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Suzanne Demirkaya

"I would never have thought of doing this job when I first began studying at Harper Adams but I love it."
Suzanne Demirkaya Suzanne working with Charlotte Elliott at ADAS

I am an… Assistant Research Technician

Suzanne Demirkaya, 25, is an Assistant Research Technician at ADAS, the UK’s largest independent provider of environmental solutions, rural development services and policy advice. She works on the organisation’s livestock unit, caring for the various farm animal species involved in scientific studies.

Suzanne, who graduated in 2011 with a BSc (Hons) Animal Behaviour and Welfare assists scientific and veterinary staff with sampling and observation of animals, keeps careful records of health, behaviour, feeding and veterinary treatments, and ensure the livestock accommodation is scrupulously clean. As with all staff, she must also follow strict biosecurity procedures when moving between groups of animals.

What did you like best about studying at Harper Adams?

Its rural location, agricultural heritage, the placement year, small student numbers on my course, great lecturers and facilities. The teaching is great with lots of one to one time while the facilities are constantly improving and expanding. There isn’t anywhere else like it and the ‘Harper spirit’ is something special.

What did you do on placement?  

I was an Animal Technician at the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency.

Was it useful?  

Yes, placement puts you ahead of other graduates in terms of skills and experience. I got involved in animal husbandry and assisting in scientific procedures. I became a much better stockperson and learnt a lot about animal health and research.  

What were the best things about placement?

Learning to live in the real world, and being able to apply knowledge that I had learnt on my course. It definitely improved my career prospects - my current employers were very impressed with what I could offer after already having spent a year in industry despite only just having graduated.

How has your qualification helped your career?

I use what I learnt in my degree daily to provide the greatest care for the animals I work with and to make handling/study work quick, smooth and minimally stressful for them.

How did you find your job at ADAS?

It was advertised in Farmers Weekly. I went to a formal interview after submitting a CV and covering letter.

What’s the best thing about your job?

I really enjoy working with a wide variety of animals - so far pigs, turkeys, chickens and sheep (including milking sheep). I am constantly learning about animal health and have a fascinating insight into the livestock feed and pharmaceutical industry.

What advice would you give to prospective students interested in a similar career?

Go for it, I never would have thought of this job when I started Harper Adams but I love it. It’s also not something there is a lot of knowledge in the public domain about. Working in animal research is not what most people expect due to the topic being taboo and many people having negative perceptions and this isn’t always correct. The skills are very valuable and transferable to many industries within the animal sector. 

Other stories you may be interested in:

More about animal research jobs: www.adas.co.uk

What do Assistant Research Technicians do?

Purpose of Job:  To provide a high level of care to farm animal species (cattle, sheep, pigs, poultry and horses) on scientific studies.  The studies are conducted to assist corporate clients develop farm animal health and feed additive products.  Livestock are housed in high quality, purpose built accommodation, which also provides a good working environment for staff.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Provide a high level of care to farm animal species (cattle, sheep, pigs, poultry and horses).
  • Assist scientific and veterinary staff with sampling and observation of animals.
  • Maintain meticulous records of health, behaviour, feeding and veterinary treatments.
  • Adhere to strict biosecurity procedures when moving between groups of animals.
  • Maintain livestock accommodation in a scrupulously clean condition.
  • Other duties as requested, e.g. general maintenance.

Performance Capabilities:

  • Carry out feeding, cleaning and general care of farm animals in a safe fashion in accordance with written procedures.
  • Assist others with observations of behaviour, sampling and treatment in accordance with written and verbal instructions.
  • Maintain clear and accurate records through excellent attention to detail to meet the requirements of each project, which can be Home Office Regulated studies and/or to GLP and GCP(v).
  • Carry out all activities to strict biosecurity procedures to maintain effective disease control.
  • Carry out activities flexibly and reliably working as part of a team, supporting others and taking responsibility for the success of the team and the projects.

Essential Job Requirements:

  • Physically capable of carrying out manual labour.

Desirable Job Requirements:

  • Able to operate farm machinery i.e. tractors, trailers, telescopic handlers, etc. in a safe manner.
  • Experienced in milking cows.
  • Home Office Personal License holder.


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