Stories about the people, science and research of the Medical Research Council.
12 Dec 2017
Science and technology evolve together, each pushing the boundaries to enable new discoveries and cutting-edge research. But despite the critical contributions of technology skills specialists, their roles and careers are often overlooked. Thankfully that’s changing – helped by the Technician Commitment and recent Research Councils UK statement – as Kelly Vere, Technical Skills Development Manager at the University of Nottingham and Higher Education Engagement Manager at the Science Council, explains.
Kelly Vere. Image credit: University of Nottingham
It’s often forgotten that science is a team sport. Everyone has a part to play, including a group of staff particularly key to the majority of research teams: the technologists.
So who are the technologists?
Technologists are a crucial part of scientific research teams. They make critical, intellectual contributions to research by providing core technical excellence and by maintaining and developing new technologies and methodologies. [...]
Continue reading: Times are changing for technologists
8 Mar 2017
On International Women’s Day we explore the working life of Dr Nessa Carey, International Director at PraxisUnico, Visiting Professor at Imperial College and an author. She shares her multi-career path, tips for success and the importance of saying ‘yes’ to new opportunities.
Career in brief
- Five years in the Metropolitan Police Forensic Laboratory
- Part-time BSc in Immunology
- PhD in Virology, University of Edinburgh
- Postdoc in Human Genetics, Charing Cross and Westminster Hospital Medical School
- Lectureship and Senior Lectureship in Molecular Biology, Imperial College London
- 13 years in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry
Continue reading: Working life: International Director at PraxisUnico Dr Nessa Carey
24 Oct 2016
SUSTAIN is a year-long programme of training, mentoring and peer networking for women in science. With the programme now open for new applicants, clinician and researcher Dr Alessia David gives us her experience of SUSTAIN.
I joined the SUSTAIN programme at a crucial moment in my career. It was during the final year of my MRC fellowship and I was due to make major decisions about my next steps. I was feeling overwhelmed by the challenges of delivering high-quality research, building a successful career in a competitive environment and raising two little children. [...]
Continue reading: SUSTAIN: a programme for women researchers
5 Oct 2016
We’ve been working with seven other medical funders to create a ‘funding view’ of the interactive career map. The ‘funding view’ will help you find which grant or fellowship is the right one for you. During his three-month MRC Policy Internship Andrew Eustace, PhD student at the University of Bristol, helped us test the map. Here he explains how it will help with career planning.
After months of thesis writing I begin to catch a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. Like all students at this stage, I’m starting to think about what to do next. Do I pursue a career in academia, industry, or leave science altogether?
A career in scientific research can mean short-term contracts and long working hours. Despite this, you might, like me, still be inspired by scientific research and so assessing the postdoctoral job market.
Once you’ve made that choice, it is almost time to make another: what will you do after a postdoc? [...]
Continue reading: Taking the funding view to find the grant for me
16 Sep 2015
Dr Donald J. Davidson is an inflammation biologist and MRC Senior Non-Clinical Fellow at the MRC Centre for Inflammation Research. Here he tells us about his working life, and why he considers communicating research just as important as doing it.
Career in brief
- Medical degree, followed by two years as a lab technician
- Self-funded part-time PhD in cystic fibrosis pathogenesis at the MRC Human Genetics Unit
- Four research fellowships, including four years in Canada
I never really mapped out my career. The main thing that brought me into science was a natural curiosity – I always want to know how things work. Planning is important, but it helps to be flexible and I’ve taken opportunities as they’ve arisen, even if they’ve seemed a little unconventional at the time. Everyone from my clinical professors to my bank manager thought I was making the wrong choice when I gave up my clinical career, but it was the correct decision.
Despite my clinical training I follow a non-clinical scientist route now. I’d really enjoyed science at school, but I felt that I should do medicine. There was lots of rote learning, I didn’t enjoy the way the course was taught, and ultimately I wasn’t convinced I wanted to be a doctor, so I left medicine when I graduated in 1992. I did return briefly to complete my clinical training in order to get a clinician scientist post – but by then I had discovered medical research science! [...]
Continue reading: Working life: Dr Donald J. Davidson
14 Oct 2014
Professor Dame Carol Robinson is Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oxford. Here she tells us about her working life, from becoming fascinated with mass spectrometry to the inspirational role of mentors.
I didn’t take the conventional route to get to where I am today. I actually left school at 16, which was a common thing to do in my school at the time. I’d always been interested in chemistry, so I got a job as a lab technician at Pfizer which was my nearest pharmaceutical company.
After working on various analytical techniques, including chromatography, used to separate mixtures of substances, and nuclear magnetic resonance to determine the structure of organic compounds, I found myself in the mass spectrometry lab, which I found fascinating.
I was lucky in that my supervisors picked up on my obvious passion and fledgling ability early on. They encouraged me to take various part-time courses, which after seven years of hard work resulted in a degree and a place at Cambridge to study for a PhD. [...]
Continue reading: Working life: Carol Robinson
13 Jul 2012
Alex Brand (copyright: Alex Brand)
Alex Brand of the University of Aberdeen studies how a fungus called Candida albicans navigates around the body. She told Katherine Nightingale about how her interest in science was piqued down on the farm and — for her, at least — scientific life began at 40.
Some people get into science because of an inspiring teacher, others due to an insatiable curiosity to find out how the world works. Alex Brand got into science because she bought a small farm.
The farm was in Scotland, where Alex and her husband were posted with his job in the oil industry. It was the latest in a string of placements that had taken them all over the world — and Alex through a series of jobs from announcing the sports news in Indonesia to running a poster agency in Qatar.
“I’d left school with secretarial qualifications in the days when very few people went to university, but I still had a really enjoyable and varied career in lots of different fields,” says Alex.
Running a farm requires a surprising amount of science, from checking the water supply for nitrates and other pollutants to diagnosing disease in livestock. [...]
Continue reading: Profile: Alex Brand