Colour Synthesis Solutions’ Women in Science – Lizzie Boreham  

Meet Lizzie Boreham, a Research Chemist at Colour Synthesis Solutions (CSS) for the past six years!  

We are putting the digital spotlight on Lizzie in the fourth and final installment of our series CSS Women in Science. 

We rely on a team of creative, research-driven problem solvers who have unparalleled expertise in chemistry and the application of business colour. Our Women in Science feature will peer beyond the traditional job description and provide extra insight about these valuable members of the CSS team.  

We asked Lizzie to answer these questions:  

  1. Where did you go to school?  

earned my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at the University of Manchester – once I got here, I didn’t manage to leave – it’s a really fun city to live in and you can easily escape to the hills.  

2. What made you choose chemistry?   

I like doing practical things, messing around trying to get things to work in the lab rather than sitting at a desk all day.   

There’s a lot of beauty in chemistry, coming in to find crystals have grown overnight or seeing colour-changes in reactions (it’s less appealing when your reaction turns into a black tar). Making colours feels a bit like doing magic.   

I think I wanted to do something useful, and since chemistry is involved in everything you can think of, it seemed like good bet.  

I didn’t really consider gender inequality when choosing chemistry although I have since become aware of the problem – the RSC did a big study a couple of years ago, lack of diversity is a real issue in our discipline

3. Favourite type of project you have worked on?  

Most interesting to me is when we learn something new about the structure-property relationships of the dyes we synthesize, how the shape of the molecule and the types and position of the groups attached influence the colour or other optical properties of the dye.   

4.How has CSS helped achieve some of your goals? 

I’ve learned so much since I’ve worked here! I didn’t really think of myself as a synthetic organic chemist when I started, as that wasn’t the main focus of my PhD (academic groups can be quite tribal and the ‘organic’ and ‘inorganic’ chemists don’t always mix!) But after 6 years I suppose I can’t really dodge it.   

As well as the technical aspects of the job, also learning to trust my judgment in how to approach the work and also to be resilient and keep trying when things don’t work.   

5. What is your favourite colour and why?  

Hmmmm. I don’t make greens very often for some reason so when I make a green dye that’s a nice change!   

I seem to have a lot of ‘teal’ things at the moment, sort of green-blue. Possibly because the manufacturers of women’s cycling apparel decided it’s an appropriate alternative to pink, or maybe I’m drawn to it and now everything I own is that colour. Now I think about it I’ve also painted my bathroom that colour