Gemma Purser

Thanks for all the questions its been a great experience! Good luck guys!! :-)

Favourite Thing: The feeling when you put in the last piece of a giant jigsaw puzzle and it all fits!!!……thats the feeling I get from working out whats been happening in a scientific experiment. Measuring what is there and working out whats not and collecting all the data together to be able to tell a story about what happened.



I attended Kirkby Centre School in Nottinghamshire where I took my GCSE’s and studied A-Levels. I then went to the University of Derby where I studied for my undergraduate degree. I took my degree in the subjects I like the most and not with a set career path in mind. I then took a step out into the world of work. After 3 years I then realised I missed learning new things so did a masters degree part-time at Loughborough University whilst working full time.


A Levels – Chemistry, Biology and Psychology. Undergraduate degree – BSc (Hons) Chemistry and Biology (Joint). Post graduate degree – MSc in Analytical Chemistry.

Work History:

Varoius jobs as an Analytical Chemist ranging from pharmaceuticals to food manufacturing.

Current Job:

Work in the Fluid Processes Research Laboratories as an Analytical Geochemist


British Geological Survey

Me and my work

I carry out high pressure and temperature experiments for carbon capture and storage research (CCS). I recreate the conditions in the laboratory that can occur deep underground. I study how carbon dioxide reacts with different types of rocks.

Climate change could have a huge impact upon our planet and the way we live in the future. Climate change is a change in the weather that persists for long periods, typically decades or longer. It can be caused by natural Earth processes like volcanic activity, or due to human activities like industrialisation. In these processes carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) is released into the atmosphere, which traps radiation from the sun causing the temperature of Earth’s atmosphere and surface to rise (global warming). The problem is the amount of man-made (anthropogenic) carbon dioxide that is being released. Its still increasing.
It is difficult to predict exactly the amount of greenhouse gases that will be emitted in the future and the consequences that global warming will have on our planet. However, if we continue to pollute the atmosphere at the current rate it is predicted that the temperature could to rise by 4°C by 2100 (IPCC report). This may have a dramatic effect on the planet’s climate causing sea levels to rise, glaciers to melt and more frequent droughts and floods.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a technology that involves capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from large emission sources e.g. power stations and burying (storing) it underground in a suitable deep geological formation. This it is hoped will reduce the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere and lessen the effects of climate change.

Here is a cool video made by the British Geological Survey (BGS) and the Nottingham Centre for Carbon Capture and Storage (NCCCS) that explains more about carbon capture and storage (CCS).

My Typical Day

I get up in a morning……usually a lot later than I had planned and always start the day with a brew and chocolate biscuits!

I then get ready for anything! Every day is different in my Job, no day is typical. I am usually based in the laboratories or my office but I can sometimes be outside doing fieldwork or even in another country at project meetings or conferences discussing experimental results and ideas with other scientists from all around the world.


A lab day


The picture above is the laboratory where I work. In the laboratory the first thing I do is check on my experiments. Some of the experiments have been running for years, some that have been reacting for over 15 years! I then sample the experiments and prepare the fluids that come out ready for analysis. We analyse the samples and work out the concentration of different elements or ions are inside. These give us an idea of what has been happening in the experiment. I then plot this data up in graphs and use these to help explain to other scientists what we have (or haven’t!) found during the experiment.

myimage1 myimage2

The experiments are set up in ovens to control the temperature and the steel pressure vessels contain the rocks, water and carbon dioxide (fizzy water!). The diagram shows you how the vessel is set up inside. The pressures inside the vessels can be very high, up to 300 bar. That’s about 100 times more pressure than you use to inflate a bicycle tyre.



Sometimes I get the chance to do chemistry on a big scale! The pictures show me making cement using a bucket and spade! In the laboratory I also study the reactions of carbon dioxide with cement. Cement is used in the construction of boreholes that are used to transport the carbon dioxide underground into the rock below (storage reservoir).


In the field

I get to do fieldwork as part of my job too. Below is a picture of me sampling fluids and testing water for pH. I like doing fieldwork because you get to see the reactions that occur in nature and can see reactions that have occurred over even longer times scales such as tens or even millions of years.



Out and about

Sometimes I get to go to on trips abroad to talk about science. Its great meeting other scientists from different countries because it makes you realise that science is something that happens all over the world and that we should all work together to help solve the problem of climate change. This is me on a visit to Poland meeting up with other young scientists who work on carbon capture and storage. The team in the photo included people from Poland, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Italy and we won a poster competition set during a spring school that I attended. We are all now friends on facebook so we can meet up in the future. So far this year I have been to Poland, Spain and Germany. I may even be in America on fieldwork whilst I’m talking to some of you!


What I'd do with the money

I would use the money to explain the concepts of carbon capture and storage to local schools.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

small, outgoing, me!

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Hmmm tough one!! I like lots of bands and open to most music but love the Foo Fighters!!

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Probably riding my motorbike………..either the times i’ve took it round a race track or the time I rode it to Switzerland!

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

To be happy in life is the most important one for me! Being able to say I made a small contribution to the world in which we live and maybe a trip to British Columbia to see the purple starfish just because they look cool!!

What did you want to be after you left school?

All I wanted to do when I left school was wear a white lab coat in my job and have a white van! ………..I managed to get one of those things! :)

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

Not really, I was pretty quiet……my poor timekeeping was about the worst offence!

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

Using a cement mixer to make cement for an experiment at work was a pretty fun day but I guess the most exciting thing for me is just about to happen! Im going to a desert in Utah in America, in a few weeks time to do some fieldwork on a natural carbon dioxide storage reservoir (collecting fizzy water from the ground). In fact I hope to be out there when i’m talking to some of you guys!!

Tell us a joke.

Other stuff

Work photos:

myimage8 me with the motorbike for those who were interested.