What’s a typical day at work like?
I’m an office-based toxicologist (which is probably good because I was a bit of a liability in the lab!). Most of my time is spent trying to find and interpret scientific evidence of a chemical’s safety. There’s rarely a full set of safety information for environmental contaminants, so there’s a lot of detective work and expert judgement required to fill in the gaps in the jigsaw.
I prepare risk assessments, evaluate toxicology studies, prepare discussion papers and statements for the Committees, and give advice on the risks posed by chemicals to a variety of people (colleagues, ministers, civil servants, journalists, healthcare professionals, and the public).
What are the best things about being a toxicologist in the public sector?
I chose to work for the Government because it gives me the feeling that all my skills as a toxicologist are being used to make the world safer. It’s very rewarding when I know that I’ve helped stop people from being exposed to chemicals at a level that might harm them. I also believe that it’s important that the discoveries made by researchers are understood and that the Government takes appropriate action, so it’s rewarding to know that I’m a key part of that process.
Basically it’s great to do a job that you really believe in, working with different chemicals, and with a wide variety of scientists and people from other professions.