanish, Russian and German and am now learning Japanese. My friends and family think I try to do too much, but there are so many things to do and learn that it’s hard to stop.

Sometimes I love playing video games to relax. My favourite games are Mario Kart, Lego Harry Potter and Fire Emblem.

My Work

My job is to find out how explosives travel through the ground, water and air and to make sure that the chemicals do not damage the environment or hurt any animals.

Have you ever heard about an unexploded bomb being found underground after many years? They sometimes have dents in them, or are rusty because they have been left alone for so long. Bombs contain many chemicals which can be dangerous for animals, plants and humans if they get too close. My job is to work out what happens to the chemicals if they get into the soil and water. I want to find out how fast and far the chemicals can travel, and how dangerous they will be when they reach a river, or when plant roots suck the chemicals out of the ground. I also want to know how to remove the chemicals from the rivers and plants. Some very clever plants can suck up the chemicals and turn them into different, safe chemicals. We can also wash the soil, but that can take a very long time so we want to find out new ways of cleaning up the ‘run away’ chemicals.

Another part of my job is to teach people how to look after the environment. I teach them how to recycle and reuse more of the rubbish, how to use less fossil fuels and how to protect rivers, fields and the air we breathe. I teach lots of different people; sometimes I teach people who work in different companies, and sometimes I work with university students.

My Typical Day

Check on the work in the laboratory (lots of mud), teach a class about the environment and finish with talking to my boss about how to get more money so we can do more work.

What I'd do with the money

I’d like to create a travelling environmental science experiment session for schools.

I am a member of the South West StemNet network. We try to come up with great science experiments to do with school pupils of all ages. I would really like to spend the money on designing a great experimental kit with help from other scientists to show pupils how interesting and fun science can be. I would use the money to buy all the bits of science equipment I would need, and if I had any left over I would put it towards other projects within the same community.

The laboratory experiments would be things like showing how chemicals can travel in soil, air and water, removing bad chemicals from soil and water, providing materials for students to create their own ‘environment cleaners’- machines that can clean up plastic from the sea, or pick up litter on the street. I’m sure lots of my colleagues would also have loads of ideas! I’m always happy to hear about new and interesting ideas!

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Creative, pragmatic and optimistic

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Carrie Underwood (at the moment…)

What's your favourite food?

Tuna sushi

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Ice skating at the Rockefeller Center

What did you want to be after you left school?

Fiction writer

Were you ever in trouble at school?

Once I was told off for cheating on a test and was given after school detention and I was really upset because I had not cheated!

What was your favourite subject at school?

Art, French, Chemistry

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

Working at a science festival in Edinburgh because I was able to talk to everyone and anyone about chemistry!

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

My secondary school teacher because he shared his love of science, and told us about all the amazing things he had done- like working in Antarctica!

If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?

A fiction writer

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

I wish I didn’t have to sleep so that I could do more in the day, and I wish I could fly so I wouldn’t have to get a bus to work!

Tell us a joke.

What’s the first thing you learn in chemistry?…. never lick the spoon!

Other stuff

Work photos: