Graduate profile
View over the lake on campus

Lea Santu

"I was culturally rich because of my exposure to different lifestyles and that has helped to shape my future career choices."


Medicinal Chemistry

Graduation year


Study abroad location


What subject did you study at the University of Surrey and what year did you graduate?

I studied for an MChem in Medicinal Chemistry and graduated on the 19th of July 2012.

What were the best things about your course?

My course was very versatile, allowing me to broaden my understanding regarding the concept of drug design and delivery in chemistry and pharmacology. Consequently, I was able to attend lessons with chemists and other biological scientists.

Why did you decide to take an Erasmus study/work abroad exchange?

The Erasmus work abroad exchange was a very important component in my degree program. Work experience in the UK is great but it is even better to gain European exposure on the work ethic in other countries. And to add the professional benefits, there are cultural and personal benefits that the placement year in the UK was unable to deliver. The Erasmus exchange provided a sure path to my adventure as an international scientist.

Where did you go and what did you do on the Erasmus scheme?

I went to Germany (Worms, Rhineland) to work for Grace Davison, a fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) and additives manufacturing. I worked as part of the R&D program in the development of new rare earth free catalysts.

How did your Erasmus experience help you develop personally or professionally during your time as a Surrey student, and has this influenced your choice of career?

Erasmus provided the safety net that was needed for a smooth experience in my placement year.

I was able to use my grant to travel across Germany and the neighbouring countries such as Switzerland, The Netherlands, Sweden, France and Belgium. I was culturally rich because of my exposure to different lifestyles and that has helped to shape my future career choices.

What do you do now and what do you find most enjoyable about your line of work?

I am doing my Post-Doctoral research at the University of Nottingham at the school of Chemistry. 

I love the fact that my research has huge potential in improving life- making a difference in the future of medicine and formulation sciences.

How can students hoping to work in your profession make the most of their time at Surrey?

Surrey is one of the best universities in the UK for physical sciences subjects such as chemistry. It offers the opportunity to experience life in industry. This is key to training excellent future scientists. The professional exposure provides clear guidance for future career choices, eliminating preconceived ideas regarding work places, dealing head-on with false expectations. Given that the University provides the opportunity for professional training, it would be a waste not to do a placement or exchange. There is plenty of support from the school and student services so make the most of it.

What advice would you give to current students thinking about a study/work abroad placement?

To seriously consider studying or working abroad. It was one of the best times of my degree program, I had lots of fun. I was experiencing growth and maturity at a different level. Not only did I have a year in industry but I also visited many European country at very low cost and formed lasting friendship with the people that I met both in Germany and other European countries that I had visited. I graduated as a well-rounded individual.