What is your current Job Title or Role?
MPharmacol student on placement as part of the antibiotic resistant pathogens group at Plymouth University, and Paramedic with South Western Ambulance Service
What advice would you have for young women who are interested in a STEM career or job?
Try to get experience and insight into your area of interest. When it comes to studying and working in your chosen field you will have far more motivation, and will find it far more interesting if you have chosen a field that is right for you. School grades are not the be all and end all of life. A passion and genuine interest in a subject is far more important. If you don't get the grades you need for your chosen subject, don't give up. Go and get some work experience, pursue your interest in other ways, and come back to study later on. Going to university as an older student has many advantages, and you can approach your chosen field with a different viewpoint to others.
How did you get to where you are today?
At school I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I knew I had an interest in science so chose to study all 3 sciences at A level, but there was nothing specific that appealed to me enough to study it at university. I then trained as a Paramedic as I knew I would enjoy the challenge that it presented, as well as working with people. During my training I developed a particular interest in pharmacology, but I found that a lot of the literature was inaccessible to someone of my level of education. I was also surprised that there was little evidence to support the use of many drugs I was expected to administer to patients. I therefore decided to study pharmacology at university to further my understanding of the subject and pursue this interest. During the course I developed a particular interest in antimicrobial resistance, so decided to do my research project in this area during my placement year. I still work part time as a Paramedic, and I feel that it helps to contextualise the research that I do, and understand its importance.
What do you do on a daily basis in your work?
I am following a process to isolate an antimicrobial compound that is being produced by a bacteria. It kills several bacterial species, so has the potential to be used as an antibiotic. My job is to isolate it, then try to identify what it is and how it works.
Who or what inspired you to get into STEM?
Working as a Paramedic made me appreciate how good quality scientific research can benefit people's lives. I wanted to contribute to this research and therefore provide evidence to support the development and delivery of new treatments to people for years to come.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I enjoy the fact that I genuinely don't know how my research will pan out. I follow processes described in the literature, but working with an unknown compound means I never know exactly what will happen. It is exciting to think that I might be working on something that could be used as a drug in the future, particularly an antibiotic, as antimicrobial resistance is one of the biggest threats to human health globally.
What do you like to do outside work?
I enjoy kayaking, and have been a coach for my local club since the age of 16. I am also a Guide leader, so help to run a Guide unit each week. Having hated running at school, I have now had a change of heart and have taken up trail running. I particularly enjoy being able to run along the coast path.