Kirsty is a Technician and Laboratory Manager (3rd floor) in the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB). She ensures that the laboratory runs efficiently and safely, providing training in equipment and research techniques, looking after Health and Safety compliance and supporting research grants and projects in the Colorectal Cancer Research laboratory.
Kirsty also participates in public engagement in CCRCB, providing laboratory tours, and open days.
What does an average day look like for you?
The nice thing about my position is that every day is very different. One day I may spend most of my time teaching and training students and staff in Flow cytometry, the next day, I might be trying to repair equipment or working on a research project.
I am often the trouble shooter in the lab, trying to help make experiments work and optimise new methods and techniques.
All while ensuring the lab is stocked up with reagents and consumables and running in good order.
In the past year I have been involved with optimising a new technology using a robotic liquid handler, to assist with the sequencing of a large samples set of patients samples – this has been exciting and challenging!
What is the best bit about your role?
The diversity of the staff and students. I have worked with so many wonderful people in my time at Queen's and our Centre, especially, has such a friendly supportive atmosphere.
It feels like an exciting time to be a Technician in Queen's.
In the past year, I have become a member of the Faculty MHLS Technician Committee and got involved in the University Technician Steering Group, as we address the Technician Commitment – a UK initiative aiming to ensure visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability for technicians working in education and research, across all disciplines. This has provided a wonderful opportunity to meet so many of the talented technicians we have in Queen's and to form new friendships.
What are the challenges?
There rarely feels like enough hours in the working day, but I'm definitely never bored.
Technicians are often the ones setting up and carrying out exciting, interesting experiments to help discover more about the world and how to make it a better place. What impact is the findings of the researchers you support having on people's lives?
I have been working in cancer research for 14 years this summer, and the progress I have seen in that time is remarkable.
The researchers in our laboratory have led European Clinical trials and completed extensive and successful drug discovery projects, directly impacting cancer patients' lives.
I have also contributed towards multiple peer reviewed publications which are essential to continue to improve the understanding of cancer and possible new therapeutic targets.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love live music; I'm happiest with a beer in hand watching a band, especially all the local musical talent we have here in Belfast.
What is the best advice you've ever received?
My old boss, Professor Paddy Johnston, would remind our research group that to be able to work in cancer research is privilege, and we are here to improve patients' lives.
He was a very inspiring man, scientist and clinician, and very much missed.
What is your favourite app?
Instagram – it's great for following artists, photographers, musicians and friends.
What are you currently reading?
The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris – a fascinating and devastating read.
What are you most proud of?
I have really enjoyed training and interacting with students at the beginning of their careers in research.
I'm very proud to be training the next generation of talented researchers.