Case study

Biotechnologist — Guy Trimby

After graduating with an MRes in Applied Marine Science, Guy has worked for a year as a biotechnologist at Protein Technologies and The University of Exeter

What does your role at the University of Exeter involve?

I am responsible for supporting various research projects within the lab, performing colony polymerase chain reaction (PCR) experiments and cloning to gel extractions. I've been involved in a project expressing transport proteins and lead a research project on the horizontal gene transfer of marine eukaryotes, which could be used as a new protocol for future biotechnological experiments.

How did you get your job?

I saw the position at Protein Technologies advertised during my Masters but, having applied for a PhD, I was unable to start on the proposed date. I instead contacted the university and asked if my skills could be used elsewhere, which resulted in me landing a short-term contract as a biotechnologist at the Living Systems Institute.

What's a typical working day like?

I'll have days where I spend time researching the best approach for my next experiment before spending roughly two hours in the lab preparing for the 10-hour days in the laboratory where the experiments are conducted.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy the diversity. Biotechnology is inherently multi-disciplinary, using various techniques and disciplines to trouble shoot your way towards solving a problem. I enjoy working in the nurturing and supportive environment of a university and I've learnt a great deal.

What have been your challenges?

On a short-term contract, it can be difficult to prove your ability to senior staff members and achieve progress in a relatively short time.

In what way are your degree and Masters relevant?

The transition from undergraduate degree to Masters was very big however completing my studies made the move into employment a lot easier. Studying for an MRes in Applied Marine Science covered many of the theories and practical disciplines needed to work in biotechnology, and I developed the skills required to meet the needs of my current job by completing a research project as part of the degree.

How has your role developed?

In my first month, I supported a variety of projects and my familiarity of the procedures enabled me to work quickly and efficiently. The combination of my work ethic and relevant skills meant I could lead the horizontal gene transfer project for the remainder of the contract.

What is your career ambition?

I have been accepted onto a PhD at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) which is associated with the University of Highlands and Islands. My project will focus on how marine polysaccharides could be used to treat and suppress human diseases. The Scottish biotechnology industry is growing rapidly and my career ambition is to make a valuable contribution to the advancement of Scottish marine science, which I feel this PhD will help me achieve this goal.

What advice can you give others wanting a career in this field?

The more diverse your skills are, the more you will attract potential employers. Also, making contacts is critical. My first graduate job came from contacting employers while still completing my masters' research project. I'd recommend being proactive in making speculative applications and be willing to accept short-term contracts.

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