Petra Oyston

head and shoulders shot of professor Oyston

What does it take to win the 2018 Women in Defence “Innovator of the Year” award? Passion, curiosity and a lot of determination! 

Listen to Petra talk about her journey from a schoolgirl in the North East of England, via Manchester University and Florida to her ground breaking research at the Defence Science and Technology Lab Dstl Petra gives us a hint of the research she has done to better understand the bubonic plague, historically known as the Black Death.  More recently however, Petra’s work is to use bacteria to develop materials that are stronger and can protect our troops. Hear how her career has progressed from hands on research to mentoring others, leading multi-disciplinary teams and, as a Professor, linking with universities to support the development of research and microbiological understanding.  

Hear how she was fortunate enough to have strong, female role models at home who encouraged her to follow her passion and to be curious. Also, the people at school and university who supported and encouraged her interests in bacteria. Now she is encouraging others to get involved in science   and promoting what a fantastic career, with great opportunities for girls/women as well as men. A career that has allowed her to travel the world, continue to develop her interests and get a job where she knows her work is helping others and saving lives.

Petra is very modest about the 100+ research articles she has been involved in, although admits she is the top article producer in Dstl at present! For her the important thing is being able to share research and developments amongst the international scientific community to assist in the development of collective knowledge.

Petra has also managed to juggle her career with having a family, thanks to her supportive husband but she recognises the compromises and sacrifices she has had to make to do that. Now she has more time for herself she has taken up running and is an enthusiastic member of a couple of running clubs in Salisbury. 

Listen to her 30 minute talk to find out more….

Interview and article by Jenny Hair
Petra Oyston

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