Pip Beard

Principal Investigator, The Pirbright Institute and The Roslin Institute / University of Edinburgh


Your discoveries will build on the whole sum of human knowledge and benefit the generations who follow.

What do you do?

I lead a team of scientists who investigate viral diseases of livestock.

Why did you choose this field?

I always wanted to be a veterinarian, and was lucky enough to have a supportive and nurturing family who enabled me to reach this dream. While studying for my veterinary degree and then working in general practice I found out I was driven by knowledge discovery. So I decided to specialise in research, undertook a PhD, loved it, and have been an academic research scientist ever since!

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

I am one of those super lucky people who are not held back by fear of failure. If I want to achieve something I just go ahead and attempt it. I know this is really unusual especially for a woman in a male-dominated profession. I do appreciate how lucky I am!

Why do you love working in STEM?

Learning something new. I get such a kick out of finding out something novel, something no one has ever know about before. When I was doing my PhD I was working with an amazing team, and we found a bacteria (Mycobacterium paratuberculosis) affected wildlife as well as livestock. This hadn't been known before and opened up the possibility of new management strategies for controlling disease in cattle and sheep. This was just so cool, uncovering new knowledge and seeing it extrapolated to controlling disease.

I have also been lucky enough to have the opportunity to work as a specialist veterinary advisor in Mongolia, advising government vets in Mongolia about livestock disease and building their capacity for disease detection and control. This has been amazingly rewarding working. I can see the knowledge I have learnt from my supervisors and mentors and my research being passed on to my Mongolian colleagues and multiplied - this is what makes me get out of bed in the morning!

Best advice for next generation?

My career in particular (academic research) is a wonderfully rewarding career and you will never be bored. You probably won't make as much money as your friends in the private sector, but your discoveries will build on the whole sum of human knowledge and benefit the generations who follow you.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

"The day I stop fighting for equality is the day I am in my grave.” (paraphrasing Serena Williams after her final Wimbledon match this year!)

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