Craig Allan

MSc Industrial Biotechnology

What attracted you to the MSc Industrial Biotechnology?

As a Forensic Science graduate, I have strong chemical analysis skills, however my passion is within biology and renewables so being able to be part of the cohort for this course allowed me to follow my true passion and gain employment within an interesting and growing industry. The collaborative nature also strongly appealed to me as it would allow for me to develop my academic skills by being given the opportunity to attend different institutions to learn from difference academically recognised members of staff from within the biotechnology sector. The opportunity to complete a work placement within the biotechnology sector was a huge influence as it would allow me to use my newly developed skills in a practical way, while assisting a local biotechnology company develop their business.  

Which module did you most enjoy and why?

I enjoyed all aspects of this course, but Practical Systems Biology and Bioprocessing were very enjoyable for me. Practical Systems Biology was probably the module which put me out of my comfort zone the most, but it allowed me to advance my knowledge in key computational biology as I believe it is a crucial tool in modelling new and existing systems. Upon successful completion of the module, I was delighted with the hard work that I had put in.

The Bioprocessing module provided me with the knowledge of the different parameters and limitations involved in processing biological material as well as making the topic relevant to industry. At first, I thought the topic was daunting, with complex images of reaction vessels, however, upon explanation and background reading, the vessels and parameters were easy to understand, especially in relation to industrial use.

Overall, the relationship between each of the modules helped develop my understanding throughout. The lab visits to both fermentation labs in Strathclyde and Edinburgh was a great experience and put the theoretical knowledge I had learnt into a practical aspect.

Can you tell us a bit about your industry placement?

I'm presently undertaking an industrial project with CelluComp. I am investigating the enzymatic optimisation of Curran® from sugar beet pellets. As the business is going through growth, I am gaining first-hand insights into the steps taken to go from lab scale to production scale.  

Being part of the research and development activity of Curran® has been stimulating for me, no two days are similar and I have had to apply effective organisation and planning skills to design and execute experiments with time course sampling and analysis throughout the week. Also during the CelluComp placement I have acquired new laboratory skills and benefited from the constructive feedback of my industrial supervisor who has encouraged critical thinking in relation to all aspects of the research. This has supported the development of my practical and theoretical ability in regards to material science pertinent to Curran®

What is next in terms of career/ further study after your Masters degree?

To be offered a position within a biotechnology business would be great to gain valuable experience within the industry, however, I am interested in further academic development and would like to continue on to gain a PhD.