A FORMER Burnley student has become a doctor of nuclear chemistry after completing a study of rare radioactive metals.
Tamara Lloyd Griffiths (26) spent four years conducting research on radioactive elements such as uranium and plutonium for her thesis at the University of Manchester,
The gifted 26-year-old, who went to St Hilda’s RC Girls High School, was whisked away to America where she studied among top level scientists at the Idaho National Laboratory.
Experts at the flagship federal nuclear testing facility were so impressed by Tamara’s research that she was permitted to perform experiments on the rare radioactive element Curium.
Her dad Alan, who lives in Burnley, said: “She was looking into uranium and plutonium at the start. She was researching their properties. They are very well researched elements.
“It was while she was at Idaho that they realised they had stumbled on someone a little above the average. They allowed her to work on an element called curium.
“They were very impressed with her research work. They allowed her to carry out research work using small amounts of curium. It costs around £100,000 for a pin-head sized amount.
“When she came home the Americans said she was the youngest person ever to have worked with curium. She says it is fun working with it. She says uranium and plutonium are boring.”
During her four-year PhD she also worked at the Sellafield nuclear power plant in Cumbria which processes nuclear waste.
She returned home to be awarded her doctorate and is now working at the Centre for Radiochemistry Research in Manchester where she hopes to conduct further research into the frontier nuclear science.
Retired coal board engineer Alan said: “Tamara was always very bright. Her A-Level chemistry teacher saw something in her. He saw her as a natural chemist. He even described her as ‘the face of chemistry’.
“It has taken her eight long years to get here. But her journey is only just beginning. We are incredibly proud of her.”
Tamara now hopes to continue conducting research in her elite scientific field.
Alan said: “She wants to be a front-line researcher. She wants to carry on and make some great discoveries. She will be chasing the holy grail of the nuclear industry which is the neutralisation of plutonium waste.”