Alumni Profile: Katayune Presland
Today we meet Dr Katayune (Kat) Presland, who is originally from Bradford. Kat studied MChem (Hons) Chemistry with study in North America (now MChem (Hons) Chemistry with International Study), spending her 3rd year at The University of Toronto. She then went on to study a PhD in Nanochemistry with Prof. Paul O’Brien.
What did you enjoy most about the course?
I liked the opportunity to study and live abroad during my undergraduate. I also got involved with a lot of outreach opportunities during my PhD working with secondary school students which has supported the type of career I have gone into.
What are your thoughts on Manchester as a city?
Manchester is a great city; I love it here and have no plans to leave anytime soon! There are so many opportunities, exciting events, bars, restaurants that you can never be bored in this city. It also has great transport links to the rest of the UK and abroad.
Can you tell us more about your current role and your main responsibilities?
I now work at the University of Manchester on behalf of Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and my role is multifaceted.
I support primary and secondary teachers by delivering hands on workshops, I work with chemical industries to advise them how to work with their local schools and I also organise science stands at events such as Bluedot Festival so that RSC members can get involved and interact with the general public. I also deliver RSC’s fully funded scheme Spectroscopy in a Suitcase for University of Manchester and take undergrad and postgrad students into schools to work with 16-18yr old chemistry students using a portable FTIR and NMR spectrometer. The fact that I work with lots of different audiences means that my days are varied and I’m out and about a lot. Working with other STEM organisations, teachers, RSC volunteers etc who are passionate about this kind of work makes it a very rewarding role.
How did your time at The University of Manchester help with this?
My role required a PhD in chemistry due to the requirement to be confident in delivering workshops to A-level students. Having the opportunity to take part in different outreach events during my PhD allowed me to have the experience to be able to develop my own activities for events that I now deliver. I am a confident science communicator and can provide advice to new volunteers on how to interact with the public in a clear and concise way.
What would you say to people considering coming to The University of Manchester to study?
If you are considering chemistry at the University of Manchester, know that you can get a lot of support within the department with your learning and the lab facilities are great. However, I’d also say that the university also has a lot of different things going on all year round! Explore these options and you should easily find something that you enjoy/feel passionate about and get involved! University isn’t just all about the course, it’s about being happy in the city that you’re in and the whole experience overall!
And outside university… what do you get up to in your spare time?
Outside work, I volunteer for a not-for-profit company called The Loop who provide drug safety testing, welfare and harm reduction services for festivals, nightclubs and in city centres. As a senior chemist for this organisation, I have attended a number of festivals over the past three years including Parklife, Kendal Calling and led at Lost Village festival to provide this service. I also do pole dancing as a way to keep fit and have won a number of competitions.