Working as a University Research Technician

Antonio Spadaccino grew up in Italy.  He graduated with a degree in Accountancy before moving to Scotland, where he went on to study for a BSc in Molecular Biology and then a MRes in Biomedical Sciences.  He now supports student and academic research at the University of Edinburgh. 

Tell us about the job you’re doing now? 

I am the Senior Technician of the Biology faculty in the Orthopaedic Engineering Department at the New Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

Here I facilitate student research so I’m responsible for buying all the necessary products and making sure that students are able to find all the equipment and products for their experiments in our lab. I also help my colleagues in their research because I oversee the Biology-side of their projects.

What is the most exciting aspect of your work? 

I’ve never ended up doing the same thing yet – it’s very fascinating and interesting to try to come up with novel ideas for experiments to set up .   What I like the most about my job is to be presented with problems or research questions and to be capable of starting all the necessary steps to set up what I think is a good study to answer the question. Then once I have the results, collating and presenting all the data.

Would your classmates from school be surprised at what you’re doing now? 

Not really, I always had a scientific mind, so after various jobs I finally found what I really liked.  I suppose my close friends always knew that I would never end up following my first degree and that at some point I would re-train for something I really love doing.

Was there a teacher who had a particularly strong influence on you and if so in what way? 

My art teacher when I was at school, she always pushed us to challenge ourselves and now I finally understand what she meant.

What school subjects were you good at and have any been surprisingly helpful later on? 

I was really good at Languages and Literature, never struggled to learn any Biology and hated anything to do with Maths and Statistics.

How did you decide what you wanted to do after school? 

I didn’t –  my parents pushed me to study Accountancy, and then when I moved to UK, I decided to take charge of my learning.  Although I was thinking about Biology for quite a while, I just had the right push from a friend and we both went to college together.

Did you take a gap year? Did it influence any decisions later in life? 

No, I just finished my Accountancy degree, worked few years then decided to try Biology.

What was your university experience like? 

The study part was quite easy but I found it really hard to sustain myself economically because my country does not have any student loans, apart from paying for university fees, so I had to work all the way through my studies.

 What has been your proudest moment? 

When I graduated, I felt finally I accomplished what I actually longed for.

 Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time? 

Hopefully still in my job, but with better connections worldwide due to the amount of people I will have met and trained.

 What advice would you give someone still at school who wants to do what you’re doing now? 

There’s no point in listening to what people tell you to study, just follow what you like.

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