Cassy Dear – Graduate Tutor


My name is Cassy and welcome to Humbugs@TU! This is my first time blogging so while I’m figuring it out (and probably making some mistakes) I hope to eventually find my own blogger style.

Now a little bit about me…  I’m 29 years old from Hartlepool, I have a lively personality and for the first time ever I can say I actually enjoy my work. I live with my partner and our nine furry friends that I claim as my ‘babies’ (I know I sound crazy… maybe I am!).  My Graduate Tutor journey began in November 2016 and though it took me a long time to get here it was well worth the wait. Once I finished secondary school I decided to travel to various countries. I’ve always loved to explore new places and meet new people and while I put my education on hold I don’t regret my decision as I’ve learnt so much from the experience and it’s helped me become the person I am today.  I worked as a nursery nurse between globe-trotting which I adored, it was tough but at the same time rewarding, yet I couldn’t shake this feeling that something greater was out there for me. And so in 2012 I began studying for my degree in Biological Sciences, which lead me to the career I am working in today.

My undergraduate degree together with a year-long placement at Hart Biologicals Ltd provided me with a grounding in key biological theory and techniques. Throughout my placement I undertook a range of training, developed a suite of new laboratory skills and gained a thorough understanding of operating within a working laboratory. The placement gave me so much confident and afterwards I was ready to conquer my final year!

When I graduated from Teesside University in July 2016 I was open to all job opportunities, however I am lucky enough to say I’m now back at Teesside working as a Graduate Tutor and so far it has been an amazing experience. I am a full-time PhD student as well as a part-time Lecturer (studying towards PgCLTHE), which can be difficult at times but hey, nothing you want in life comes easy. I’m learning something new every day and I love it!  I have taught first and second year students in biosciences and forensic modules and despite thinking I wouldn’t enjoy teaching as much as the research, I actually think it can be a welcomed break.

My research is focused on preterm infants who are currently being cared for at the Royal Victoria Infirmary; I work very closely with the consultants on the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit who have kindly assisted me and my supervisors to focus the project towards a well-defined topic area.  The central aim of this project is ‘To define a baseline microbiome associated with health in preterm infants’. Many preterm infants suffer with devastating diseases such as Necrotising Enterocolitis, in which tissues in the intestine become inflamed and begin to die. Over the years there has been little progression towards the pathogenesis of this condition and still remains difficult to diagnose. Thus, the work in this study will be directed towards understanding the normal gut variation in non-diseased preterm infants, in hopes that it will lead us closer to formulating therapeutic interventions and reduce mortality rates.

To date, I have completed DNA extractions and quantification on stool samples from preterm infants at a laboratory within Northumbria University.  The next steps will be to perform quantitative polymerase chain reaction and next generation sequencing before working out statistics.

It is early days for me and I am excited about what the future holds for me here at Teesside! Keep a lookout for any updates I will post here throughout my Graduate Tutor journey.