An interview with Jolinda Pollock

Name: Jolinda PollockPicture1 - Jolinda Pollock

Current Job: Research Fellow

Scientific Discipline/Field: Microbiology

Country: Scotland

Pick some letters (L,G,B,T,Q,+, etc.): L

Twitter or other social media handle: @jopomicro

What does your job involve?

I am currently a postdoctoral research fellow at The Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, Scotland. After completing my PhD in 2016 on the gut microbiome in piglets, I moved into postdoctoral research in this area studying antimicrobial resistance and gut microbiome dynamics in commercial pigs on British and Ugandan farms. One thing that I love about my area of research is that I get to visit pig farms, spend time in the lab and analyse my data at the desk. It never gets boring!

How did you get to this job (education etc.)?

I grew up on a poultry farm, so have had a keen interest in agriculture from a young age. I knew that I didn’t want to be a farmer (probably to my Dad’s delight!), but always knew that I wanted to have an agriculture-focussed career. When I started university, I got a weekend job working in a diagnostic microbiology lab. I loved the detective work that I had to do there identifying and characterising bacteria, so learned quickly that I wanted to pursue a career in microbiology. When I graduated from university, I worked as a research assistant for a couple of years to improve my research and laboratory skills and then started my PhD in 2012.

Do you feel being LGBT has affected your career decisions?

No, definitely not. I realise that I am lucky to be able to say that, as many people cannot say the same.

Have you had any reactions from colleagues about being LGBT, either good or bad?

I have always been very open about my sexuality. I don’t introduce myself by saying “Hey guys, I am Jo and I am gay!”, but since I have been with my fiancee now for over 11 years, it doesn’t take long for me to talk about her in social settings at work. Generally, people are very accepting but there have been a few people that have clearly been a bit uncomfortable. I think that the only way this will improve is for more LGBTQ+ people to openly talk about themselves/their partner to show how much we have in common with others, rather than highlighting our differences.

Did you have any role models growing up (LGBT, STEM, totally unrelated.)?

I have worked with many talented and passionate people over the years and I have been inspired by many of them to continue on my career path. My most important role model was (and still is) my undergraduate research project supervisor, who motivated me to start my research career.

What are your plans for the future?

My career plans are to better improve my skills in my field, publish my PhD and postdoctoral work, which will hopefully lead to me applying for a research fellowship. As ever, my goal is to learn as much as possible, which is one of the best things about research! My life plans are to get married (which is happening in September!) and to spend lots of time with family and friends. Work/life balance is so important.

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