I trained as a chemist and then undertook a PhD in polymer physics. After working several years as a researcher in the oil industry and then as a lecturer in chemistry, declining oil industry fortune and the closure of multiple chemistry departments across the UK forced me to consider a change in research direction.
As a result, I got a post as a researcher for a dental company which lead to me being able to gain a lectureship position at the Eastman Dental Institute. I am now a Professor of Biomaterials developing new materials for repair of tooth and bone.
My teaching primarily involves supervision of research projects being undertaken by both dentists and scientists. At the Eastman I particularly enjoy the interaction l have with students from a diverse range of clinical, scientific and cultural backgrounds.
During much of my career I have worked in departments that have been almost entirely male. The greatest problem this caused was the limited support within the sector available when my son was born. I found being a woman in academia with children was challenging: the cost of childcare is high in comparison to the salary and, in academia, you sometimes have to move to find the right role, so it can be disruptive for your family.
During my career I have also faced multiple periods of redundancy. Each time I was forced into new areas of research. Whilst at the time this made life difficult, it made me much broader in my outlook, which in the end has helped me to be successful in a multidisciplinary field.
I enjoy being able to develop solutions to medical problems that affect the majority of the world's population. I love the complexity of the problems, being able to work with people with multiple clinical, scientific and industrial backgrounds and the continuing need to learn.
Professor of Biomaterials, UCL Eastmand Dental Institute
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