HOHC: Catherine Fontinelle, Lead Scientist
Catherine Fontinelle, Lead Scientist, Bacteriology
“I’ve loved science since I was a child, but at school I wasn’t aware of the career opportunities it could provide. In Sixth Form I went on a Women in Science and Engineering course at Imperial College and discovered Biological Science. The course made for a lot of firsts: it was the first time I’d been away from home, and I spent five days in halls of residence with a group of budding female scientists. It was my first experience of a modern laboratory facility – not a wooden bench in sight! – and it was the first time I realised I wanted to be a Scientist.
“I chose a Medical Microbiology unit as part of my degree, which was taught by a Biomedical Scientist from St Mary’s Hospital. I loved it, and as a graduate applied for my first position with St Mary’s Bacteriology department. That was 30 years ago, and I still enjoy my job every single day! I count myself very lucky to feel that way about work.
“I joined Epsom and St Helier 12 years ago, and took over as acting Lead Scientist in Bacteriology last January. I love this job, and I do something different every day. This hospital is full of kind, caring staff which is what makes it such a great place to work. Biomedical Sciences is not the most visible career, but it is incredibly satisfying. In the lab we analyse different samples to identify bacteria causing infections, and from there treatment begins to start healing the patient; it’s a bit like being part of a detective team!
"Out of work I swap my lab coat for sequins, as my husband and I compete at national level in ballroom and Latin. In our category, we’re ranked 33rd in the country for Latin, and 86th for ballroom. It’s very different to the lab, but I love it! We were entered for a Blackpool competition the weekend after the current lockdown, but it was postponed. We came third in Latin at Blackpool last year, so we’re using this extra time to practice so that we might take the trophy this year!
“I feel very grateful to work with an amazing team, within Microbiology and throughout the Trust. They are so supportive, and together we always do our absolute best for our patients. I can’t think of a job I’d rather do.”