Course studied: Higher National Diploma in Science (Applied Food Studies)
We now offer: BSc (Hons) Food Science and Technology
Brackenhurst has such a close community – NTU made me feel so much more confident
More about Rae
Graduating in 1999, Rae has had a highly successful career in science.
In 2022, Rae was recognised in the Science Council’s CPD Awards, receiving an award in the RSci category. These awards celebrate outstanding professional development in science and showcase the achievements of registrants across the four Science Council registers. Rae previously received a commendation from the Science Council In 2021. She currently works as lead laboratory technician at Cambridge Consultants, a product development and technology consultancy firm.
We caught up with Rae to ask about her memories of NTU and why she chose her course.
“I fell in love with the Brackenhurst campus at an open day,” she says. “I chose to take the Applied Food Studies Higher National Diploma as the food industry was one of the largest employers worldwide. It was also easy to get to places like Newark and Nottingham from Brackenhurst, so I could travel to and from home if I needed to.”
What are Rae’s best memories of life on campus?
“Brackenhurst had such a close community and support was always there if you needed it. I was quiet at school, but NTU made me feel so much more confident and outgoing,” she says.
“I learned so much about the food science and technology – not just from lecturers, but from the part-time students who were already working in the industry. I also got to learn new subjects, such as microbiology and biochemistry. The hands-on sessions in the labs were great – things like cheese making, ice cream making and beer brewing.
“Bear in mind the first time I made ice cream, me and my fellow students kept dipping our fingers into taste it! Turns out we did that so much the bacteria count showed it was unfit for human consumption! It’s things like that you really remember and learn from!”
What does a career as a lead laboratory technician involve, and is there such a thing as a typical day?
“Not at all!” Rae says. “I can be working with medical devices one day, synthetic biology another, followed by cell culture, and by the end of the week I’m handling and controlling a robot. I work with teams consisting of mechanical and software engineers, biologists, physicists, chemists, human factors, and quality assurance.”
Looking back, does Rae recall any specific career challenges?
“I soon discovered the food industry wasn’t for me,” she says. “I made a decision to work within the science sector instead. A lot of the skills I have are interchangeable, so it made sense to be brave and try something new.
“In July 2017 I joined Cambridge Consultants, a design consultancy that helps create new and innovative products. My day-to-day work is very varied. I’ve helped build a DNA print engine that converts digital data into DNA code as an alternative data storage. I was also involved in the development of an application that can capture tuberculosis microbiological images and analyse data with a phone mounted onto a microscope. Initiatives like this can help doctors reach a diagnosis more quickly – so they are really making a difference and saving lives.”
In September 2021, Rae was told she would be receiving a commendation in the Registered Scientist category in the Science Council's CPD awards. She is also a member of the Institute of Science and Technology and a registered scientist.
“The benefits of being a member have been amazing,” Rae says. “It’s made me more confident in my work and more passionate about promoting science to others.
“I’ve also volunteered at the Peterborough STEM festival, where I get a real buzz encouraging children and teenagers to consider a future career in science, technology, mathematics, or engineering.”
Photo credit: Cambridge Consultants
Rae Freestone's LinkedIn profile
Rae's profile on the Cambridge Consultants website
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