About CSci

  • Averil Horton
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Averil Horton
Featured Profile: 
At A Glance
Licensed Body: 
First Degree: 
BSc Chemistry
Pet Hates: 
Over zealous health and safety advice preventing children from developing their own understanding of risk
Burning Ambition: 
Find a free lock-up garage for all my science club equipment, as it has outgrown my shed.
Big Picture
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 
A scientist. I got my first chemistry set when I was 6 years old, and remember pestering my mother to be able to do experiments on boxing day. Even before that, I remember mixing kitchen materials up in a saucepan and heating them to see what would happen. I also froze things to see if it made any difference. There was for many years a purple stain in my mothers sink from when I used potassium permanganate in my experiments. When at secondary school, I helped out at an open day – doing the exploding hydrogen demonstration. I let rather too much hydrogen into the flask, and got a much bigger bang than I, or those watching, expected. Scary but GOOD! I also wanted to make a linear induction motor (which requires 3-phase current – rather dangerous stuff), and discovered that the school actually had a 3-phase current supply. I could not understand why the physics teacher did not think it a good idea! My interest in ‘demonstration’ chemistry began when I was a post graduate at university. I was taught to make dry ice bombs by fellow students and how to explode hydrogen filled balloons on the ceiling by my supervisor! And some other antics that are perhaps best not reported here…
Who or what inspired you to become a scientist? 
Don’t know, just am a scientist through and through.
What qualifications did you take at school? 
A level maths physics and chemistry
Why did you choose your first degree subject? 
Chemistry as I loved it
Do you have a Masters or PhD? If not, was it difficult to demonstrate Masters-level equivalence in order to achieve CSci? 
Yes, have a PhD
How do you describe your job when you meet people at a party? 
I work with research institutions to help identify discoveries that can be turned into products that people will use and buy
How is your job cross-disciplinary? 
I deal with technologies from all parts of science, - from quantum mechanics, to biotech, to engineering
What’s the biggest achievement of your career so far? 
Spotting a new technology at the very early stage – it is now a spin out company
Would you say you have a good standard of living/ work-life balance? 
What do your friends and family think about your job? 
I tell them that I am like the dragons in dragons den, only without the money to back up my decisions!
What kind of hobbies or extracurricular activities do you do to relax? 
Children (!), trampolining.
Why did you choose to apply for CSci and what do you value most about being a Chartered Scientist? 
Helps give officials etc confidence when I start to run science club sessions
What is the value of professional bodies? 
Keep members updated and on their toes. Ensure integrity and responsibility in their members. Represent members professional interests at national/government level as appropriate. Contribute to public understanding of the subject. Provide support in areas where it is needed and lacking. Publicise the subject to those who may go into it during their career.
How important is CPD? What do you think of the revalidation process in ensuring that CSci is a mark of current competence? 
Very important, but must not be too constrained, and I sometimes feel it should be normal/automatic – an inherent part of professional life, rather than something I have to fill in forms to demonstrate. I have some concerns that revalidation next time will be more difficult, as I will have got to the ‘consolidation’ stage with much of my science club work (and paid work), which may make it difficult for me to demonstrate updated competence as it may not be relevant; maintenance of standards may be more relevant.
Advice & Reflection
What words of wisdom would you give someone interested in getting into your field? 
Get broad experience in all parts of the commercial process, especially sales and marketing. Realise that R&D is fun and interesting, but only a very small part of any final product that results.
How would you define “professionalism”? 
Integrity, doing a job properly at all times, sticking up for the right thing even when others want to ignore it, doing your best at all times. Realising that it is your responsibility to ensure this happens, and that you must do it irrespective of whether anyone else is observing or even notices. Taking responsibility for all that you do, including keeping aware of what is happing in your own, and related fields
What would you do differently if you were starting out in your career now? 
Not much!
What would you like people to remember about your life as a scientist? 
Enabled 9 year olds to burn magnesium, explode hydrogen, and make ice cream using liquid nitrogen
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