Tanya Curtis, CEO and founder Curtis Analytics, was invited to conclude the 2019 Rothamsted Research PhD Student Symposium as a guest speaker. As a former Rothamsted Research PhD student, Tanya’s presentation included information about her research into acrylamide, her career since leaving Rothamsted and how she set up the hugely successful Curtis Analytics business.

Her talk was attended by a large number of students, who also had the opportunity to quiz her at the end. “Her talk was very inspirational,” was a comment left by Patricia Sokolowska, PhD Student. “Fantastic presentation,” said Matt Dale, final-year PhD student. “I never really considered going into business, but after her fantastic talk and the advice she gave us, I am thinking about it. I also learnt a lot about acrylamide, which is super, super interesting,” concluded Matt. Sarah Rafan, whose PhD project work also focuses on acrylamide, said that Tanya’s work “has been influential in her project”. She also added that “Tanya’s presentation was inspiring”.

Donna Fellowes, PhD Studentship Officer and organiser of the event, spoke with us about the symposium and what she thought of Tanya’s presentation. “I’ve known Tanya for many years, since she was a Rothamsted PhD student. I’ve seen her grow in her job and her new business. For me it’s inspiring, and I thought it would be great for the students to see what they can achieve after finishing a PhD and post-doctoral position here at Rothamsted. I loved listening to Tanya’s talk, she is such a motivated person.”

Professor Nigel Halford, Tanya’s former PhD supervisor also attended the Symposium. “I thought it was a good talk, inspirational. I think she could have taken many paths after finishing her PhD. She has a tremendous work ethic which translates well into business. Not everyone can do it, but Tanya obviously can. I am really proud of Tanya and what she achieved.”

After her presentation had finished, Tanya commented: “I am very happy that students consider starting a business because we always need people in specific areas of expertise. I have happy memories about the PhD Symposium which I attended as a PhD student. I loved the experience; my most memorable time was presenting posters and having one to one discussions about our research.” Tanya’s piece of advice for PhD students who are thinking of starting a business is simple: “Start early”.

The Rothamsted Research PhD Students Symposium 2019 included final year students’ presentations, 2 minutes poster talks, networking and discussion sessions and was hosted by the Rothamsted Enterprises Conference Centre