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British Science Week - Amy's Story

To mark British Science Week, we’re #SmashingStereotypes and bringing you stories from staff in the Health Protection and Screening Services Directorate

Today, we’re bringing you Amy's story.

"At school, I was fascinated by understanding how the world works, especially Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics subjects, especially biology. During my A-Levels, I faced discouragement from a chemistry teacher, impacting both my performance and confidence. I didn’t let this deter me and I went on to study biology at university and later delved into bioinformatics, formally learning to code, and earning an MSc.

Despite being the only woman on my course, I thrived within a progressive cohort, applied for a bioinformatician role at PenGU (Pathogen Genomics Unit), and have been here for nearly five years.

My job at PenGU involves designing bioinformatics pipelines to analyse pathogen genomic data, particularly RNA viruses like HIV, for drug resistance surveillance. Knowing my work contributes positively to the world brings immense satisfaction, especially amidst the pressure of building a SARS-CoV-2 genomics service from scratch during the COVID-19 pandemic.

When applying for my current role, I received some wisdom that I insist on passing on to others: “Women tend to undersell themselves. If you match 75% of the job description, then apply".

If you’re uncertain about a career in science, I encourage you to maintain your curiosity and creativity. These qualities not only underpin science but also cultivate a strong sense of identity, which helps more with resilience and confidence than you may expect." - Amy Gaskin, Bioinformatician, Pathogen Genomics Unit