Professor Polly Arnold holding an f-orbital, one of the atomic
orbitals that hold the outermost electrons in
compounds made from f-block elements.

I make unusual molecules from the metals at the bottom of
the periodic table. We don’t know enough about their bonding,
and the more unusual the molecule, the better we are able
to challenge preconceptions, and improve our understanding
of their behaviours. This is important as many of the metals
are technology-critical elements that find use in wind-turbine
magnets, whilst others are present as unwanted radioactive
isotopes in spent nuclear fuel.

Professor Polly Arnold

I have always wanted to do something different. When I was younger, I was frustrated that there were so many things about chemistry that I had to memorise, rather than be able to explain from a general understanding of chemical periodicity. As I grew up, I realised that it was because no one could explain these behaviours. I find enormous satisfaction in making molecules that are not meant to exist, that do not obey the rules. These are the ones that teach us about nature, and prompt interesting collaborations. Some of these will be with spectroscopists who are trying to analyse complicated real-world systems. Others will be with computational chemists who are trying to make their models clever enough to predict the future of hard-to-handle systems such as nuclear waste.

I do a lot of my thinking when I’m completely alone, ideally on a Scottish hillside, in the cold, low-angled, winter sunshine, when I have the luxury of time to sift through everything that’s cramming my brain. This works best when my brain has been pre-filled with numerous disparate concepts and reagents from research articles from different scientific disciplines.

Polly is holding an f-orbital, one of the atomic orbitals that hold the outermost electrons in compounds made from f-block elements.

Meet Scotland’s Women in Science

I‘m an Immunologist by training and believe that fighting infection through the same or similar mechanisms which the body’s immune
I’m a Human Geneticist but there’s nothing in my past that suggests that that’s what I would become. My journey
I currently lead a major project sponsored by the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Civil Engineering Contractor, BAM Nuttall,
I am a Soft Matter and Biological Physicist, which means I study anything that wobbles when you poke it. Professor
Working as a teenage Mary Poppins on a summer ‘dude ranch’ in Texas, I found myself fearing that my brain
Transformative innovations in medicine and public health require triple helix collaborations between the NHS, academia, and industry. Professor Dame Anna
As a child, I used to sit down every week and watch Star Trek, with all its iPads, body scanners,
My greatest desire is not to be the only woman on a committee or a slate of speakers as so
I wanted to be a scientist for as long as I can remember, and I went to university to study
I am an Anatomist and a Forensic Anthropologist. By exploring the intricacies and variability of the human body, my disciplines
I am a Synthetic Chemist who, in general terms, can be described as a molecular architect. Our research focuses on
I am a Clinical Academic and have the privilege of working with patients. This offers me the opportunity to understand
I’ve always liked mathematics, even as a small child. I liked its rigour and simplicity, but I came to realise
My research involves developing the technique of surface-enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS) for multiplexed bioanalytical applications. Professor Karen Faulds Raman involves
I loved science from an early age. I loved doing experiments, loved mathematical challenges, loved problem-solving. I was fortunate to
I am an Environmental Hydrologist with a BSc in Environmental Sciences. I did a PhD in Wetland Hydrochemistry that inspired
I am a Pharmacologist and studied Pharmacology at Edinburgh University, both for my BSc and PhD. I was always interested
I have a natural curiosity for knowledge, so research and university are natural fits for me. I came to Scotland
I was born in Dundee and grew up in Ireland in a family of scientists. My parents were scientists involved
I’ve always been interested in biology. I was that child who got the frog spawn out of the pond and
I make unusual molecules from the metals at the bottom ofthe periodic table. We don’t know enough about their bonding,and
I am an Engineer who works in academia. I was the first woman to be Professor of Chemical Engineering in
I was Professor of Dermatology at the University of Glasgow 1978–2000, the first time in its 500-year history that a
I am an Applied Statistician. I develop new methods and techniques for analysing different types of data, particularly in the
Although I was always interested in science at school back in Liverpool, my first aim in life was to be
I’m an Experimental Physicist. I carry out research designing and building instrumentation for observatories that have detected the first gravitational