Dr Nicola Veitch
What was your dream career when you were younger?
I had no idea what I wanted to be when I was younger. I have just taken one step at a time and always gone with what I have enjoyed doing. I didn’t have a master plan!
What subjects did you study at school?
I studied a wide variety of subjects at school including Chemistry, Biology, English, French and Maths. I didn’t realise I was so interested in Biology until my final year at school.
Who or what has been your biggest inspiration?
My parents always inspired me to work hard and do my best. At University I was taught by incredibly inspirational lecturers and they sparked a passion in me into the world of parasites and tropical disease.
How have the subjects you studied at school helped you in your career?
Studying a variety of core subjects in school allowed me to apply for University which was the first step. These subjects gave me a good grounding in many skills I would then go onto use. Science subjects gave me a solid knowledge base in Chemistry and Biology while gaining experience of key lab skills and an understanding of how to approach an experiment. Learning English and French allowed me to develop key skills in writing and communication that I now use daily in my job.
What has your STEM journey been since leaving school.
I did my degree in Parasitology. I had originally signed up to do Biochemistry, but realised how fascinating parasites and disease were during my first year, so I changed my course. Following a summer working on parasites in Zimbabwe in Africa, I realised that I wanted to go into research, so I went on to do a PhD once I had completed my first degree. I then went into research as a post-doctoral researcher, eventually gaining a permanent position as a lecturer in infection biology. I now teach infection biology and molecular biology to undergraduate students at the University of Glasgow. I coordinate, design and deliver courses and innovate teaching tools for students.
What skills do you utilise most in your career?
Being an effective communicator is key in my position, so being able to deliver a presentation and engage 3 or 300 students is part of the job. Digital skills are also important, I use digital skills every day to develop teaching resources, coordinate classes and research various topics.
What advice would you give to any young people considering a STEM career?
Take a broad range of core subjects to allow many doors to stay open. Take subjects you enjoy, as it makes them much easier to learn and you are more likely to end up doing a job you like.
There are many opportunities you won’t know are out there until you start exploring. Take up any opportunities for work experience in jobs of interest to you.