Young Selkirk scientist set to impress judges

Imogen Riddell chemist
Imogen Riddell chemist

FORMER Selkirk High School pupil Imogen Riddell has hit the right formula for a successful career in chemistry.

The 26-year-old Cambridge University PhD student, daughter of local builder Keith Riddell and his wife, Anne, is one of a select band of scientists picked to present papers – known as posters – to a special panel of MPs and expert judges at the House of Commons on Monday.

Imogen Riddell chemist. Chem Sci poster prize.

Imogen Riddell chemist. Chem Sci poster prize.

Imogen credits her interest in chemistry to the encouragement of teachers while a pupil at the high school.

That early inspiration started her on a journey that has already taken Imogen from a masters degree at Strathclyde University to a place at Cambridge and once that is complete, she will jet off to the US continue her research at one of the most prestigious technical universities in the world – Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 

But before all that, she has a date with some of Britain’s top politicians and leading science experts when she presents her poster to the panel, as part of SET for Britain.

SET for Britain involves approximately 180 early-stage or early-career researchers who are entered into either the engineering, biological and biomedical sciences, physical sciences (chemistry), or physical sciences (physics) session, depending on their specialism. Each section will result in the award of bronze, silver and gold certificates, and there will also be an overall medal winner chosen. Bronze winners will also receive a £1,000 prize; silver, £2,000; and gold, £3,000.

Imogen’s poster presentation is on research investigating self-organising structures and their potential application in real-life situations, such as the capture and recycle of the most potent greenhouse gas, SF6.

Imogen told The Wee Paper she was thrilled to be taking part in such a prestigious event: “It is a fantastic opportunity to present the results of my research to members of parliament and highlight the importance of scientific research performed within the UK.”

Imogen says people should not let the fact they hail from small towns deter them from aiming high.

“I chose chemistry as a career because I had really good teachers at school, who encouraged me to question why reactions happen,” she said.

“I enjoy working as a chemist because the challenges you face day-to-day are always very different – you need to apply logic and problem-solving tools to try and address the questions you face in your research.

“I always think that when I was growing up in Selkirk the opportunities that were perceived to be available were very limited, and I would certainly never have imagined going to Cambridge, let alone entering this competition.”