Women in Science – Q&A with Sue Smith

To mark International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we interviewed Sue Smith, Study Director and Histology Lab Manager at HistologiX, about her experiences studying and working in science. Sue shares her insights on choosing a career in science, the importance of on-the-job training and education, and advice for girls and women considering a career in science.

First up is our Study Director & Histology Lab Manager, Sue Smith, who has worked at HistologiX for over 6 years.

Q: What did you study?

A: I studied for my degree part-time at Nottingham Trent University whilst working full time. I gained a BSc in Pharmacology and Microbiology with Honours.

Q: What made you choose to study Pharmacology and Microbiology?

A: I thought that studying would help me progress in my career and give me more knowledge in the area that I was working in. I chose Pharmacology and Microbiology as at the time I worked in a QA microbiology laboratory, so the subject of microbiology was relevant to my job. I also chose pharmacology as I had worked in the pharmaceutical industry and the subject was of interest to me. It also tied in with working in microbiology as we tested injectables made by my employer at the time for the pharmaceutical industry.

Q: Did you always want to be a scientist? 

A: I did not know what I wanted to do when I left school. I always had an interest in science at school and choose science subjects in my options for my O levels. I did not realise the many different subjects in the sciences, and I am still learning about them now. I enjoyed biology more than physics and chemistry that is why I went into histology.

“I did not realise the many different subjects in the sciences, and I am still learning about them now.”

Q: How has your career in science developed over the years?

A: My career in science has developed over the years through on the job training and attending college and university. My first job was as a Trainee Laboratory Technician working for Boots Pharmaceuticals in the Histology Department. As I progressed in the role, through learning on the job and attending day release at college, I was promoted from Trainee to Senior Technician. I then worked for AstraZeneca in the Safety Assessment division in the Histology labs, where I gained further skills in Histology and Immunohistochemistry (IHC). I then spent six years in the Manufacturing industry working for Boots Manufacturing in the QA Microbiology labs. I gained knowledge of various microbiology testing techniques on the products manufactured by Boots to ensure they were safe for customer use. I then went to work back in Histology roles, and I am now the Manager of the Histology Department at HistologiX. I got this role through my knowledge gained from the years of working in the science industry, further education, and attending conferences. I have enjoyed every minute of it.

Q: What would you say to girls and women considering a career or education in science? 

A: I would say if science is a subject that you are interested in, then go for it. Research the many different subjects in science and see what qualifications are needed to get into that area, then work hard towards it. If you know anyone that works in education or science, ask them if you can go in on work experience to see if it is something that you would like to have a career in.

Q: Did anyone influence or inspire you to become a scientist?

A: My dad did encourage me to go into research with a local pharmaceutical company when I left school. I have been in science ever since.


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