Rebecca Douglas is a Reseach Scientist with livestock diagnostics company Biotangents
Midlothian Science Zone talks with Rebecca Douglas, Research Scientist
Rebecca Douglas, graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a First-class degree in BSc Hons Biotechnology followed by a Masters with the University of Strathclyde.
Hosted by Biotangents for two internships, Rebecca is completing a 10-week industrial placement with Biotangents and has been offered full-time employment on completion.
What has been your career path?
I discovered my passion for biotechnology in my last year at Kinross High School where I undertook the Scottish Science Baccalaureate. During this course, I designed and conducted my own experiments with the aim of developing affordable and easy-to-use treatments for Crown Gall disease, which incurs substantial economic losses around the world.
At the age of 17, I began to study Biotechnology at the University of Edinburgh, and four years later graduating with a First-class degree in BSc Hons Biotechnology and achieved an 80% in my dissertation which investigated modifications of the CRISPR-Cas system.
In the summers of my third and fourth years, I had the exciting opportunity to work with Biotangents on a 12-week internship which developed my research, laboratory and bioinformatics skills, amongst others.
I decided to pursue an MSc in Industrial Biotechnology with the University of Strathclyde to gain an additional qualification to propel me forwards in the world of work. During this period, I received an offer from Biotangents to work part-time with them alongside my Masters on both laboratory work and bioinformatics. Whilst this was a substantial commitment and required careful time-management and additional work-load, this opportunity provided me with valuable experience alongside my studies.
As part of my Masters with the University of Strathclyde, we were expected to complete a 10-week industrial placement on a specific project, forming the basis of our thesis. Biotangents offered me not only a 10-week project with them, but also a full-time employment contract when I finish my Masters in August 2022.
What work does Biotangents do and what is your role?
Biotangents are currently developing rapid early diagnostics for the detection of various diseases in cattle, combining laboratory, bioinformatics and commercial know-how. Biotangents have recently grown to have 20 employees and also recently received funding of £2.2 million from investors.
I am currently working on my Masters project within the company which mainly involves laboratory and commercial work, and I recently became a full-time employee at Biotangents as a Research Scientist. Outside of my project, I help to work on both the lab and bioinformatics side, and am looking to gain a deeper understanding of the commercial side of biotechnology too.
What are your career achievements and highlights so far?
Despite the high workload of studying for a full-time Masters and working part-time at Biotangents, I was able to achieve a grade A across all eight taught MSc modules for the academic year, which accounts for two thirds of my final degree mark.
In my first internship with Biotangents in 2020, my project involved investigating potential modifications to Biotangents’ Moduleic Sensing technology. I determined a significant modification needing to be made to their technology to simplify the interpretation of results of their assay.
Throughout my time with Biotangents, several suggestions I have made have been incorporated by the company to help develop certain protocols.
Being offered part-time and then full-time employment with Biotangents during my Masters was both exciting and rewarding, reflecting the hard work I have put in whilst working with the company.
What are you focused on at the moment and what are your future plans?
I'm currently focused on my thesis and industrial project within Biotangents, as my findings of this project aims to benefit Biotangents commercially, as well as end-users of Biotangents’ products in general.
I am looking to continue to learn as part of working for a biotechnology company, and to continue to develop key skills in industry.
What are the benefits for you of working within a ‘park’ environment?
I am passionate about developing new ideas, research and products that can have a beneficial impact on the world. This is what has motivated me to work hard and because of this, I have really enjoyed working in a science and innovation park environment.
I have found that collaboration is key to most projects, as having input from others with different backgrounds can provide useful insight and direction when navigating trickier parts of a project.
What do you enjoy most about working in Midlothian?
I like knowing that my work and contribution is making a difference to not only Biotangents but also to those that will use the products of Biotangents.
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