Katie takes the long road to agriculture doctorate
How much is it possible to fit into one lifetime? That’s a question that we’d love to pose to our latest intern Katie Dubarry.
Katie, coming to us from SRUC, will undertake a doctorate at the Roslin Institute supervised by Dr Emily Clark and Prof. Mike Coffey (SRUC), as part of an EASTBio CASE PhD studentship that we are partly funding. Her speciality in animal health is one of the key pillars of Roslin Tech’s business. Katie will be looking at variants in the genome of sheep to help tackle important diseases such as Johne’s disease, which causes long-term health degradation in the animals. She’s particularly interested in gene expression in different animals, with a view to determining which sheep are best equipped genetically to overcome these illnesses. The aim is to provide information that can be used in selective breeding programmes to improve the health and productivity of sheep flocks.
For anyone, that would be interesting enough, but Katie arrived in animal health research after a decade in another career in another country – she spent her 20s training and working as a beauty therapist in the southwest of France, to where her family had relocated in her teens.
The differences aren’t as marked as on first consideration, Katie says – while studying for three years for her initial qualification, she was deeply interested in the science of the human skin. And the transition into agricultural science was based on long held principles:
“I wanted to help people to live more sustainably, and to help produce food for people,” she said.
So with no experience or background in animal health – her father worked in oil and gas and her mum came from a family of Strathclyde shipbuilders – she attended an open day at SRUC which led to her studying for a national certificate, which progressed to a degree. She’s now working at the cutting edge of science, alongside some of the most experienced AgTech scientists in the world.
As part of the programme Katie will have the opportunity to experience first-hand R&D in an industry setting through an internship at our company. We’re excited to welcome Katie to the team where she’ll work alongside our senior geneticist Dr Alfredo Lepori on bespoke breeding programmes and with leading stem cell scientist, Dr Joe Mee to learn skills and techniques complimentary to her PhD interests. Katie will also interact with our commercial team to gain insights to the translation of innovative science to industry.
Katie’s story speaks to many of the values that we espouse at Roslin Tech: as scientists, we continually question our assumptions and ideas and that’s promoted by diversity of background and interests. The tenacity just to do something different is something we hugely admire. Furthermore, Katie’s broad expertise in dealing face-to-face – literally – with customers is another key ingredient for any scientist promoting their discoveries, especially in a commercial setting.
We’re very lucky to have her on board!