Milja Virtanen, Chemistry (drug discovery and development), University of Turku


What do you study and where? How did you end up studying this field?

My name is Milja Virtanen, I study chemistry at the University of Turku and I have just started my master's studies in drug development chemistry. I didn't know what I wanted to study after upper secondary school, but I had always been interested in science. During my gap year, I found out about the courses I was interested in, and in the end, chemistry was one of the study programmes I applied to. I decided to study chemistry because of the very broad, meaningful and diverse work opportunities offered by it. My studies have proved to me that I chose a field that is interesting, genuinely forward-looking and right for me.

What is it about your studies that excites you?

Chemistry studies are versatile, and chemistry is an applied science, which offers many opportunities for specialisation. The further my studies have progressed, the more my enthusiasm for chemistry has grown. Personally, I am particularly interested in drug development, where you can specialise in bioanalytical, bio-organic or radiochemistry studies. One of the best things about my studies, in my opinion, is that they open up opportunities for many different kinds of jobs. However, in contrast to professions such as being doctor or class teacher, a certain job function does not define your whole career.

If the sky was the limit, where would you like to work in the future?

I would like to be able to work for an international company that does valuable work worldwide. It would be great if my own work was universally relevant, thereby increasing well-being globally. I would also like my work to be as enjoyable as my hobbies.

Which global or everyday challenge would you like to solve with the help of chemistry/your work?

It would be great to be involved in addressing challenges related to access to medicines, especially for developing countries.

What do you think is an interesting innovation in the field of chemistry?

In my opinion, an interesting chemical innovation is the utilisation of nanoparticles in drug development, as they open up new possibilities in the transport of pharmaceutical molecules to the target, for example. RNA vaccines are also very topical and provide new ways of combating diseases.