Rebecca completed a BSc (Hons) in Microbiology at the University of Aberdeen in 2008. She is now employed as a Graduate Research Associate at North Wyke Research, Devon.
I was inspired to study microbiology at university as I really enjoyed the hands-on microbiology practical classes at my secondary school. During my degree programme, I was extremely fortunate to secure a ten-week summer vacation studentship funded by the Society for Applied Microbiology (SfAM) at the Institute for Grassland and Environmental Research (IGER). The summer studentship helped me to develop a real interest in scientific research and I also found the experience helped a lot during my final year honours project, which was an important feature of my degree.
In my current post I contribute to a wide variety of research projects which involves travelling to farms, collecting and analysing samples, and discussing findings with my line manager. I conduct investigations into the interactions between soil, microbes, plants, animals, water and the atmosphere within grassland-dominated landscapes. My work is extremely varied and involves microbiological and chemical analysis of soil, air and water and involves both laboratory work and field-based studies.
I was keen to secure a graduate microbiology post after completing my degree. My degree provided me with not only the subject knowledge and appropriate laboratory skills to do this, but I also inadvertently acquired a wide range of employability skills during my studies. I was able to demonstrate skills such as good communication, the ability to work as part of a team and IT experience, all of these were developed during my undergraduate studies. My work experience at IGER also enabled me to have practical experience of the collection and analysis of data and the skills required for field work. I certainly believe that my summer studentship and the relevant work experience helped me to stand out from the crowd, and secure this competitive research position. In addition to this, my summer studentship encouraged me to network informally with scientists and provided me with a real insight to get started in my career.
I feel I have gained in confidence since undertaking my graduate research associate post, enabling me to liaise with a diverse range of people, including high profile scientists Other important qualities I have developed during this post are the ability to work in a team and the capacity to use my initiative when required. Working in a laboratory has also enhanced my knowledge of health and safety practices and the ability to diagnose and remedy routine problems with laboratory equipment. I find this an especially useful skill in a busy laboratory environment. Overall, I really enjoy my microbiology job as the work is extremely varied, no two days are the same. I particularly enjoy the field work, weather permitting!
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