Meet our scientists – Dr Carey Fraser
I am Carey Fraser. I work 30 hours a week and spend half of my week as Science Operations Programme Manager for Marine Scotland Science, and half on secondment as Head of Professional Development for Science in the Scottish Government.
Why is what you do important?
Science Operations provide specialist services to all areas of Marine Scotland Science (MSS) and beyond so it is important that I communicate details about Marine Scotland’s priorities, resources and likely future changes to the specialist groups. The Head of Professional Development is a new role and my first task is to set up a career development strategy for scientists working in the Scottish Government. There are scientists of all disciplines working in many different areas of Government including bench scientists and specialists in MSS and Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA), advisors in the Agriculture & Rural Economy and Environment & Forestry Directorates of the Scottish Government, as well as Food Standards Scotland, and scientists providing advice or commissioning science for other areas of Government, such as Health and Social Care. Any strategy needs to provide for this diverse range of staff and link to other Government analytical professions, such as Economists, Statisticians and Social Researchers.
What’s your career path been – how did you get here?
I began as an Assistant Scientific Officer in the Parasitology section of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland (DAFS) in 1984. I carried out lab work, fish farm visits and a couple of sea trips but I was never a good sailor. Thanks to a very supportive line manager, I studied part-time for a degree with the Open University. I moved to a brand new Molecular Genetics section after completing my degree and studied part-time for a PhD while developing DNA tests to identify parasite species. I was promoted to Group Leader for the Molecular Genetics at a very exciting time when we developed world-leading testing services and research team. I was seconded to the senior management team at the time when we were Fisheries Research Services (the predecessor to Marine Scotland Science), and coordinated the planning and reporting of the Scottish Government-funded science programme. Not content with just the two degrees, I completed a part-time MBA around this stage.
Since the inception of Marine Scotland I have become Science Operations Programme Manager and have had duties that include chairing the UK and Scottish Research Vessel Working Groups, a secondment to conduct a review of the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, and helping and supporting both MSS and SASA in joining the Athena SWAN to begin working towards the Bronze charter for gender equality. It feels like I have had several different jobs, just all in more or less the same location!
If you weren’t doing this, what do you think you’d be doing instead?
We used to ask this question in the labs some days and I honestly don’t know. I’d like to say I would have been a Vet. I think I would have enjoyed that career, but I’m pretty certain I wouldn’t have worked hard enough in my last year at school to get in.
Gyrodactylus parasites give birth to live young. The electron micrographs of this look like a scene from ‘Alien’ (see right).
And one fun fact about you?
I like going to the gym to stave off running injuries. My 100kg deadlift personal best pales into insignificance compared to the achievements of my powerlifting champion colleague in communications, who is my hero!