Ruhee Dawood: Chemistry graduate going for Ph.D.

This month we caught up with Ruhee Dawood, (BSc Chemistry, 2020, James) who kindly penned an article all about her journey to York from Kenya, how her scholarships helped her in achieving her dreams and what she’s going on to do next.

I came to the UK from my home country, Kenya to study Chemistry in 2017 and last year, I graduated top of my year with a BSc in Chemistry and started a Ph.D. in Chemistry at York in October 2020 as a Wild Fund Platinum Scholar. Four years ago, I had no way of knowing what the outcome of an undergraduate degree would be – I have made some lovely friends on my course, built strong friendships with my housemates and have gotten to know lots of people who were on the same scholarship as me (Sharifah Sofia Albukhary Scholarship) who I am still in touch with! In my final year (2019-2020), I undertook my final year research project with the Avestro Group and I was welcomed with open arms – this is the same group where I am now almost completing the first year of my Ph.D. – and I feel as though I am part of a large extended family! 

A group picture of Ruhee (middle right) with the Avestro Group in front of Cliffords Tower, York

Throughout my time at York, I have been blessed with the amount of support I have received in the form of scholarships that have truly contributed to my wonderful experiences. In December 2019, I received a York Futures Scholarship that provided me with financial support to attend my first international and interdisciplinary conference (The Royal Society of Chemistry’s Macrocyclic and Supramolecular Chemistry Conference), held at the University of Kent. There were lots of really fantastic talks by world-leading researchers in such diverse fields of Chemistry and I learned so much and got to network with some of these inspiring academics.

I also created a poster on the research I had been working on (and was even named first author!) which I had the opportunity to present to other conference attendees over two days. This was tough because you were placed in a small room with about 30-40 other posters and so it was difficult to grab the attention of people to come and look at your work. I approached a senior-looking professor, but unfortunately, he said he would come back another time and I thought I had lost that opportunity, but didn’t think too much of it at the time. 

I bumped into him again, later on, presented my poster to him and we discussed the research with him asking me a few questions. Later, a postdoc from my research group came up to me and asked if I knew the researcher I had just presented to, giving me the impression that I should have known who it was. He then told me that it was Professor David Leigh, from the University of Manchester, who is a Nobel Prize nominee from 2016 and very highly regarded in the field of Supramolecular Chemistry! This shocked me but I felt honoured to have been able to speak to him and to have had the opportunity to discuss my work with him. 

Professor Leigh was the closing note speaker. He is very well known for conducting magic tricks during his research talks and he ended up calling out to me to help me with his magic trick, commenting about the conversation we had had about my research! I was very shocked, but went along with it and ended up getting a signed card from him (attached in the pictures).

A two of hearts card signed by Professor David Leigh which I would like to share with you to spread a little bit of magic

Overall, the experience was out of this world. Coming from Kenya, I could never have ever imagined being able to attend a conference together with top academics from across the globe and I was so so grateful for the scholarship for helping me get there!

Are you a new graduate or did you benefit from a scholarship? We would love to hear from you and hear your stories

Are you able to support students at York? Find out more about our scholarships on our website. 

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