• Question: What tips would you give someone who would like to be a microbiologist?

    Asked by danrumford to Cat, Holly on 13 Jun 2011.
    • Photo: Cat O'Connor

      Cat O'Connor answered on 13 Jun 2011:

      Hi again Dan, great to hear from you!

      Well here is a tip which I wish someone would have told me when I was still in School: The further you study Biology the more important Chemistry becomes! So try and learn to love chemistry. Especially if you want to down the path of molecular microbiology which is super-cool and is really going to help us learn more about infectious disease. But chemistry is applied to all streams of Micro; from making media to allow the bugs to grow to understanding why some bugs are more deadly than others!

      You are so lucky your school takes part in this competition where you get to chat to scientists (and even luckier that your school got assigned to the Micro zone 😀 ). What sort of microbiology are you interested in? How food is made, how to keep food safe, diseases, virus therapy (yes using viruses to CURE disease), soil ecology etc? I specialised on diseases and keeping food safe in Uni but then did a masters especially on diseases that can spread from humans to animals and vice versa. And now I’m working on just one disease but using data from outbreaks to try and figure out how we can stop this disease happening again. So while I’m trained as a microbiologist, I’m now what you’d call a Veterinary epidemiologist. A degree in microbiology can take you anywhere!

      My last tip would be to go for it! You obviously know what you want to do so do it! Go to uni, learn to become a kick-ass microbiologist and someday in the future, when our paths cross at a conference, please do not sing a Mariah Carey song!!