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Dr. Bora Sieng, a chemist from Arctic Pharma (to the left), is passionate about his work and hopes the pupils are too.

Having Chemistry with Chemistry

Interested pupils at Ullern Upper Secondary School arrive at laboratory 117 to learn alongside Dr. Bora Sieng, a chemist in Arctic Pharma. Dr. Sieng advocates for the importance of chemistry and encourages pupils to pursue a career in the exciting field of chemistry.

 

At nine o’clock in the morning, three boys eagerly gather outside laboratory room 117. They’re waiting for an exciting opportunity offered by the collaboration between Ullern Upper Secondary and Oslo Cancer Cluster. This opportunity provides pupils the chance to see how chemistry is used in a real-life setting (a biotech company). This allows pupils to apply what they have learned in the classroom and in their textbooks to real-life scientific problems, such as developing new therapies for diseases.

The door opens and Dr. Bora Sieng greets the students with a friendly smile and handshakes. Dr. Sieng, who has a PhD in organic chemistry and is project leader in Arctic Pharma, welcomes them in. Arctic Pharma is a small start-up company developing innovative anti-cancer drugs.

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When entering the lab, we can feel the excitement between the pupils, they are here to learn. Dr. Sieng asks the boys what level of chemistry the pupils have taken. They nervously, but excitedly respond that they haven’t taken advanced levels, but know basic organic chemistry. Thus, they’re put to work after going through some textbook examples and introductory concepts. It’s time for some chemistry cooking!

A Collaboration is Formed
Arctic Pharma relocated their chemistry laboratory temporarily to Ullern in April. Dr. Sieng has been using the laboratory since then. He offers some insight into the new collaboration between Arctic Pharma and Ullern Upper Secondary School.

– For the past few months, I have had the opportunity to carry out my work using the facilities at Ullern through Arctic Pharma’s Collaboration with the school. I feel the school collaboration is a win-win for Arctic Pharma and the pupils at Ullern. Arctic Pharma is committed to introduce pupils to organic chemistry from a company’s perspective. This provides the students with the chance to get a feel of what it is like to work in a biotech company and to see how their education can be applied.

Chemistry is Exciting
When asked why exactly the pupils should learn chemistry, Dr. Sieng responds with this:

– Organic chemistry is fascinating! It can have many applications such as drug design and development, cosmetics, material development in, for example, rubber, plastics, detergents and paints as well as production of chemicals used in agriculture, to name a few examples.

Next Generation
At Arctic Pharma, Dr. Sieng works in a team of scientists that specialize in different fields important for drug design and development. As a medicinal organic chemist, Dr. Sieng is passionate about his work, and hopes to inspire the new generation of chemists.

–  To keep Norway a world innovator, the field of chemistry is important and we especially need to nourish the next generation of chemists and scientists, hence this collaboration is also important for our country.

Essentially, we need to ensure a future for Norway that will continue to thrive, construct and further the research that will help us continue down the path of innovative discovery. Such a future can only be secured if we continue to unlock the potential that chemistry offers us; a future waiting to be unlocked by the next generation.

Esther Eriksen has experienced a lot as vice principle at Ullern Upper Secondary School. Photo: Oslo Cancer Cluster

A Constant State of Liveliness

A driving force behind the collaboration between Ullern Upper Secondary School and Oslo Cancer Cluster is stepping down. This is her adventure.

After fifteen great and productive years at Ullern Upper Secondary School, Esther Eriksen steps down from her position as vice principle in the upcoming month. Esther, who has been responsible for many various tasks in her position, has been a part of Ullern’s transformative experience alongside Oslo Cancer Cluster’s emergence in 2009 and recounts her time at Ullern.

A flourish of innovation
Esther Eriksen describes the transformation and unification of Ullern Upper Secondary School and Oslo Cancer Cluster as being a progression from a strong belief in it’s potential to a flourish of innovation.

The collaboration has become a constant state of liveliness: from pupils attending classes, to research, to teamwork and a continuous process of growth.

Since 2009, the school and the cluster, with all its member companies and institutions, has unified to produce a collaborative arena for the pupils. This is an experience Eriksen describes nothing short of “wonderful, educational and groundbreaking”.

Diversity in teamwork
– The collaborative experience is incredible due to the pupils’ ability to take in experience in regards to teamwork. Not to mention they learn how knowledge from books can be translated to hands on work and ultimately get a feel for what life has in store for them, says Eriksen.

Esther Eriksen describes her own experience as being much of the same, and stresses the notion of working as a team.

– Diversity in teamwork is really important! We see this from well-received results and happy pupils, says Eriksen.

Future potential
In regards to the future of this collaboration, Vice Principle Eriksen expresses her desire to see the school continue down the path it has set out on. She wants to see the pupils continue to learn, gain opportunities and continue to work collaboratively.

– I wish the pupils would gain further awareness of the potential this unification brings, and hope to see increased interest in teamwork as an integrity.

The best of moments
Esther Eriksen also shares what she would consider the best moments of her time at Ullern, of which these were her favorite:

  1. When the new school first opened in the Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park in 2015 – hard work finally turned to fruition
  2. Seeing how happy and motivated the pupils are when they do projects with scientists, businesses and hospitals in the cluster
  3. The emergence of vocational studies, such as electronics and health care studies, at Ullern Upper Secondary School

To conclude, Vice Principle Eriksen would like to leave the school and her colleagues this message: that she will continue to observe and follow the thriving development taking place at Ullern Upper Secondary School.

– This is only the beginning!

 

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