Introducing another new member of the VH Bio team, Joshua Petch, our Molecular Biology Technical Sales Specialist!
Describe what your job entails.
My job involves meeting with clients and discussing their molecular biology needs, then identifying the products from our range that would be most useful to them. I also provide technical support to our existing clients including training, demonstrations and troubleshooting.
What is your career and/or educational background?
Before joining VH Bio I was a research scientist principally based in molecular biology but with some materials chemistry on the side. I did my Master’s in Molecular Biotechnology at the University of Birmingham, where I got hooked by prokaryote genetics. Following this, I did my PhD at the University of Nottingham where we developed a system to selectively isolate bacteria from mixed populations by combining control of their expression of sugar-binding proteins with sugar polymer-coated magnetic particles and, surprisingly, it actually worked! I had to learn far more chemistry than I ever expected and develop some serious resilience, but it was an enlightening experience. I then spent a year and a half as a Research Fellow on a project where we tried to use sugar polymers to influence the behaviour of human immune cells.
What do you think sets VH Bio apart as an employer?
We are a small, close-knit group of friendly people. As a result, I feel like a valued member of the team here, as opposed to another cog in the machine. Our molecular biology team are all scientists by training too and I think this empowers us to really understand the needs of our customers.
In your opinion, what is the greatest advancement in the history of science?
That’s a pretty big question so I’m going to cheat and not going to narrow it down to just one. Societally, probably the invention of the printing press or the discovery of antibiotics.
However, being a molecular biology nerd, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I wasn’t immediately drawn to the discovery of the double-helical structure of DNA (Watson, Crick & Franklin), the invention of the polymerase chain reaction (Kary Mullis) & Sanger sequencing (Frederick Sanger). These three innovations are the foundations of our field.
When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a doctor until I discovered I hate needles and am squeamish about blood vessels. So I got a doctorate in something a little less messy instead.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I love combat sports and was a keen martial artist in my youth. I’ve been fencing for the better part of a decade and it’s my sport of choice these days. I’m an avid fantasy reader and always have a book going, I’ve been working my way through the Stormlight Archives during the lockdown. My partner and I are big foodies, so we love to cook and try new foods. I’m also really into the real ale and craft beer scene and love trying an interesting new pint. I’m quite lucky that Nottingham has a wealth of microbrewers and good pubs available, but it’s definitely made me into a bit of a beer snob!
What is your favourite animal?
Chameleons, they are so weirdly unique. I would love a pet one if my cat wouldn’t eat it!
What was the worst job you’ve ever had?
I worked in an airport bar between terms in my undergraduate and masters. My colleagues were great, and meeting people from all around the world was exciting but the hours were dreadful. A day would not end until all flights had left, even if there were severe delays.
Describe your perfect weekend.
I’d bring together a bunch of friends and family, sit out in the garden with the barbeque going, listen to some great music and work our way through some good food and a case of beer.
What is your favourite film?
The Matrix, probably still the benchmark for cyber-dystopian cinema and the idea of being able to load kung fu training straight into your brain blew me away as a teenager.
What has been keeping you busy during lockdown?
My partner and I bought our first house so transforming it into our home has taken up most of our time over the last few months, I’m still fighting to get the garden under control. We also got a kitten and tried to keep in contact with friends through weekend barbeques (while the rule of 6 was active) and online board game sessions.
If you had to eat one meal, every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Something with the potential for lots of variety. Curry perhaps?
If you were stuck on an island what three things would you bring?
A comfy camping chair, a huge stack of books and a snorkel and mask. May as well enjoy it.
What is the first concert you attended?
I couldn’t even tell you the bands that were playing but it was a showcase of small, local metal bands at a tiny venue in Birmingham. I was just happy to be there.
5 famous people – dead or alive – that you would invite to a dinner party?
Bruce Dickinson, Brian Cox, Brandon Sanderson, David Attenborough & Christopher Lee