Calysta apprentice’s joy at working on world-leading technology
Not every apprentice can say the work they’re doing could help change the world – but one 19-year old Teessider can say exactly that after joining alternative protein producer Calysta.
Lexie Scott, who lives in Whitby, works across three different labs at Calysta’s research and development facilities at the Wilton Centre near Redcar.
The company is the world-leader at producing protein through a technology called gas-based fermentation, using a natural process to convert methane to a single-cell protein ideal for use in food and feed products.
And while she is still trying to come to terms with how she describes what she does to friends and family, Lexie is loving her new life in the lab.
“It’s been really interesting, I’ve really enjoyed it so far. When I left school I couldn’t decide on a course for uni, which is why I went for college then an apprenticeship. I’ll be honest I had no idea what Calysta did at first.
“However, everyone at Calysta has been encouraging and welcoming so I really enjoy my work. Each day is different and it has been great to get hands-on experience. I am working with world-leading technology, which does mean it can sometimes take a long time to describe my job to other people, especially as I am the first person in my family to go into a science role.”
Lexie’s day-to-day role covers every stage of Calysta’s production process, covering fermentation, analytics and microbiology. Lexie has enjoyed seeing how the different processes work and the tests used to ensure the protein produced is of the highest quality. While many of the tasks have been completely new to her, she has been able to put to use some of the experience she gained from her A-levels.
“I now work with equipment that my chemistry teachers mentioned at school but never had access to – it would be their dream to see inside the Calysta labs”, she said.
Prior to starting her apprenticeship, Lexie took A-Levels at college, studying biology, chemistry and geography. Lexie considered going into university, however found it difficult to decide on one course as she enjoyed all three subjects. An apprenticeship at Calysta allows Lexie to continue learning about biology and chemistry in the lab, but she also loves that Calysta’s work has a huge focus on sustainability, something she was passionate about from her geography lessons at college.
Geoff Bryant, Calysta’s Chief Technology Officer, said: “Lexie is a fantastic asset to the team at Teesside. She is keen to learn and is excelling in her work, especially in the microbiology lab where she will soon have her own areas of responsibility. She’s as passionate as we are about making the world more sustainable, so I think she enjoys seeing how we are going to make that happen.
“Lexie’s apprenticeship is a great experience for the team, who enjoy working with her and bringing her up to speed with the technology and how we work.”
Lexie, who said her dream job is to own a wildlife sanctuary, added: “I’d recommend a science-based apprenticeship to anyone, especially if you are undecided about the university or course you want to take. My Mum was supportive throughout my apprenticeship application, especially when teachers at college made me feel like university was the only route and never mentioned a career like mine. Do your research on different companies and keep applying, trust that you will end up somewhere that is right for you.”