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Christine Tait-Burkard

Roslin Institute Fellow

One thing that definitely has helped me in my path is the very interactive environment at The Roslin Institute. So many different disciplines come together under one roof, which has taught me to think out of the box many times, helping my research.

Dr Christine Tait-Burkard
Dr Christine Tait-Burkard from The Roslin Institute with pigs resistant to PRRS
Dr Christine Tait-Burkard

What makes you interested in your work? 

Many aspects of my work make it interesting and it's hard to pinpoint to just one. The ability to dig into the intrinsic details of biological systems whilst developing real-life applications must be one of the most important aspects. But other aspects are of importance too, such as working with a team of great people and in an international context. 

At what point did you begin to see yourself as a scientist? 

My university education aimed to get students involved in larger research projects early on. This resulted in very independent work already during my MSc projects, which made me feel like a scientist quite early on. 

How did you end up in your line of work?  

I believe many of us, including myself, are quite unaware about the decisions we take impacting our longer term careers. The first time I stepped into a lab to work on research projects I knew that I loved doing this. The work satisfied my curiosity to constantly learn more but also combined the intricacies of technical and manual ability in the lab.

A love for travelling and exploring new cultures, together with a great research project on offer made me move from Switzerland to the Netherlands for my PhD. I remember that in my interview I said that I wanted to see how far I can get in science and this indeed ended up to be the path I am currently still on. In 2014 I moved to Scotland for a post-doctoral project, largely influenced by my Scottish husband and of course the project itself! From this great project, generating genome edited pigs resistant to porcine reproductive and respiratory disease virus, I was able to move into my current post as a principal investigator. This allows me to explore new aspects of academic research, direct my own research, and manage a great team. 

What was your first ever job? 

I think my first job was stocking shelves and working the register at a tiny little shop in my home village in Switzerland during high school and early university. 

What was the biggest hurdle you had to overcome to reach your position?

I moved into my assistant professor/career track fellow position at an early stage in my academic career. This makes it a bit more difficult to convince people that you are able to conduct independent research and attract grant funding. I think I was naïve and stubborn enough to believe that I could do that, and I managed to convince other people of that.  

What is the most important skill to have in science?

 A relentless curiosity to dig deeper into the basics principles of nature are certainly paramount. Particularly in lab-based research also a certain level of practical skill is important.  

What do you like to do when you’re not doing science?

 I like to go hiking in the Scottish Highlands and enjoy the magnificent views from the top of Munros. I also enjoy growing crops and flowers in our large garden.  

Further Reading

Pigs that can resist a fatal virus