Glenalmond Welcomes Dr Claire Skentelbery

During British Science Week, Glenalmond welcomed Dr Claire Skentelbery as our speaker at our first online William Bright Society Lecture. George Pounder, who coordinates this prestigious Glenalmond lecture series, said the lecture provided pupils with much food for thought.

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Last week Coll@Home celebrated British Science Week and International Women’s Day. Dovetailing these events nicely, on Thursday 11th March, we were delighted to welcome Dr Claire Skentelbery to the first online William Bright Society lecture as part of Coll@Home programme.

Dr Skentelbery is Director General of EuropaBio, a large biotechnology industrial association, based in Brussels. She spoke on a range of topics, such as challenging preconceptions about careers in science: 90% of people with science based degrees are not ‘bench scientists’ working in a lab.

Dr Skentelbery trained in agricultural and plant-based science, but has worked in biotechnology in a broader sense for much of her career. She went on to describe some of  the various sectors of biotechnology in which she is involved - healthcare, including rare diseases, digital health and data, and advanced therapeutics, and industrial issues, such as product development with microorganisms like yeast and lab-grown meat.

An outline of her career demonstrated just how varied a career built on a scientific degree can be. The focus is on skills: communication and research to name two. And these are precisely what science training provides. 

Scientific skills are developing all the time, so she advised that a degree in a science-based subject would lead to jobs that do not exist at the moment. There is no set pathway following a degree, so what students learn now will likely be totally different in a few years time. 

Choosing a degree in what genuinely interests you is crucial, she said, not simply big names and traditional disciplines. Dr Skentelbery urged the young people, especially women, in the audience to go for opportunities when they present themselves.

This was a really engaging and informative lecture, and it was a great privilege to have Dr Skeltenbery speak to us all the way from Belgium.