Gemma Staite

That was a very enthusiastic class. Some great questions. Keep them coming!

Favourite Thing: I love doing fun experiments and learning about the human body



Great Wyrley High School (1995-2002), University of Wolverhampton (2002-2006), University of Nottingham (2008-2010)


A-levels (Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science and Psychology), BSc (Biomedical Science), MSc (Medical Molecular Microbiology)

Work History:

Babysitting and cafe (in a garden centre)

Current Job:

Biomedical Scientist in Microbiology


National Health Service

Me and my work

Grow bugs from wee and poo, then see what will kill them

I work in a diagnostic microbiology laboratory.  Basically this means I work for the NHS, trying to find out what infection a patient has.

The department I work in receives a sample.  I then inoculate it on to agar or in to broth, containing nutrients to help the bacteria grow.  Once it has grown, we can identify it and then do more tests to determine the most appropriate antibiotic to treat the patient with.

We also examine blood for antibodies against viruses, faeces for worms and samples for fungi.


My Typical Day

Grow and identify bacteria

My typical day would start at 9am.  As I arrive I would take the agar plates from the previous day out of the incubators.  I would look at each plate and describe the growth, recording this on to the computer system.  If I felt that the growth was significant, I would pass it on for further investigation.  I would narrow down what type of bacteria it is, based on how it looks and smells, and what it needs to grow.  Then, I would perform appropriate tests.  This could include biochemical reaction tests or sugar fermentation tests.  I might also need to look at it under the microscope.  I would also set up a sensitivity at this point, in order to see how different antibiotics affect the growth of the organism.

Once this work is finished, it’s time for lunch.  Then, I would be assigned to a particular type of specimen, for example wounds.  I would spend the afternoon inoculating these on to agar plates.

What I'd do with the money

An open day

I’d put it towards putting on a open day at work, either for pathology or science within the NHS.  I first got interested in my current career when I attended a similar event and really believe they are worthwhile.  Even if people are not interested in following it as a career after, it still gives them a good idea of what other professions exist in the background of the NHS.

Until recently the trust I work for still put these on, for school groups.  Due to lack of funding, they no longer happen.  I think it is a shame and would love to be able to get one up and running.  This money would really help.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

dedicated, passionate, active

Who is your favourite singer or band?


What is the most fun thing you've done?

zipline (bootleg canyon)

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

travel the world, skydive, kick about with kelly smith

What did you want to be after you left school?

forensic pathologist — finding out how people died

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

just the normal, nothing serious

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

I love it when I isolate a bacteria which we aren’t expecting and I loved dissections at school

Tell us a joke.

Put on the spot and I can’t think of one that isn’t aimed at little children or adults

Other stuff

Work photos: