Zahra Rattray
Chancellor’s Research Fellow and Lecturer

What was your dream career when you were younger?

I was always curious about how animals and human bodies work. I wanted to be a vet or a doctor.


What subjects did you study at school?

I studied Maths, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Critical Thinking at A levels


Who or what has been your biggest inspiration?

My sister! She survived leukaemia twice and inspired me to learn about drugs and their development. She also taught me to smile no matter what.


How have the subjects you studied at school helped you in your career?

Studying STEM subjects has been helpful with my career and were needed for me to study Pharmacy at University. Having finished university, I still use these sciences in my research career. Critical thinking was a really useful subject for me to process information without taking it at face value!


Please briefly describe your STEM journey since leaving school.

After leaving college I attended the University of Manchester to study Pharmacy, at the time I wasn’t feeling so sure about. In the third summer of my degree I got to work as an intern in AstraZeneca, a large pharmaceutical company. This was really exciting as I got to experience how new medicines are developed.

When I finished university, I worked in a hospital and returned to AstraZeneca to complete my pre-registration training as a pharmacist. When I qualified, I returned to University of Manchester to study for a doctorate. My research involved using microscopes to study how various proteins are taken up into cells, so that we can design new medicines targeting tumours. In 2013 I graduated with a doctorate and stayed on to continue with my research and teach on the pharmacy degree. During this time, I also worked part time as a pharmacist in Boots pharmacy. In 2016 I moved to the USA to research in the Yale Cancer Centre at Yale university, and in 2018 set my new lab up at University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.


What skills do you utilise most in your career? 

Public speaking, writing, teamwork, my scientific skills and time management.


What advice would you give to any young people considering a STEM career? 

Follow your dreams and do what you enjoy the most! Science is for everyone, no matter your race, religion or gender!