Dr Ellis Robb
Senior Fermentation Scientist, Ingenza
Ellis Robb was recruited in the first cohort of IBioIC PhD students (October 2014) to undertake industrially-relevant research at the University of Strathclyde in partnership with Ingenza. One of the defining features of the IBioIC PhD programme is that the collaborative partnership must be forged at the application stage, enabling the student to have support from both the academic community and the industrial partner from the outset. To further enhance the research programme, IBioIC students fulfil “industry-readiness” training with the goal of educating and fast-tracking the supply of work-ready graduates to support the growing industrial biotechnology sector in Scotland.
An extended interview process
Ellis undertook a 6-month placement at Ingenza, which resulted in a job offer from at the end of his PhD. Ellis describes IBioIC’s PhD program as an opportunity for scientific and professional development and highlights his industrial placement as a launching platform for a career in industrial biotechnology:
“I really enjoyed working so closely with Ingenza throughout which allowed me to improve my skills in the PhD environment while also gaining a greater understanding of the biotechnology industry in Scotland. I can see now that the IBioIC PhD training program helped to guide my development towards becoming an effective part of this growing sector.
“I believe this contributed directly to colleagues at Ingenza being confident I could integrate easily into their workforce. Without the opportunity for an industrial placement, which was a key part of my IBioIC PhD programme, I believe it would have been harder to convince Ingenza that I was the right employee for the job.”
Whilst undertaking his PhD, Ellis was challenged to create an eye catching image and digital story to describe the impact of his research.
“The training that I was provided helped me to look at my research and activities in a different light especially the public engagement activities, these forced me out of my research bubble and helped me to understand that the perception of my research can be very different to people depending on how well it is explained to them. Explained scientifically it can be quite boring but when delivered in a relatable manner you can see people beginning to be excited by the possibilities. This helped me to become much better at communication, a skill which I have found to be very important in industry.”
A Platform for the Future by Ellis Robb
Platform chemicals are required to make a whole host of everyday objects. Current production uses oil which will eventually no longer be an option. However microorganisms can produce these chemicals sustainably providing an alternative to oil. Research being carried out at the University of Strathclyde, in partnership with Ingenza Ltd and IBioIC, aims to improve our understanding of this process, transferring this from the laboratory to industry.
Image: © 2015 Ellis Robb. Collaborators: Scott Parker, Brian Griffin, Joana Faustino, Laura Jeffrey