Wild about wild interview.....
Dr Kate Waddams
Kate is an inspiring scientist currently working on some fascinating research. Following on from a zoology degree, Kate completed her PhD and is now working as a Post-doctorate research associate at Aberystwyth University.
Wild About Wild : What inspired you to pursue a career in Science?
K: I really enjoyed my undergraduate dissertation project and wanted to remain in scientific research as a result. Having applied for many research-based jobs, unsuccessfully, I ended up applying for a PhD programme, which I was accepted on to. My work since has followed on from there.
WAW: What did your PhD focus on?
K :My PhD focused on manipulating the microbial populations of the developing rumen in young ruminants, with the aim of mitigating methane emissions over a sustained period of time. This was with the goal of enhancing productivity whilst reducing the environmental impact of livestock production.
Following this, I worked on a number of projects concerned with the gut microbiota of other animals including turkeys and chickens in order to enhance production.
WAW: How would you describe your current research?
K: Currently, my research is focused on livestock production in developing countries and trying to improve it in affordable and innovative ways. My current project looks at the effect of naturally occurring fluoride along the East African Rift Valley. The aim is to reduce the uptake of fluoride from the gut and reduce the debilitating impact of fluorosis on livestock and human populations.
WAW: What three words would you use to describe what you do?
K: Exciting, unpredictable and challenging.
WAW: What do you love about working in your field?
K: The challenges you’re faced with. Working with animals. The mixture between working outside in the field and working in the laboratory. The opportunities to travel to different countries.
WAW: What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
K: My current project. It’s a huge multinational project with many different partners from all over the world. It is concerned with the negative effects of fluoride in agriculture along the African Rift Valley. It’s great because I meet many different researchers from many different disciplines all trying to tackle the problem but from different angles. I get to travel to Kenya and Tanzania regularly and am in charge of my own work. I enjoy leading a team whilst I am out in Kenya and Tanzania and then when I’m back in the U.K. I enjoy focusing on the lab work.
WAW: Who are your role models?
K: It’s always been David Attenborough for his commitment to conservation and education and his longevity in his field. But I really admire my supervisor. He has reached the top of the academic triangle and is still very much down to earth and still thoroughly enjoys the research he is involved with.
WAW: Do you have any advice for people starting out wanting to work in your field?
K: Perseverance! Being a researcher has many low points and can be a very frustrating career. You rarely have a contract for more than a couple of years, which means that you’re barely settling into one job/project before you have to start applying for your next job or searching for your next pot of funding. Furthermore, you’re often working on new things which means that there is little information or guidance on how you should accomplish your goal and science itself involves a lot of trial and error.
WAW: Thanks so much for your time Kate, where can we find out more about your work?