Profile: James Dawick

Years at the University: 2004-2008
Degree awarded: F1BF, MChem, Medicinal Chemistry with Pharmacology. First Class
Current employment details: An Environmental/Regulatory Scientist at Royal Dutch Shell

Personal View

I was an undergraduate at the University of Liverpool Chemistry Department from 2004-2008. I graduated from the University in June 2008 with a first class MCHEM degree and a series of awards for my performance in both chemistry/pharmacology exams and the final year research project (Leverhulme/Syngenta and Sigma-Aldrich awards respectively). I think it goes without saying that the reason I performed well academically was down to the quality of tuition that is on offer at the chemistry and pharmacology departments at the University of Liverpool.

After graduation my initial goal and intention was to continue at the department and study for a PhD in organic chemistry. However, after much thinking and deliberating I made the decision to pursue a career in the chemical/pharmaceutical industry. The initial period of active job searching was extremely difficult and nothing seemed to be working out for me. However, after 12 months my perseverance paid-off and I finally managed to land a temporary position working as a junior contract regulatory scientist with Shell, based at Shell Technology Centre, Thornton, Cheshire, UK. After working as a contractor for 15 months I was invited to apply for a permanent position in the Shell Health – Environment and Product Health (EPH) team. I was successful in my application and I have now been an “official” Shell employee, working as an environmental/regulatory scientist since March 2011. The Shell Health EPH team I work in consists of US, UK and Netherlands based specialists/experts in the fields of toxicology, ecotoxicology, environmental fate and chemistry. The team is responsible for the management of health and environmental effects of shells products and global operations. My specific role in the team falls into the ecotoxicology and environmental fate/chemistry domain. More specifically my work involves the following:

  • Providing subject-matter expertise, interpreting relevant European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) technical guidance documents and applying scientific knowledge and judgement to ensure European Union (EU) REACH regulation compliance for Shells conventional/unconventional oil and chemical products.
  • Extensive and comprehensive technical review and approval of scientific studies (physical-chemical, environmental fate and ecotoxicology) used for compiling Chemical Safety Reports (CSR’s) and IUCLID dossiers/datasets during previous and ongoing EU REACH registration activities.
  • Evaluation, application and conceptual understanding of a suite of QSAR/QSPR and predictive environmental exposure/biological effects modelling techniques and software (e.g. ECETOC TRA, PETRORISK, PETROTOX, EPISUITE, CATABOL, SPARC, CAESAR, CHARM).
  • Application, awareness and understanding global/EU environmental classification regulations process for oil products and chemicals (GHS & EU CLP, DSD/DPD) to support Safety Data Sheets (SDS) authoring systems and specialised chemical regulations and requirements including EU offshore chemical legislation (OSPAR) and trading/transport regulations (MARPOL).
  • Lab-based activities include characterisation and compositional analysis of  Shell oil/chemical products using advanced analytical techniques (e.g. two-dimensional gas-chromatography) environmental fate studies (e.g. biodegradability tests) and routine visits to contract laboratories.
  • Global travelling to attend and participate in various inter-industry group meetings, scientific conferences and Shell team meetings.

Obviously, not all aspects of the work I do now do not directly relate to what I studied at University, particularly the ecotoxicology and environmental fate areas. However, a solid understanding and grounding of chemistry is at the core of these disciplines and that is where I am advantaged. The pharmacology and medicinal chemistry modules I took as part of my course also gave me a good understanding of dose-response relationships, which are at the heart of the mammalian toxicology and ecotoxicology disciplines.  The various skills and knowledge I picked up during my time at the University of Liverpool have allowed me to adapt and develop a significant understanding of a scientific discipline that lies outside my academic background and have ultimately led to my current employment with Royal Dutch Shell, one of the world’s largest, most innovative and reputable oil and gas companies.