Being part of a world-renowned research institute is a great privilege, and it is exciting to be part of a team carrying out cutting-edge science
. I have been in my current role of Information Specialist for over 15 years. My work involves facilitating the scientific management of research projects in a large lab whose focus is cancer research. I enjoy the varied nature of my job, everything from costing grant applications to tweeting about our latest research findings. I also enjoy working in an academic environment with a fantastic group of extremely talented and highly motivated scientists.
I have been very fortunate that my post has allowed me to work part-time.
This is something that is much harder for bench-based scientists, and I have been able to continue to work while raising my family. I have a BSc (London) and PhD (Edinburgh) in Biochemistry. I have nine years' postdoctoral experience in human molecular genetics and several years’ experience working in small start-up drug discovery companies doing computer-based biological research.
There have been a number of important turning points in my career.
I reached a point in my postdoc career when I realised I could not continue bench research and was forced to re-evaluate my skills and explore alternative career options. Another came when I was made redundant while working for a small start-up business. Having a job in the morning, but finding myself unemployed a few hours later was quite traumatic. I had to act very quickly to find a new post, all while juggling a young family.
I think it’s important to remember that careers change, and the path you set out on might not lead to where you thought you’d end up
. Think laterally - academic, bench-based research trains you in many skills that are applicable to other alternative careers.
On a daily basis, I can be doing any number of things.
These might involve monitoring the scientific literature, writing reports and grant applications, or editing Wikipedia pages. I also oversee lab funding and staff recruitment, assist with research publications from first drafts through to the final proof-reading stage, write press releases and other publicity materials, and deal with anything else that crosses my desk!
There is so much fascinating science happening in Cambridge
. Recently I’ve been working with Professor Jackson on a European Research Council Synergy Grant application. This is a multi-disciplinary, multi-centred proposal whose aim is to use the latest technologies in gene editing and chemical biology to study DNA-damage response pathways. We aim to identify new therapeutic agents for diseases such as cancer and neurodegeneration. Preparing such a large application has been a challenging task, requiring coordinating with multiple partners. We will hear later in the year whether this application has been accepted, which could lead to some very exciting research.