Alumni Services

Career journeys: working in the Agricultural Science sector

Dr Jolinda Pollock is a Research Fellow at The Roslin Institute. Here she shares her perspective on working with animals, the detective work that her job entails and creating opportunities for yourself.

Name Dr Jolinda Pollock
Degree Course

BSc Biological Sciences (Infectious Diseases)

PhD Molecular Microbiology

Year of Graduation 2010, 2017

What is your current role and what does your work involve?

Photo of alum - Jolinda Pollock
Dr Jolinda Pollock

I am currently a Research Fellow at The Roslin Institute. After completing my PhD in 2017 on the gut microbiome in piglets, I moved into postdoctoral research in this area studying antimicrobial resistance and gut microbiome dynamics in commercial pigs on British and Ugandan farms. One thing that I love about my area of research is that I get to visit pig farms, spend time in the lab and analyse my data at the desk. I find being involved in all project stages really rewarding.

My degree taught me the global importance of microbiology, and the complexities of controlling infectious disease in medical and veterinary settings. These challenges are now greater than ever, in light of the emergence of multi-drug resistance in important pathogens. Additionally, the medical and veterinary settings are not discrete, and so pathogens cross between species and also borders. This knowledge has been key in my career development and for the formulation of hypotheses to test my work.

What experience do you feel helped you to get to your current position?

When I started university, I applied for a weekend job working in a diagnostic microbiology lab. I loved the detective work that I had to do there identifying and characterising bacteria, so I learned quickly that I wanted to pursue a career in microbiology.

As well as getting a sense of the importance of microbiology, my time at The University of Edinburgh allowed me to develop and grow as a person, and to meet people from all over the world. The combination of a quality education with the social aspects of university life, gave me the tools and confidence to progress my career and my personal life too (I met my wife on the first day of university!).

What advice would you give to students who are interested in your area of work?

Get as much experience as you possibly can! I have never been an ‘A-grade student’ but because of this, I ensured that I grew in other areas to make sure that I stood out and created ample opportunities for myself. As well as my weekend job in a laboratory, I volunteered at public engagement events throughout my university and early scientific career (such as the Royal Highland Show and the Edinburgh Science Festival). Such experiences are highly rewarding, and allow you to connect with other scientists and members of the public, as well as adding to your own skillset.