Carolyn Fitzsimmons - Research Scientist

Carolyn Fitzsimmons

Research Scientist, Bovine Gentics, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Improving beef production through a greater understanding of bovine genetics.

I was born/grew up in: Colonsay, Saskatchewan, Canada

I now live in: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

I completed my training/education at: University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon (BSc, MSc), and Uppsala University, Sweden (PhD)

Describe what you do at work.

Many of my daily activities involve organization - data, experiments, people who work for me. I use my science background to review papers, articles students have written, write proposals, and grant reports. I organize lectures and assignments for the class I teach - Applied Beef Production. During the semester I often answer questions from students about class, both via email and in person.

When I was a student I enjoyed:

How does your job affect people’s lives?

My research helps the beef industry in Alberta understand and use new genetics methods in an effective manner. My teaching responsibilities help undergraduates at the U of A learn about the beef industry in Alberta and Canada, and helps to prepare them for life after university.

What motivates you in your career?

I enjoy solving logic problems, and that is how I view genetics, like it is one big logic problem that we don't have all the pieces to yet. I also like when a theory I have based an experiment on shows through in the results - very cool. I'm still at the start of my career so I hope these results can one day benefit producers, but that is a long journey.

When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:

Describe your career path to this career.

I originally wanted be be a veterinarian. But I took some genetics courses in my 3rd year of undergrad that got me interested, and did a research project in my 4th year that got me hooked. Then I did my Master's at the U of S. After completing I took a job as a research technician at Iowa State University. I wanted to learn more about livestock genetics from a different angle and make money to pay off some of my student loans. Then I went on to do a PhD in Sweden after I met a few student at ISU who introduced me to their supervisor. Afterwards I did a Post-doc in Australia because I always wanted to go there, wanted to work with cattle again, and was not ready to come back to Canada yet. After 3 years I applied for the job i have now.

What activities do you like to do outside of work?

I exercise to relax. I do a boot-camp outside year-round. Plus I got into running long distances after I came to Edmonton. I like being outside and the people who run are fun. I'm trying to start volunteering with the MS Society, but it is hard to find time.

What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?

Do what makes you happy! You don't need to make a million dollars, but reality is that you have to support yourself. Don't be afraid to change your mind about what makes you happy.

CurioCity Careers

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