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Spotlight: David Bremner - Research Technician - University of Aberdeen

Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

I was part of the Bankhead Youth Theatre cast performing the musical Grease at His Majesty’s theatre Aberdeen as part of the Aberdeen International Youth Festival in 1992.

Tell us about your career journey so far.

At school I was interested in science and home economics and was going to study hospitality management at university. At the end of 6th year, I saw an advert for a research assistant at The Rowett Institute in the analytical services division. This was close to where I lived so meant very little commuting time and promised the scope for further study while working full time. I got the job and after 6 years of day release classes, I passed my BSc in Applied Biosciences with Chemistry. I have been with the Rowett since 1992, and after our merger with the University of Aberdeen in 2008, I have been a research technician in the Human Nutrition Unit working on studies looking at diets and nutrition status.

What was your favourite subject in school and why?

My favourite subjects were Biology because I learned all about nutrients and what they were needed for in the body, Home Economics because it taught how to get these nutrients into the body through meals we prepared (and because I got to cook and eat things!!). I liked English because writing essays required imagination and creative thinking.

What subjects/qualifications/skills are useful for your role?

Science is the subject i use in my role most, but I have found that other skills which are transferable from those learned at school are the ability to work as an individual but also as part of a team. The most important skill has to be communication.

What is your favourite thing about your job?

The thing I enjoy most about my job is the knowledge exchange or public engagement aspects. When we go into schools to run workshops and activities. I

love how children come up with questions or think about things that we as adults might not have considered. I also enjoy working with members of the public on our studies, each completed study gives you a certain feeling of personal pride and accomplishment thinking about how you have contributed to the project coming to completion.

What is a normal day in your role like?

Being a research technician, means its difficult to categorise as normal, one day you can be taking apart a piece of equipment for maintenance or repair, the next you could be preparing chemical solutions for use or analysing samples using a kit or chemical assay. Prioritisation of our workload is pretty flexible and as a team we regularly meet to ensure that all tasks for the week are covered.

And what does your job title mean?

We carry out studies looking at nutrition and diets and how we can try to make these healthier or help people with certain medical conditions through what they eat or use as supplements.

Similar to how a mechanic tries to get the best out of an engine, we try to do the same with the human body.

Can you suggest an activity that could be done at home that illustrates an aspect of your work?

As part of our knowledge exchange programme we do quite a lot of work with school visits using activities to promote healthy eating, balanced nutrition and nutrients. The activity also looks at how food choices impact on climate change and sustainability.


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