Brian (research institute)


My first job for ten weeks after I graduated with an Honours degree in Marine Biology was gathering data on fishing activity. I wanted to continue in this field and contract research enabled me to do it. I worked for a year as a Research Assistant, where I enjoyed working with undergraduates on their fish biology course. I would have continued with this but when my contract required me to work at a laboratory on the East Coast I saw a post that was advertised internally and applied for it. My interview with a panel of three people was quite daunting, but I was very enthusiastic which I believe got me the job ahead of the other applicants and I started immediately my research contract ended.

I specialise in ecotoxicology and I get involved in long-term monitoring plans and short-term contracts that are often in novel fields of research. I regularly work at sea for up to three weeks and at other marine institutions with many trips around British estuaries. I am responsible for a 3-year in-house contract in a specialised field of ecotoxicology and I have made presentations of this work at conferences and eventually expect this work to be published.

Transferable skills development

  • Communication - Conveying information clearly, accurately and enthusiastically to groups and individuals with varying levels of knowledge and understanding. Asking questions of others and using active listening skills to help resolve problems.
  • Planning and organising - Setting a realistic timescale, ensuring that all necessary resources are available, reviewing progress against original objectives and developing contingency plans. Working unsupervised for long periods of time.
  • Levels of problem solving - Analysing and evaluating relevant data and information and applying own knowledge to interpret and consider all alternatives solutions and strategies.
  • Networking - Developing networks to build working relationships with national, international and associated industrial bodies.
  • In my current role I have had to develop a wide variety of specialist skills that are relevant to the particular jobs that I do at the laboratory and on field trips. The most important skill that I have developed which has stood me in good stead has been initiative.


Even though you may feel at home in contract research, keep looking for the opportunities that unexpectedly present themselves. Competition is very fierce for posts in commerce and other fields of academia and the background knowledge, experience and academic qualifications are generally very similar between all the applicants. There will always be opportunities for free thinkers and the people who will succeed are those who appear more open and enthusiastic at interviews, those who can get a good job done and those who can demonstrate the ability to surmount problems independently.

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