Gillian Hunter - Lecturer - Biological and Biomedical Sciences - Glasgow Caledonian University

Issued: Wed, 17 Jun 2020 00:00:00 BST

Tell us a fun fact about yourself

I am in a triathlon club and have recently started to swim regularly in Loch Lomond, which is a wee bit cold!

Tell us about your careers journey so far

I studied Genetics at Glasgow University, during which time I did a year long work placement at Astrazeneca in Cheshire.  After graduating, I moved to London to study for a PhD in Neuroscience.  I then decided on a career in scientific research and I worked at Oxford University for a while, then with two different teams at Edinburgh University before securing a lectureship position at Glasgow Caledonian University.  Now I still carry out research, but also teach a range of subjects to undergraduate and postgraduate students.

What was your favourite subject in school and why?

Although my job is based on Biology I didn't study Biology until 6th year at school.  Up until that point, my favourite subjects were Maths and English.  They're very different subjects but I enjoy Maths as I like doing calculations and English because I love reading and making up stories. 

What subjects/qualifications are useful for your role?

The main subjects necessary for my job are biology, maths and chemistry.  To work as a Lecturer at my university at least two degrees are normally needed in relevant subjects, an undergraduate BSc and a postgraduate PhD.

What is a normal day in your role like?

Varied!  On a normal day I try to come in early to set up experiments before my teaching starts.  Then I might have lectures or tutorials to teach and students to help with problems.  I try to get into the lab at least once a day to do my own experiments or make sure that my PhD student is okay.  I might also have undergraduate or postgraduate students working in the lab who might need help setting up experiments or understanding results.  I also try to keep up to date with relevant literature in my field, which is needed to give me research ideas, to make sure that my teaching material is up to date, or to make sure that my teaching methods are appropriate.  Finally there are also lots of meetings to attend, for example discussion of student marks at exam time, development courses to improve teaching, and research meetings to share results and to support students.  No day is ever the same!

What's your favourite thing about your job?

The variety of my day. And also my colleagues, who are very enthusiastic and supportive.

Can you suggest an activity that could be done at home that illustrates an aspect of your work?
Please share links to relevant resources.

Many of the experiments I carry out in the lab use DNA. In the lab we use special kits to extract DNA from cells or tissue, but at home there is a very simple experiment you can follow to extract DNA from fruit!