Nikola Zotev

MChem Phys Chemical Physics with Industrial Experience and PhD in Computational Chemistry 2016 and 2020

Your Time at the University

I have spent 9 years at the School of Chemistry. I enrolled as an undergraduate chemistry student back in 2011 straight after high school. At this age I did not know a lot of things, but I did know that the University of Edinburgh is a prestigious institution, Edinburgh is a true cradle of science and technology, a place full of history, and that Scotland is a welcoming country.

I have always wanted to combine my passions for computers and chemistry. The University of Edinburgh offered me a flexible degree structure which allowed me to achieve just that. I spent my first two years taking courses in chemistry and informatics, and it was later when I finally settled on a more permanent track towards a degree in Chemical Physics. Ever since I made this choice, I have always been proud to be a part of this small but cohesive group of students. The undergraduate degree in Chemical Physics equipped me with superb critical thinking, problem-solving capacity, and ability to tackle hard-to-solve problems.

Nikola Zotev

The School was proactive in encouraging me to apply for funding for extracurricular research projects. In combination with my Industrial Placement year, they were a great asset to my CV. I can confidently say that my undergraduate degree gave me a competitive advantage in the job market.

During my final year as an undergraduate the School nominated me for the prestigious Carnegie Trust PhD Scholarship - an act of recognition that became the reason for continuing my studies at Edinburgh at a postgraduate level. As a PhD student in Computational Chemistry, I was involved in a cutting-edge multidisciplinary research field and I worked closely with experimentalists from Brown and Stanford universities. I also joined the School’s public engagement team, where I took an active part in the School’s effort to connect to the local communities and popularise science. This was really a lot of fun.

Your Experiences Since Leaving the University

The University has taught me a lot. One of the things I value the most is creativity and non-standard approach to complex problems. I believe these skills are highly-sought after in industry. Using my extensive experience in analysis of numerical data and using computer models to simulate real-life systems, after the end of my PhD I have started a job as a Simulation Analyst at Ocado Technology. While not related to chemistry, the skills I developed during my studies in Edinburgh have been a great asset to my current work.

Alumni Wisdom

The University of Edinburgh is truly a great place, it’s really up to you to make the best use of it. Be proactive, brave and ambitious and do not expect that you will be spoon-fed knowledge and experience. Try to find your own unique path through the University by doing the things you enjoy the most, whether that’s a particular direction of studies, extracurricular activities, scientific writing or sports. It will all pay off at the end.