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News > Alumni Interviews > Q&A Interview with Lara Robinson (2014-2019)

Q&A Interview with Lara Robinson (2014-2019)

Lara talks to us about her placement year and uni life so far...

Lara Robinson (2014-2019)

Where are you now? 

After finishing my A Levels in Chemistry, Biology, Geography & Core Maths I went to the University of Bath to study Biochemistry. I’m now in the third year of my degree, on my industrial placement year at a diagnostics company, Oxford Immunotec, based in Abingdon. The company focuses on using specialist T-SPOT assay technology for the diagnosis of tuberculosis - which is still much more common than you might realise! During the pandemic, our T-SPOT tests have also been used for the measurement of immune response to various COVID vaccines in the clinical trial phase as part of the UK Vaccine Task Force - it’s been very cool to be involved with trials before the results are out in the public. We receive blood samples from hospitals and trial centres across the UK, process them using specialist assays to measure the immune response to particular proteins linked either to TB infection, or to COVID-19 and its variants. 

Adjusting from doing almost the entirety of my second year from my bedroom in my university house, to working full time in an industrial laboratory was definitely a challenge! A week after the end of my second-year exams, I moved from Bath to Oxford for the start of my placement, and it was a steep learning curve at first given the lack of lab experience during my time at university (thanks to the pandemic). After completing my training, my day-to-day responsibilities at work have included running the routine T-SPOT diagnostic assays, performing technical equipment validations and continuous improvement investigations into our laboratory processes. Following this placement, I’m due to spend 10 weeks in a research lab at the University of Oxford, on the Lister Institute Studentship programme - which will hopefully give me a good comparison of industrial vs research labs and help me decide where I want to go next! 

Any memories of CCS? 

Some of my favourite memories of my 5 years at CCS have to include Biology with Mr Brown and Chemistry with Mrs Walker who both really supported me and helped to set me up for where I am now. I also have very fond memories of the yearly Christmas Pantomime, and have to mention bursting into tears on silver DofE when I saw Mr Steeds at the entrance to the campsite... I can't believe how quickly the last 3 years have flown by, and hopefully this will be able to help someone who's in the position that I was deciding which university and course is right for them. However, I honestly believe that you end up in the place that's right for you!  

Plans for the future? 

I’ll return to Bath in September to complete my fourth and final year and (hopefully?!) graduate with a BSc in Biochemistry, and following this I hope to go on to do a postgraduate degree in the field. I don't yet have a concrete answer to the old 'What do you want to do after uni?' question, but I'd like to end up somewhere in the field of molecular medicine, either in academia or industry. For anyone looking to go to uni and considering a placement or sandwich course, I honestly can't recommend it enough. The experience it gives you is second to none and it really helps you to find your feet and get a bit of a 'taster' for an industry you're interested in. There's also such a range of placement jobs available - I have friends on my course doing everything from corporate finance to clinical trial planning and pharmaceutical marketing! 

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