I’m from Invergordon, north of Inverness in the Scottish Highlands. Education-wise, along with my General Certificate in Brewing and Distilling, I also hold a Master’s in Chemistry (Heriot-Watt University) and I’m studying for a Post Grad Cert in Sensory Science through my Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Warner’s and the University of Nottingham.
What are you working on at the moment?
Every day at Warner’s is different and varied! I get involved in an array of projects and the company is great at encouraging this, whether I’m in a lab, running sensory panel tastings, conducting research to improve product development and quality, or simply helping to make gin in the distillery. I also get to be involved in some confidential but very exciting projects as well!
Did you have a role model that influenced your decision to work in science? Why science?
My Auntie Linda was a chemical engineer, which was pretty rare for a woman at that time. She was very passionate about what she did and was always encouraging! I have always loved science from a very young age (I have an embarrassing rock collection to prove it). I wanted to work in a career that genuinely inspired and challenged me. I also enjoyed blowing things up from time to time in the lab.
Did you ever doubt your abilities as a scientist? Why? How did you handle these situations/feelings?
Every single day haha! Research is built around success and failures – but the more failures you have the better that payoff when something actually works!
In ten years, what do you hope to have accomplished in terms of your work?
To have a career I feel passionate about and enjoy, although right now, my goal is to become a technical specialist. I would love to be respected enough in the industry that other people or companies come to me for help and guidance.
What kind of prejudices, if any, did you have to face? How did that make you feel? Were you able to overcome these?
I have definitely faced prejudices from both a gender and an age perspective within the scientific/research industry. For example, I have been refused handshakes from people who have gone to on shake hands with my male colleagues. However, I use these experiences to motivate me and I love when I can prove people wrong. When I first entered the spirits industry, my scientific peers tried to make me feel that it was inferior to other types of research. Warner’s have been incredibly supportive, and I love what I do and I’m glad I took the chance and branched away from what I was told to do. People are pretty impressed when I tell them what my job is now.
In your opinion, which changes, if any, are needed in the scientific system to be more attractive to women in science and possible future scientists?
More communication about potential options available! The job I’m doing now was something that I never would have considered as an option just a few years ago. I hope that future scientists can have the breadth of opportunities better explained so they understand what is possible as well as having the self-confidence to actually go for them!