‘Thanks Keighley!’ – top research scientist recalls college days

An expert in developmental biology has thanked Keighley College for providing him with the platform to embark on a distinguished scientific career.

Dr Matthew Towers is currently a senior researcher at the University of Sheffield with a specialist interest in limb development.

To reach that esteemed position, he studied at a number of universities around the UK – but can trace the start of his scientific endeavours back to Keighley College.

Excellent support and a focus on STEM

He said: “I attended Keighley College between 1991 and 1995, first studying for GCSEs and then A levels.

“The team there was very supportive and provided excellent mentorship. I enjoyed the adult-oriented learning environment, and mixing with other students of different ages and backgrounds.

“I flourished at Keighley College because I was able to study STEM-based subjects without being distracted by other activities that I had not been interested in at school.”

Matthew went on to obtain a BSc in genetics from the University of Leeds, and a PhD in plant developmental biology from The John Innes Centre, in Norwich.

Deciding that he wanted to specialise in a medically-related field, he then did postdoctoral work at the Universities of Dundee and Bath, studying how limbs develop in the embryo,.

In 2010, Matthew moved to the University of Sheffield, where he is a reader of developmental biology. He has since opened his own research laboratory with initial support from the  Medical Research Council and now, the Wellcome Trust.

He said: “My research still focuses on limb development, for instance on how the correct type of digit forms in the correct position.”

Recalling his college days, he added: “I remember my time at Keighley College fondly, and I am grateful that it helped me start my career.”

Click here to find out more about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) courses at Keighley College.