Tom Hathway – BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences graduate

Current employer: Molly Scott Cato MEP

Current job title: Trainee

Current location: Brussels

“My placement was split into two parts: half field ecology and half laboratory based microbiology... taking a placement year really helped me to cement the skills I had learnt on the course and to become confident in my practical abilities.”

Tell us about your career path since graduation.

I originally wanted to start a PhD in crop science straight after my degree. However, after seeing an opportunity to enter into my current line of work, I figured that taking some time out of science to earn some money and see it put into policy practice would be fun.

How has your degree helped/influenced your career path?

Alongside all of the cool topics and practical skills I learnt throughout the modules, I was also developing key skills all the time – such as primary research, communication skills, and even just structuring your time to become an effective, independent worker.

Has your career path changed since graduation?

I suppose so, yes. Though I don’t believe that there’s such a thing as just one path to go down, there’s always a bridge crossing in another direction.

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

Probably putting together an event attended by policy makers and members of the public. It was a massive success. Every day is fairly exciting in the ever-changing world of European politics.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get in to the same line of work?

However you want to paint it, politics is inescapable. Don’t be afraid to get involved and don’t be intimidated if there’s terminology you don’t know. If you’re not one hundred per cent sure how things work, it’s about what you stand for and believe in; you’re outlook is shaped by your studies and life experiences rather than your ability to recall facts.

What lessons/skills did you gain from your course?

Too many to list; though laboratory skills were essential, and taking a placement year really helped me to cement the skills I had learnt on the course and to become confident in my practical abilities. I also learnt how to structure scientific research papers, and how to effectively communicate what we’d learnt to the public as well as other scientists.

Did you undertake a placement during your degree and if so, how did this benefit you?

My placement was split into two parts: half field ecology and half laboratory based microbiology. This really helped me to determine the kind of practical aspects of biological sciences I most enjoyed and would like to pursue further.

What is your favourite memory of studying at Plymouth?

My favourite memory of my time at Plymouth University was the biodiversity lecture in the awesome Sherwell Building: that ignited my passion for politics.

Do you stay in touch with other Plymouth University alumni or lecturers?

I am still in contact with my placement supervisor and my dissertation supervisor, along with many other people I met at university.

Would you recommend undertaking a course with Plymouth University, and why?

Absolutely. Aside from your course, you will not find another place where opportunities are so abundant – whether this might be a placement at home or abroad, setting up a society, shaping your Students’ Union, or even just taking a boat out into the open sea.

Tom Hathway examining a culture of Acidithiobacillus caldus and Acidiplasma cupricumulans, that are leaching metals from the mineral chalcopyrite - these are extremophiles, growing at the pH of battery acid and at 50°C. The use of the Bacteria and Archaea in the mining of metals from low-grade ores (biohydrometallurgy) has been in commercial use for 40 years and over 30 per cent of copper coming into the UK is mined this way in South America.