Schools’ Day 2020: Our scientists answer students’ questions (Part Three)

Schools’ Day 2020: Our scientists answer students’ questions (Part Three)

Since 1994 the Babraham Institute has run Schools’ Day – an annual event held at the Institute where approximately 200 secondary and sixth-form students and their teachers get hands-on with cutting-edge research in our laboratories and scientific facilities, meet researchers and discover more about careers in science. This year we invited students to submit their own questions to our researchers ahead of the event on Wednesday 26th February.

We received questions from several participating schools and passed them on to a range of our researchers for comment. We’ve compiled their replies to some of the most frequently asked questions to give a range of perspectives and experiences. While there are variations between answers, you’ll see that there are also a lot of similarities. You can learn more about the range of careers at The Babraham Institute on our People Page


Do I need a degree to succeed in science?

“People come into science from all kinds of backgrounds! I work with people who don’t have science degrees, people with BScs, Masters, and PhDs. The traditional way to pursue a career in science is to start with a science-based degree, but there are also apprenticeships and roles which can be accessed without an academic background. I would personally advocate for completing a degree if you are interested in a career in science as you learn about the industry, gain high level critical thinking skills, alongside your scientific knowledge – and also it’s great fun!”
Izzy – PhD Student

“Everyone has a different definition of success, but if you want to become a researcher where you can be the one asking and answering exciting questions about how our bodies work, then yes you will need the knowledge and skills that you develop as part of going to university.”
Cheryl – Grants Manager

“You could get a science-related job straight out of school but to get a job in research and development you would need a bachelor’s degree at least. Many jobs in academic research require you to also have a PhD.”
Jenny – Postdoctoral Researcher

“Science is about coming up with creative ideas, then using rigorous approaches to test them. Once you are in science, people generally look at your contributions rather than your degrees. That said, by far the easiest pathway is through a science degree - it teaches valuable skills, gives you the mental framework to design experiments and think about science, and is key for getting your foot in the door at most institutes.”
Adrian – Group Leader


Part One: What made you want to be a scientist and what have been the highs and lows of your career?

Part Two: How important are maths and computing in the biological sciences?

Part Three: Do I need a degree to succeed in science?