What do you do for a living? 

Scientist at Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh


How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction? 

Enjoyed Science at school. Chose a degree in Biochemistry. Careers advice was limited at this stage.


What was your journey to reach the role you are in today? 

Studied Biochemistry & Immunology at University of Strathclyde. Chose Strathclyde because my brother went there before me and it was nearest to home. (told you I didn’t have much careers advice). Didn’t know to try and find out which University was best for the subject I was interested in.

Finished 4 year honours degree and looked at options. With an honours degree it basically came down to a choice of a job in industry (Pharmaceutical companies  Research & Development) or as a technician/research assistant within an academic laboratory. Without a postgraduate qualification options are limited as is career progression. On that basis I took a position that gave me the option to study for a PhD within the Medical School at the University of Aberdeen. PhD took 3 years to complete. I then took up a post-doctoral position at the MRC Human Genetics Unit in Edinburgh. Obtained a Fellowship from the Wellcome Trust which gave me the opportunity to develop my own independent research program. Subsequently obtained a position at the Roslin Institute.


Talk me through a day in your life... what sorts of things would it involve?

These days I get little opportunity to work in the lab. My job now mostly involves directing research staff within my group, writing new funding proposals, preparing manuscripts for publication in scientific journals, supervising postgraduate students enrolled in Masters of PhD programs within the University and some teaching of undergraduate students studying to be Vets.


Was it your planned career when you were 18? 

I had no real idea when I was 18. All I knew by then to my disappointment was that I wasn’t good enough to be professional footballer!!


What did your mum and dad want you to do? 

Probably to be a Priest!


What advice would you give to someone interested in your career? 

Look for opportunities for work experience in research labs during school holidays and if you have an idea of what subjects you are interested in then find which universities have good reputation in that subject. Visit departments on open days.


What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen? 

Other options would have been to work in the Pharmaceutical Industry either in research or as a clinical research associate who helps liase with medics to run clinical trials of new drugs/therapies. Other options are to work in Scientific publishing or increasingly in the area of public understanding of science and public engagement. One other possibility might be in the area of Patent law and intellectual property.