Early Career Day – Planning and progressing your career in animal science

Aspiring animal scientists will have the opportunity to gain invaluable advice from leading industry experts and academics at the Early Career Day, organised by the BSAS Early Career Council.
The event will take place ahead of this year’s BSAS Conference on the 8th of April at the SRUC King’s Buildings in Edinburgh. It will feature a range of speakers offering advice and guidance on building a successful career in
animal science and will allow attendees to take part in a series of group activities to build on their skills and networking abilities. 
We spoke to Zoë Willis, PhD research student and chair of the Early Career Council, about what this event can offer those starting out in their animal science careers and why you should be attending.
Could you tell us a bit about your own background – who you work for and what you do?
“I have always been fascinated with animals and did my degree in Equine Science at Warwickshire College, during which I did a placement year with Professor Laura Green’s research group at the University of Warwick. I spent the year working on mastitis and lameness in sheep. I loved it so I applied for the PhD positions in Laura’s group and started my PhD in 2015 after finishing my third year. 

“I am now in my fourth and final year studying the main bacterium that causes foot rot in sheep and still really enjoying my work. I have been fortunate to have gained a wide variety of skills including learning lab techniques, statistical analysis, bioinformatics, writing journal papers and teaching undergraduates. We also like to get our research out to farmers as much as possible through attending farming events and producing resources for farmers. 
“I joined the BSAS student council (as was) back in July 2017 and became chair in May 2018. During my stint as chair we have changed from student council to the Early Career Council with a really positive response. Now we are the Early Career Council we hope our events can be more accessible and applicable to a broader audience from undergraduates to postgraduates and those in industry starting out in their animal science careers.”
What will the Early Career Day focus on and what does it hope to address?
“The Early Career Day is following on from feedback of last year’s event, having speakers from academic and industry backgrounds sharing their experiences and advice. It really inspired students last year to hear from people in animal science careers and hearing how they got to where they are. 
“So, we thought we would continue that for this year’s event. We will also be asking attendees to work in groups to come up with a feasible research proposal around the topic of ‘making livestock farming more sustainable’. To be able to plan a new and innovative research project incorporates many skills transferable to jobs in the future.”
Who will be speaking during the day and what will they be talking about?
“Our speakers will be giving a brief account of their career so far, the challenges they have faced and advice they would give to those starting out in animal science. 
“We have Jos Houdijk, head of the Monogastric Science Research Centre and Professor of Animal Nutrition and Health at SRUC; Nia Ball, Livestock Scientific Advisor for the Scottish Government; Laura Tennant, Ruminant Technical Advisor at Trouw Nutrition GB; Charlotte Kay, Associate Trainer at Quest Scotland and Curriculum Development Fellow at Perth College UHI and finally John Hickey, Chair of Animal Breeding and Career Track Fellow at The Roslin Institute.”
What will audiences learn from attending the Early Career Day?
“We hope attendees will learn from the speakers’ past experiences and challenges and also learn invaluable skills from devising a research proposal taking various practical factors into consideration to make it work.”
Who stands to benefit from attending this event?
“The Early Career Day will benefit those wanting ideas and advice from those who have been there and also for those unsure of their next steps.”
How can ideas talked about in the session be utilised by those in the early stages of their career?
“We hope to offer different views of what is possible in animal science and provide a supportive and thought-provoking platform for everyone to share and discuss their ideas and concerns in a relaxed and supportive atmosphere.”

To register for tickets and to find out more about the programme of speakers planned for the BSAS 2019 Conference, click here.

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