Lecturer

What do you do for a living?

I'm a lecturer at Edinburgh University.  I lecture plant biology, ecology and physiology

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?

I've always been interested in the natural world and enjoyed biology at school.  Very little advice was available - in fact I don't ever remember receiving any!

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today? (talk perhaps about education/choices/university, college, training or apprenticeships/ CPD or professional exams/job progression)

I did sciences at Standard Grade level (called 'O' levels years ago), then 'A' levels in Biology, Chemistry and Maths.  I then did a degree in Plant Biology at Lancaster University.  After that I moved to Imperial College, part of London University, to do a PhD.  I then did three post-doctoral research contracts and a qualification in University teaching and finally got my proper job aged 31!

Talk me through a day in your life... what sorts of things would it involve?

It's extremely varied.  I normally give a one hour lecture at some point and may give a three hour practical class.  Different members of staff within our department have different responsibilities and apart from lecturing my main two jobs are:

i) Being a Personal Tutor
This means I have a group of students (about 25 of them) who I 'look after'.  I see them at the start of every semester (term) and advise them about their course choice and talk to them about study skills and problems they might be having with their studying.  I also see them for short catch-up meetings throughout the semester.  I look after the same students for all of their four year degree.

ii) Being the Selector
This means I 'select' which students can come and do our degree (in Ecological and Environmental Sciences).  Lots more people apply for a place on the course than we have spaces for, so many applicants have to be turned away.  I see their University application form (called an UCAS form) and decide (along with people in the College office) who to accept.

I also supervise PhD students and do my own research into plant-insect interactions.  I write this work up into 'academic papers' and publish it in scientific journals.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?

Not at all.  I didn't ever plan my career - it just sort of happened!

What did your mum and dad want you to do?

No idea!

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?

It's a great job, but lots of people want to do it and it's extremely competitive.  It also takes a very long time to train and you don't get paid much.

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?

I could teach in schools or work in a research organisation.  I could work for Environmental Consultancy companies or publishers.  I could also use my degree and experience as a way into general managerial jobs - I suppose!
 

 I might be useful for students filling in their UCAS form as I see lots of them and know what we look for