Name: Becky Edgar

Age: 31

City/town: Wellington

What’s your job? Microbiologist in the Biotechnologies group at Callaghan Innovation.

How did you get into this line of work? I developed an interest in science during intermediate and this continued through high school. Once I reached university in Dunedin the world of microbiology was truly opened up to me. I loved all the fascinating things that bacteria, fungi and viruses get up to and we are completely unaware of it happening all around us. 

Following on from my BSc, I did a PhD at VUW and postdoctoral research over in the US at Kentucky University. During these years I discovered what incredible tools bacteria could be, they don’t just make us sick. I knew that I wanted to focus on harnessing the weird and wonderful things that bacteria do to help develop new medicines, nutritional supplements, food and drink, smarter fertilisers, and better ways to clean up our environment.  

What does a typical working day look like for you? At Callaghan Innovation we provide research and development services for businesses to help them make an impact on a global scale. In a typical day I may be coming to grips with a client’s problem in the biotech space, performing critical research to improve their product or develop their ideas, or providing advice that they can apply to their processes.

What qualifications or training did you need? I started with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from the University of Otago. To really go far in the world of biotechnology it is key to do further study, either a master’s or a PhD.

What are the best bits about your job? The best bit is the variety, I never know what interesting project will turn up. I can be working on a new drink one day and an pharmaceutical the next. The feedback you get when you’ve successfully helped clients overcome a hurdle is awesome!

What are the worst bits? Being able to quickly come to grips with a new biotech field and chopping and changing between these projects throughout the day.

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