A day in the life of the Future Space Lab Tech
Tiffany Cordier is our very own lab technician, ensuring that our on-site facilities are maintained to a high standard and meet the requirements of the customers based here at Future Space.
We caught up with Tiffany to find out a little more about the lab space on offer at the centre and about what her role as technician entails.
In your opinion, what are the main benefits of the on-site lab facilities here at Future Space?
The labs at Future Space offer customers a prime location to carry out their research with state-of-the-art facilities and endless collaboration opportunities. Not only do the labs mean that customers can work alongside other companies and find out about their research, they can also benefit from the UWE talent pool and University Enterprise Zone (UEZ) network right on their doorstep.
It’s a busy lab but there’s plenty of space still available for new companies, and everyone is very friendly too. It’s a flexible and private working space, separate from the offices.
Future Space also works closely with customers when they first join the centre to ensure they have what they need for their research. In terms of equipment, the labs have an extensive range which covers most bases, but if there’s anything additional required, customers can take advantage of the links with UWE and the Health Tech Hub and the equipment on offer there too.
Please can you tell us more about your role?
As Future Space lab technician, it’s my responsibility to ensure the on-site laboratories meet the right standards for customer use. That means it’s up to me to make sure that the equipment is running properly, the required gases are available, the liquid nitrogen is full – that sort of thing. If there’s a problem – if a fridge breaks, for example – I will be the point of contact for the engineers to get it fixed.
The other side of my role covers health and safety as the labs are a hazardous environment, so I need to be aware of what our customers are working on, what chemicals and substances they’re using and what equipment they need for their research.
As much as the companies working here need to protect their IP, they also need to be as transparent as possible with what biological/chemical agents they will be working with and if they use any GMOs, etc. This is essential not only from a health and safety point of view but also to ensure that the research conducted complies with current legislation.
How long have you been working at Future Space?
I’ve been working as a lab technician here for nearly six months now. I’m currently pursuing a research master’s degree at UWE so this is a part-time role that complements my studies.
My undergraduate degree was in Biological Sciences, also from UWE, and alongside my studies I also worked as an assistant scientist at a water company within the microbiology department. This experience gave me knowledge of (and a keen interest in!) good and safe lab practice as well as understanding of health and safety legislation.
What might your typical day look like?
First thing in the morning, my main priorities are checking that the lab is safe, the equipment is functioning, and our customers are happy with their working environment. It’s important to me to build those relationships with the businesses that are based here and using the labs so that there’s a level of trust and they feel they’re receiving adequate support from Future Space as their host.
I then go through customer orders and requests, making sure that the labs are equipped with what is needed for particular research projects. Because of the breadth of activity in our labs, we have a great relationship with a range of leading scientific suppliers and I spend a lot of time liaising with them regarding specific orders.
As rare as they are, I also need to be prepared for any emergencies – we’re very reactive to such occurrences. As part of that preparation, I check all the alarms are working, that waste is being handled correctly and that personal protective equipment (PPE) is up to scratch.
Future Space is growing all the time – what do you think this means for the lab space?
The labs are getting busier which is fantastic and will probably mean that Future Space will soon be able to offer even more lab support to its customers. At the moment, the companies based at the hub are able to hire me to provide additional assistance as I am lab trained and hopefully more and more will take advantage of this as the lab community grows.
We are seeing increasing numbers of customers based in the labs also utilising the business innovation support on offer at Future Space too which is very positive. We’re helping to bridge that gap between PhD students and researchers becoming business owners, and we’re looking forward to seeing this continue.
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