Former Student Profile: Kathryn Crouch, Class of 1999

Biology Science

We look forward to welcoming Kathryn back to school on Tuesday 5 November 2019 for the Year 8 Inspire & Career Talk

What years did you attend WHS?


What did you get up to at WHS in terms of study and extracurricular activities?

I was always interested in science, taking Biology, Chemistry and Maths at A level. I didn't particularly enjoy maths, but most of the university courses I was interested in required it - in hindsight it has been the most useful. In the Sixth Form I used free periods to help out in Year 8 and 9 Science classes which was great fun! Outside of class, I played the flute and I was a keen if not particularly good gymnast. I competed for the school a couple of times and took part in a display when the Queen visited to open the sports complex in 1995. I also loved the outdoors, spending a lot of my time outside of school kayaking and rock climbing - both hobbies that I still enjoy.

Do you have any fond memories you’d like to share?

Some brilliant teachers with innovative teaching styles.  Mrs Jones (English) spent a lesson teaching us to waltz in the amphitheatre, while Mr Churchill (Chemistry) had a fondness for popping hydrogen balloons to keep us awake!  We used to enjoy tormenting Miss Brash (History) by colouring any maps or diagrams using purple and green.  Also, some great field trips - Durdle Door for Year 9 Geography and Braunton Burrows for A level Biology particularly stick in my mind.  I also recall feeding my headphones down my sleeve so I could listen to music in class by resting by head in my hand!

What did you do after school? Gap year, straight into business or Uni.

I initially wasn't sure what I wanted to do, but a close friend (thanks Louise) spotted the perfect course for me so I applied and went straight to the University of Bristol.  I studied Cellular and Molecular Pathology at the University of Bristol, converting in my final year to graduate with a BSc in Immunology. A friend found the course for me and I was so excited when I read the entry in the prospectus.  The course covered Cell Biology, Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Immunology and Cancer Biology, all things that I had either enjoyed in my A level or was interested in from talking to my Dad who is a Virologist. The course and the university had a good reputation, but more importantly I liked the city when I visited, particularly the way the university is spread through the city rather than having a campus. The university also had a very active mountaineering club and was in a good location to develop my rock climbing skills.

What are you up to now?

After my undergraduate degree, I went straight into a PhD. I had always assumed that I would work my way through the academic system and end up running my own research programme. I enjoyed my PhD, but it became clear to me that I didn't want to follow that path any further.  Instead, I spent several years working in various roles in the Pharmaceutical and Biotech industries.  During this time, new methods for sequencing large amounts of DNA very quickly were developed and I attended several training courses to learn how to analyse the data.  This involved learning programming, which I absolutely loved so I decided to explore that further. After leaving that job, I went to the University of Edinburgh to study for an MSc in Bioinformatics (essentially, computer science for Biologists) to expand my computational and statistics skills, after which I started my current job.  Now, I work at the University of Glasgow, where my role is to help lab-based groups with computational and statistical data analysis. I work in an institute that has approximately 10 lab groups working on different aspects of protozoan parasites, including the parasites that cause Malaria and African Sleeping Sickness. I manage a team of four people who work directly with the lab groups providing data analysis services and I also contribute to an online database that contains the genomes of several hundred protozoan parasites for researchers around the world to use. It is an extremely varied job, I get to work on so many different things and I am always learning. I also teach computational and statistical analysis methods, both at the University of Glasgow and in workshops for post-graduate students in areas around the world where protozoan parasites are endemic, including Africa, South America, South-East Asia and the Middle East.


What do you know now that you didn’t in Year 13 that you’d like to share with current students?

It can take a long time to find a path that suits you. Don't worry if you don't know what you want to do right now, or if you change your mind. Try new things and take opportunities offered.  Work hard and be present - more opportunities will come your way. Take something positive away from each one, however it works out. Don't rush, enjoy the ride!


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