Elaine Gardener

Specialist Technician, University of Portsmouth

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Absolutely go for it! There's so many inspiring females who do amazing work - aim to be part of it!

What do you do?

At the Centre for Enzyme Innovation, we're researching solutions to some of the most pressing global environmental problems. We're learning from the natural world – working to deliver transformative enzyme-enabled solutions for circular recycling of plastics.

I run the bioreactors as part of the group. These range from small scale benchtop to larger 7L upscale. These are for fermentation and upscale as part of the research into microbial degradation of plastics.

Why did you choose this field?

After I completed my A levels, I went in search for work and gained a job at a contract microbiology laboratory. I gained extensive on the job training throughout my career and one company sponsored me to go to university and get my degree.

Life changes and doors to opportunities open up. Grab them whilst you can!

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

Academically, definitely getting my degree. I wasn't interested in further studies after A levels so completing that whilst working full time was a major achievement.

On a work related note, I built my own in-house microbiology laboratory which I documented and qualified - not many can say that!

And I never thought I would be in a position to work within research without a PhD.

Why do you love working in STEM?

I really enjoy the practical work - although sometimes with microbes, they decide to do something completely different to what you were expecting!

I'm constantly learning, everyday and I enjoy seeing early career scientists grow and develop too.

Best advice for next generation?

Absolutely go for it! There's so many inspiring females who do amazing work - aim to be part of it!

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

“Just because you don't understand it doesn't mean it isn't so.” – Lemony Snicket, The Blank Book.

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