New year – new PhD?

New year – new PhD?

5th January 2024

Within the chemical engineering community, industrial and academic research is a critical enabler to growing, and sustainably maintaining, the impact of our profession in solving our long-term global grand challenges. Supporting and encouraging the development of future generations is vital, but a 2021 IChemE survey that looked to understand the perceptions and drivers for engaging with chemical engineering research suggested that the purpose and possibilities were not always clear to early-career individuals and students.

There was a need for a holistic insight into the field, and a collaborative effort followed by the members of IChemE’s Research and Innovation Community of Practice (R&I CoP). Individuals working (or who had worked) in chemical engineering research across a wide range of academic and industrial sectors were interviewed, not only about their career goals and journey to date, but also about how their perceptions of chemical engineering research have changed over time. Their narratives showcase the dynamic minds shaping the future of their field and have been brought together in a collection of stories entitled ‘Making a difference in chemical engineering research ‒ Personal career journeys’.

Cordelia Selomulya FIChemE, Professor at the School of Chemical Engineering at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Australia, and Chair of the R&I CoP, said: “The personal journey of researchers in the continuously evolving landscape of chemical engineering research, particularly at the early stage of their careers, is a captivating narrative of passion, perseverance, and innovation. This collection of stories demonstrates the diverse paths these researchers have taken, the challenges they’ve conquered and continue to face, and the transformative impact they aspire to achieve. The interviews serve as direct insights into the experiences, aspirations, and personal philosophies that help enable chemical engineering progress. I sincerely wish that this booklet had existed 20-something years ago when I started my own academic career as a young PhD graduate.

“From new discoveries to innovative methodologies, the journey of these early-career researchers not only inspires, but also provides invaluable insights for those following in their footsteps. I hope this booklet can be a source of motivation for aspiring researchers everywhere who continue tirelessly to propel our world forward.”

Read 'Making a difference with chemical engineering research: Personal career journeys'.


Making a difference with chemical engineering research: Personal career journeys


For more information please contact:

Ann Baylis, Communications Executive and PR Lead, IChemE
t: +44 (0) 1788 534477

Dan Owens, Communications Executive, IChemE  
t: +44 (0) 1788 534458  

What is chemical engineering?

Chemical, biochemical and process engineering is the application of science, mathematics and economics in the process of turning raw materials into everyday, and more specialist, products. Professional chemical engineers design, construct and manage process operations all over the world. Energy, pharmaceuticals, food and drink, synthetic fibres and clean drinking water are just some of the industry sectors and products where chemical engineering plays a central role.


The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) advances chemical engineering's contribution for the benefit of society. We facilitate the development of chemical engineering professionals and provide connections to a powerful network of around 30,000 members in more than 100 countries.

We support our members in applying their expertise and experience to make an influential contribution to solving major global challenges, and are the only organisation permitted to award Chartered Chemical Engineer status and Professional Process Safety Engineer registration.