Fiona Hartley

What is your job?

I’m an Industrial Placement student in Investigative Preclinical Toxicology. I don’t really have a ‘typical’ working day. I could be in the labs all, or part of, the day and spend the rest of my time working on research for my project.

My project for the year is based on mitochondria, important organelles which generate usable energy for the cell. You may have heard them referred to as the ‘powerhouse’ of the cell.  My project involves developing new ways to assess their health so we can determine whether our compounds are safe to develop into drugs.

How did you choose your career?

I decided I wanted a career in science just after starting my A levels, although I had been interested in science since I was young. I enjoyed science-based subjects and always wanted to learn more than just the syllabus. I particularly enjoyed biology, and so decided to study that at university with the hope of following a career into research, hopefully being involved in developing new medicines.

I undertook a BSc in Biological Sciences with an Industrial Placement at the University of Leeds and am currently in my sandwich year.

What do you like best about your job?

Learning new things: because I work in research, there isn’t a day where I don’t learn something new which will be incredibly useful when I return to finish my degree.

The variety in my job means that it’s always interesting. I like the balance between time in the lab, in the office and occasionally elsewhere. Most importantly I find the subject of my research interesting. This area has been receiving a lot more focus recently. It’s exciting to be at the forefront of science.

What’s your advice for budding scientists?

Work hard and keep a lookout for any hands-on opportunities in science. The work experience will be really important when it comes to getting a job and nothing gives you a better idea of what a career will be like than actually trying it out for yourself!


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