Senior Research Fellow, School of Engineering, Cranfield University, UK
Place of birth: UK
Educational background: PhD Optoelectronics Research Centre, University of Southampton, UK; BA Natural Sciences, Cambridge University, UK
Who or what inspired you to work in science/engineering?
It was in my bones - I can't imagine doing anything else. My parents encouraged me to follow my instincts even though none of us knew where that might lead. I had some great teachers and a copy of "Einstein for Beginners" as a teenager.
What are the primary responsibilities of your current job?
I lead a small team using optics to detect and measure gas concentrations that are of interest in industry, the environment, and medicine. I supervise three PhD students and two post-docs. I also keep the funding rolling in, write research proposals, and coordinate with industrial collaborators.
What is the biggest challenge you have overcome in your career?
I decided to move into academia after a career in industry. Fortunately, I was able to secure an Advanced Fellowship from the UK's EPSRC, which gave me the time to establish an academic career, and the flexibility to
take maternity leave and work part-time. My industrial experience is an advantage. I can have a different perspective, which in partnership with my colleagues, can lead to greater creativity.
What do you wish you had known when first starting out?
At school, I was advised to study engineering as the jobs for physicists were limited. It was NOT TRUE! I'm glad I majored in physics. Physicists crop up everywhere-including engineering.