Graduate Product Development Intern

£4,000 - 3 month internship
01 Jun 2017
30 Jun 2017
Contract Type
Full Time

CustoMem Ltd is a bioengineering start-up developing customisable membranes that target contaminants in water. CustoMem Ltd is currently offering 3 months internship for a talented Chemistry graduate, to join them as a Graduate Product Development Intern. The successful candidate will be tasked with functionalizing the surface chemistry of CustoMem’s activated media to optimize the selective adsorption of key molecules. With guidance, the intern will explore literature and produce several different chemical variants of the product, which will then be tested for selectivity and adsorption capacity.

Royal Society of Chemistry  

Salary: £4000 - 3 months internship
Working Hours: full-time
Start date: July - September 2017 
Degree / relevant disciplines: Chemistry, BSc, MChem, PhD  
Please note: only GRADUATES can be considered for this opportunity  Closing Date: 30th June 2017

About the company 

Lack of access to clean water is predicted to affect 47% of the world’s population by 2030. Contamination of water supplies by industrial micropollutants such as metal ions, pesticides and pharmaceuticals is a major contributor to this water stress. These micropollutants are persistent in the environment and dangerous to human health. A 2010 Mount Sinai study found 287 toxic micropollutants, that can be traced back to industrial usage, were found in the umbilical cord of US infants. CustoMem Ltd tackles this problem by targeted capture of micropollutants from industrial wastewater that are challenging and energy intensive to remove with current technology. We can safely repurpose the captured micropollutants into high-value products. Our products are developed using our world class expertise in wastewater treatment, biomaterials and synthetic biology from experience at Whatman, Alcan, Imperial College, Cambridge and UC Berkeley. Using our expertise, we offer customised solutions for the most problematic pollutants.

Job purpose 

Upon completion of the project, the intern will have modified CustoMem’s media using a novel chemical reaction mechanism that will have increased adsorption performance compared to previous activated medias, reduced the technoeconomic cost of the materials required to create the media all while avoiding the use of toxic or hazardous substances.

Job accountabilities 

Upon completion of this project, the intern will be expected to have completed the following: 

  • Perform a general literature review of current adsorption media chemistries employed to adsorb key molecules. 
  • Use computational chemistry programs where necessary to model the adsorption of key molecules to the functionalized medias. A screen will be developed and the top performing activated medias chosen for further testing. 
  • Design the appropriate protocols to react the chosen surface chemistries to the base activated media. The activated media will be characterized with FTIR to determine degree of substitution. In addition, SOPs, workflows and health & safety risk assessments will be documented. 
  • Testing of the optimized activated media on artificial and industrial samples. Tests will include isotherm and kinetics adsorption tests. 
  • Analysis of results will be performed using LC-MS or ICP-MS and data interpretation will be conducted using Excel.

Expected learning outcomes 

Upon successful completion of this project, the intern will have developed an insight into the research methodology required in a chemistry laboratory. This includes: 

  • Performing a literature review of existing adsorption chemistries, Devising and optimising chemical protocols to functionalize CustoMem’s base media, based on adaptations of previous methods in literature
  • Mastering critical computational chemistry programs.
  • Operating experimental machinery such as FTIR, LC-MS, ICP-MS.
  • Analysing and interpreting results to inform subsequent experiments. 

The intern will also learn to incorporate business development learnings into the experimental design and product development. By the end of this project, the intern will have learned to: 

  • Complete a technoeconomic analysis for the top performing activated medias.
  • Learn how to translate technical insights and experimental results into informing business decisions.
  • Communicate findings effectively with the team 

This project can be ideally suited to individuals in various stages in their career. It provides a solid foundation for those beginning their careers by offering training, support and insight into appropriate research methodologies and experimental design. 

This project can also be ideally suited to those interns with more advanced careers as it offers the flexibility and freedom to design one’s own experiments and draw from previous work to develop the product in any way he/she may desire. 

Working in a small start-up, the intern will have the opportunity to have an immediate impact on the direction of the company. They will be encouraged to participate in making business critical decisions that will be vital to CustoMem’s development as a business. CustoMem is open to having flexible schedules for its interns, whether it be full time or part time over a longer period.

Experience required - Essential 

  • Background in Chemistry
  • Strong problem-solving abilities and analytical skills, including data interpretation/analysis
  • Hands on experience working within a laboratory setting
  • Ability to troubleshoot instrumentation and assay problems
  • Experience in preparation of scientific reports that document analytical results

Experience required - Desirable 

  • Knowledge of adsorption principles
  • Experience in materials functionalisation or organic chemistry
  • Experience with LC-MS, ICP-MS, FTIR
  • Experience performing COSHH Risk Assessments

IT skills required - Essential 

  • Experience using MS packages, especially Word and Excel

IT skills required - Desirable 

  • Experience with computational chemistry programs, particularly molecular modelling

Transferable skills:

  • Good numerical and written skills 
  • Highly motivated and able to work independently 
  • Strong oral and written communication skills 
  • Ability and desire to work comfortably in a fast paced team setting and deliver results in line with project and team objectives 
  • Excellent interpersonal skills with an ability to work effectively in a team setting

Relevant Disciplines  GRADUATES holding Chemistry related degree. This internship is only open to:   Graduate  Postgraduates  PhD  Person returning to work after a career break 

Additional Information

Please ensure that you are willing and able to live within commutable distance of the company site before applying. This placement is located in London. Cogent Life Science Placements Service are managing the recruitment for this internship at our client's request, therefore we ask that applications are made through our website please.  

The Royal Society of Chemistry is the world’s leading chemistry community, advancing excellence in the chemical sciences. 54, 000 members and a worldwide knowledge business that spans the globe, it is the UK’s professional body for chemical scientists; a not-for-profit organisation with 175 years of history and an international vision for the future. The Royal Society of Chemistry as part of its small companies programme, EnterprisePlus ( has granted a small number of companies funding for internships for those already graduated including those returning to work. You will need to be a member of the Royal Society of Chemistry by the time you take up the internship and can join here

If you have an gross income (before tax) income below £26,000 you can access a 50% discount below per annum Membership also include significant career support including face to face or telephone career consultations