Photo:

Patience Dorgu

Getting ready to respond to your questions

Favourite Thing: Being imaginative. Science has no restrictions, so my imagination is my limitation. Hence , I’m eager to start my experiments.

My CV

School:

Idia College, Airforce Secondary School, University of Ibadan (all in Nigeria)

University:

University of Aberdeen, Scotland, 2006/7. MSc in Safety Engineering. Currently, PhD Safety Engineering.

Work History:

I worked for about 7+ years as a health and safety practitioner in the oil and gas industry. My chief role was to ensure people worked safely, and accidents were prevented.

Employer:

Currently, I am a research student at the School of Engineering, University of Aberdeen so I do not hold a regular job. However, over summer I am going to work evenings at a bar to make more friends and have some fun. Yipppee!

Current Job:

Sometimes I volunteer at school. The last time, I took some prospective students on a tour of the school’s laboratories.

Me and my work

Its exciting and tedious, but I’m up to it! I am very new at this; I am working on novel ways to transport heavy crude oils. My work will help oil and gas companies spend less money in production, and free up money for other worthy causes.

I am currently a ‘roving” scientist; I started my career with a degree in Chemistry, then worked for several years as a health and safety practitioner. Now I am undertaking a research in a field in Chemical Engineering –  Flow Assurance (specifically, production of heavy crude oil).

Somehow, I found myself needing more scientific and engineering skills to improve my output at work, and had some niggling questions so some sort of independent training was necessary; none better than to become a researcher. The good thing about being a researcher is that I independently  identify the skills I want to develop, determine the sort of questions I need answers to and then have a free hand to map my own plan to getting results.

The essence of my work is to find out how to produce heavy crude oil safely with reduced costs. Because of its higher viscosity “i.e heaviness”, heavy crude oil doesn’t flow as easily as conventional (lighter) crude oil. Sometimes, as it flows through a pipeline, some changes in its thermodynamics i.e temperature,  pressure, or composition etc will cause heavy molecular substances specifically, asphaltenes, resins, waxes etc to precipitate out and deposit onto the walls of the pipeline. This is similar to cholesterol clogging our arteries when we eat too much fatty foods. These then reduces the effective pipeline size hence the volume of crude that is produce per time. If this deposition continues onto the holding vessel for the crude oil, it may be necessary to shut down production process to rectify it (that is a heart attack!). This is situation we do not want to happen as petroleum production processes are quite expensive and we do not like any unnecessary delay.

If we can stop this from happening by understanding the mechanism by which we can retain the heavy substances in solution, we can reduce the cost of production, and more money will be available for research into developing renewable energy resources or advancements in healthcare, food production etc.

In the future, I will attend seminars and conferences to tell other scientists and industry participants about my work, and showcase any progress I have made.

My Typical Day

Currently, just reading up stuff and reviewing previous work by other scientists.

As I am yet to start experimental work, I do a lot of reading which is called literature review. So in a typical day, I go to the gym to get some energy burst for work. Then I’m off to my reading room or library to browse through the existing literature (journals, conference proceedings, articles etc). In the course of reading, I either make up some questions about what I’m reading or I critique the work of the author (scientist). It may just be that some other scientists has a different opinion (which usually is based on results from conducted experiments), which I agree more with. So following from that, I have to find more previous work that either corroborates or disproves my line of thought. A typical day may run from 9am – 5pm, with about 3 hours of break.

At least once a week, I find myself heading towards the cinema to see a movie!

What I'd do with the money

Use it for charitable work!

I have a keen interest in accident prevention, and many developing countries do not have the same high standards of safety as the United Kingdom does. In my home country, Nigeria, a lot of school children get hurt either while at school or on their way to school because of poor safety attitudes and lack of awareness. So I will invest my winnings in organising training on safety programmes for Nigerian school children – like first aid, road safety, fire ssafety etc.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

I am friendly, outgoing and personable.

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Any soft rock or pop musician will do – maybe Lady Gaga.

What is the most fun thing you've done?

I’ve done a lot of fun things so I really can’t say.

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

Maybe have a flatter tummy (I eat a lot of chocolates!); Get a particular boy to like me (that will be some luck), have dinner with Slash of Guns N’ Roses band (wish me best of luck).

What did you want to be after you left school?

A teacher – I became a health and safety trainer instead.

Were you ever in trouble at school?

Not really, but I could ask a lot of questions, just like Karen in Outnumbered.

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

Decide to do research, I guess.

Tell us a joke.

The skeleton couldn’t go to the dance, because it had no body to go with!