Richard Friend

Favourite Thing: Blow peoples’ minds with how things work!



Pembroke Comprehensive (1994-2001), Bath University (2001-2005)


Masters degree in Chemistry

Work History:

Botanix in Paddock Wood, Kent, GSK in Dartford, Kent, and now Intertek Melbourn in Cambridgeshire

Current Job:

Principle Scientist


Intertek Melbourn

About Me

I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up!

I’ve been living in Cambridgeshire for the last 5 years now, I was in Kent before that, was in Uni in Bath and grew up in Wales – sometimes I feel like I don’t really belong anywhere! When I’m not in the lab I play guitar, and have been in a few bands now, but only because I like doing it, not for the money – I think you’ve got to either be amazingly talented or just really lucky to make it.

I like travelling, and have been to a few countries, but I’ve only been out of Europe once when a group of us went to India. Everything’s so different out there I spent most of my time being amazed at what must be some fairly average stuff to the locals. I try to learn some of the local language when I go somewhere, and besides learning Welsh and German at school (of which I can’t really remember much) I’ve tried to learn some Slovak and some Spanish as well. There are a couple of Polish people at work who teach me a few phrases – it’s good to know people who can help you out for free!

I’ve got two rabbits at home, it seemed like a good idea to outsource mowing the lawn to two balls of fluff. Most of my family lives in the West Country, so I don’t get to see them very often but I try and get down there as much as I can. They’re all farmers so me being a scientist is a bit of a departure from that! I get to help out when I visit though, I grew up with a lot of animals around so I like messing about with the horses and cattle.

My Work

I invent methods for testing medicines, mostly inhalers.

I work for a laboratory where we test all kinds of different medicines, from pills to protein bars and inhalers to injection solutions. A lot of the things that we test are being made by other companies, and we check to make sure that what they’re making is OK. We need methods to be able to test these medicines though, and that’s where I step in – I help to make the methods so we can do the testing, as well as doing the testing itself, and helping everyone else to do it too!

My Typical Day

There isn’t one! Every day is different! That’s why I love it.

As a lot of the things that we work with are completely different, no two days are the same, but any given day might contain:

Testing medicines;

Making methods for testing medicines;

Checking that the methods work so that we can test the medicines using the methods;

Fixing the machines that we use!

Analysing all of the data that we make;

Writing up all of the experiments and tests that we do.

What I'd do with the money

I’d like to see if I could get some demonstrations done in local schools showing them what chemistry can do!

I’d like to either perform some demonstrations, or maybe work with some demonstrators to show children about what the real world of chemistry is like – this way I can combine getting people interested in chemistry with actually being able to see the good work being done in the field. It’s pretty difficult to get a grasp of what it is that we do most of the time as the stuff they show on the TV isn’t really representative. I think that’d be pretty fun.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Compelling, motivating and enthusiastic!

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Right now, Ed Solo.

What's your favourite food?

Anything Italian.

What is the most fun thing you've done?

A fun run around Cambridge dressed as a minion. Never seen so many people so happy to see me!

What did you want to be after you left school?

A vet, but I changed my mind a lot. I still don’t really know what I want to be when I grow up.

Were you ever in trouble at school?

Sometimes! Apparently it’s not a good idea to start a Mexican wave in the classroom. Who knew.

What was your favourite subject at school?

All the sciences. I still like finding out about how things work.

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

Work on life-saving medicine. It’s nice to think I’ve helped someone, even in a tiny way.

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

My teachers at school.

If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?

No idea! Guitarist maybe?

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

To be able to wake up in the morning without coffee, to be able to speak a foreign language properly, and a sandwich. I might get the sandwich.

Tell us a joke.

Tried taking the shells off of my racing snails to make them faster, but it just made them sluggish!

Other stuff

Work photos:

My lab’s on Google! Take a tour by following the link below.,0.0154376,3a,75y,123h,90t/data=!3m8!1e1!3m6!1sHOXm6uMNijAAAAQq3tnxvQ!2e0!3e2!!7i13312!8i6656!4m2!3m1!1s0x0000000000000000:0x915a390233f0ea83!6m1!1e1