Jamie – Researcher in Microbial Fuel Cells

If you think you could be interested in working in a lab, problem solving, analysing data and writing reports then this could be the job for you! Read on to find out more and see if you would like to follow in Jamie’s footsteps.

What attracted you to this job?

Electricity from sewage, I feel like an alchemist.

What does your typical day involve?

Lab work, problem solving and data analysis with some report writing and work-related conversations with other researchers

What gives you the most job satisfaction?

Getting great data, analysing it and then gradually working something out indirectly from that.

What do your friends and family think about your job?

I don’t think they really understand it. When I am working hard I think they feel sorry for me except they don’t realise I am actually deeply affectionate about the problem I am absorbed by.

Tell us more about your environment in terms of work-life balance

Work-life balance is sometimes great and sometimes you have to work weekends and holidays. Essentially though you are your own boss and efficiency means better work-life balance.

How did you get to where you are today?

I did well at school and then went onto get a 1st Class Degree, and a Distinction at Masters. I have a genuine curiosity about the world. I have taken a somewhat scenic route to this location however and have worked in a casino, as a teacher and even on identity parades.

What words of wisdom would you give someone interested in getting into your field?

You really need to have some passion about what you do as you will be competing with nerds who would do your job for free. If you are interested, get involved. Universities are very accommodating to guests and most scientists would be happy to talk to you about any aspect of their job.

How well is your job compensated? What is the starting salary for someone in your field, and how much can this be expected to rise?

After PhD the salary is just under £30,000. Professors Earn about £60-70K plus. There are opportunities to get involved with lots of things however, such as spinouts, which could prove to be lucrative. Most researchers don’t come into the job for money.

Out of ‘office hours’, what lights your fire?/ What kind of hobbies or extracurricular activities do you do to relax?

Silversmithing, fishing, camping – anything outdoors really. I also like good wine, great food and making my own beer.

Have there been any embarrassing moments?

Too many to list! Working with bacteria and wastes can be pretty smelly. Quite often it covers up for some of my colleagues who have less than scrupulous hygiene!