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Developing vaccines with biochemical engineering

Dr Michael Sulu is a biochemical engineer and lecturer at UCL - he uses his skills and knowledge to work on solving the big problems around food, healthcare and energy.

Michael Sulu

My name’s Michael Sulu, and I teach biochemical engineering here at University College London.

I chose to become an engineering because I love the fact that it’s really all about problem solving and helping society.

The thing I love most about my job is working with students, that’s why I’ve chosen to stay within the education realm working at a university.

I love to see their enthusiasm and dedication to their studies. I got started in engineering by the traditional route through academia.

I did have a slightly interesting method – I first started by studying chemistry, and when I realised that chemistry was a little bit too much of one science for myself, I transitioned into engineering. I liked the fact that it’s a little bit of engineering, maths, physics and chemistry and biology.

My work makes a difference, because I work on things like trying to find ways to sustainably feed our population, and trying to find ways to power or fuel our transport system, and also looking for different methods to make new healthcare systems.

My last, most exciting project was working with a student on developing a new vaccine for pneumonia, specifically for developing world countries.

The advice I would give a young person about studying engineering is go for it. I think it’s a really worthwhile and interesting field, there’s so many different things you can do, there’s so many varieties of engineering, but there is a little bit of engineering that suits everyone.

I think the skills and qualities you require to do engineering or study engineering are – you need a some maths and physics knowledge for all the engineering disciplines, but overarching that, you need to be inquisitive.

You also need be creative, and it allows you to really focus on the skills that you when you combine those with maths and physics to enable you to solve problems for society.

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