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Working in Research

Wednesday 24 April 2024, from 6pm to 8pm, Exhibition Centre

Considering a career in research? Not sure what direction you want to take?

Working in Research is designed to help you gain an insight into the range of career opportunities related to research within the business environment and academia. The event will help you understand how to develop your own career ambitions by connecting with and learning from York graduates and other research professionals in an informal setting.

Choose between two Q&A panels of research professionals:

Arts and Humanities and Social Sciences panel

Chair:  Dr Sabine Clarke - Senior Lecturer in Modern History, University of York

Sabine is Senior Lecturer in Modern History at the University of York. Her books and articles focus on the history of science, technology and medicine in Britain and the British Empire in the 20th Century. This is her third career. After completing a degree in Biological Sciences, Sabine worked for two years as a Production Editor for a science publisher. She left to do a PGCE at the University of Oxford and then was employed for six years as a Science Teacher in a Secondary School in Birmingham. 

While teaching science she started to question the way that science is presented to children and began reading books in the philosophy of science. After hearing somebody on the radio discussing the history of science, she enrolled to do a MSc in the History and Philosophy of Science, Technology and Medicine at Imperial College in London, fully expecting to return to teaching afterwards. The MSc was a revelation however, and after gaining ESRC funding, Sabine did a PhD at Imperial, and then postdoc at Oxford, before joining York in 2010. She thinks her multidisciplinary background has been very important to her career and has no doubt that the experience of working in other sectors has been a real asset when it comes to teaching and researching as a historian in higher education.

Dr Oliver Betts - Research Lead, National Railway Musuem

Oliver finished his PhD in the History Department at York in 2014. He had undertaken lots of short term teaching at York during this time, and continued after completion as well as teaching at the University of Sheffield as a GTA. Oliver first joined the Railway Museum in 2015 as Research Associate - then a temporary contract, but after two years was made permanent and upgraded to a new, more responsible, Research Lead role. He's worked in that position since 2017, going part-time (0.8 FTE) during 2018-2020 as part of an AHRC Standard Grant role. In this position he works with students, Universities, and a range of external partners, creating a pathway for research and collaboration with the museum's collections and audiences. 

Lucy Gilder - Journalism Researcher, BBC News

Lucy is a journalism researcher at BBC News in London, where she researches and writes online articles covering topics such as immigration, crime, and social care. Before joining the BBC, Lucy was a research assistant in the home affairs and social policy team at Rand Europe, a Cambridge-based think tank. In this role she conducted interviews, analysed survey data, and wrote evaluation reports for a range of clients. Rand was Lucy’s first full-time job after graduating with an MPhil degree in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge in 2019. At this point she didn’t have a clear career path, but knew that she enjoyed research and learning about new topics. Before Cambridge Lucy worked as an English teacher in China and before that she sold pies at Oldham Athletic Football Club. Her first degree was in English and History at the University of York.

Matthew Smith - Government Social Research Officer, HMRC

Matthew started work with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) as a Decision Maker, in November 2020 after finishing his masters in Social Research at the University of York. From there he moved to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to work as a Personal Assistant and Analyst in a team called Covid 19 and Health Protection Analysis. Whilst there he worked on a broad range of topics, including Covid, vaccinations, the winter fuel crisis and NHS workforce improvements. After ~15 months Matthew moved to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) to work as a project manager on the Electoral Integrity Programme. Whilst there he supported the development of secondary legislation to implement wide ranging electoral reforms, and supported the setup of evaluation plans for measures including Voter ID.

Since July 2023, Matthew has been working as a Government Social Research Officer (GSR) in His Majesty's Revenue and Custom's (HMRC) Behaviour, Insight and Research (BIR) team. He works on customer focused research, to understand if HMRC's services meet taxpayer needs, if they are value for money, and how they can be improved. As a research officer Matthew mostly designs and commissions research projects to external research agencies. However he has undertaken some primary research as part of a programme to bring shorter research projects in house.

Stephanie Vincent - Lead data Analytics Consultant, Hippo Digital

Stephanie began her career doing qualitative and quantitative analysis for a higher education consultancy. She has since worked for a university, a charity, and an e-commerce company. She has now joined a tech consultancy working with public and private sector clients to support them in a range of analytics and data science projects. Over the course of her career, she has transitioned from using primarily Excel to developing skills in business intelligence tools such as Tableau and Alteryx, and programming languages including Python, R and SQL. Given the breadth of clients she deals with, she has developed knowledge of a good range of data and web analytics products.

Stephanie also manages a small team of analysts, is a trained coach and is passionate about supporting routes into tech for women and all young people.

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Sciences and Engineering panel

Chair: Prof Alison Laird, School of PET, University of York

Alison completed her BSc in Physics at the University of Edinburgh and then continued her studies there with a PhD in nuclear astrophysics. After graduation, she spent two years working for Qinetiq in Hampshire, before accepting a post-doctoral position in nuclear astrophysics at the TRIUMF Laboratory, in Vancouver, Canada.

Subsequently, she moved to the University of York to take up a lectureship. Her research involves experimental measurements of the nuclear reactions that power stars and stellar explosions, and are responsible for the creation of the chemical elements. These measurements are performed at international accelerator facilities in North America and Europe. 

Anna Alessi - Research Project Manager, Biorenewables Development Centre, University of York

Anna completed her MSc degree in Industrial Biotechnology at the University of Łodz, Poland in 2007, followed by PhD in Molecular Microbiology at the University of East Anglia in 2011. In 2012, she joined the University of York's Department of Biology and worked as a postdoctoral researcher on two large, multidisciplinary collaborative projects. She gained expertise in anaerobic digestion and analysis of complex microbial communities. In 2019, she transitioned to the Biorenewables Development Centre, an open-access R&D centre based at the University of York. She undertook a role as the research project manager on a collaboration between the UK and India.

Currently, Anna manages a diverse portfolio of projects exploring novel food production systems, industrial biotechnology for bio-based products and bioenergy production. Anna also serves as a PM for a £4M BBSRC-funded project at the Department of Biology, led by Prof Gavin Thomas, which includes academic partners from the Universities of York, Cambridge, Newcastle, and Nottingham.

Anna’s passion lies in research-led initiatives that bridge academia and industry, focusing on the commercialisation of biobased products and processes.

Alice Rose - Research and Intelligence Officer, Healthwatch North Yorkshire

Having completed her Undergraduate and Master's degree in Psychology at the University of York, Alice became the Research and Intelligence Officer for Healthwatch North Yorkshire. In this role she conducts quantitative and qualitative research to gather patient experiences of health and social care services. She produces reports from this research and works with stakeholders to ensure the public’s voice is used to inform service delivery and strategy. Alice feels it’s great to utilise the skills she developed through her academic studies and the volunteering opportunities she was involved with at York to help influence positive change within the health sector.

George Tattersall - Research Engineer, Foundry

George entered his computer science undergraduate at York with the knowledge he wanted to work on the performance aspects of computer graphics. While at York, he focused his modules towards computer graphics, and switched on to an industrial placement course during first year to help gain experience. Luckily, his placement was spent in C++ at IBM. Upon returning to York, he completed his degree; published his final project as a paper; and applied for a postgraduate degree in computer graphics at Leeds.

George was accepted to Leeds and spent a year studying there. The experience gave him a great opportunity to work on the specific skills his education had been leading up to.

After graduating from Leeds, he was able to secure his dream job in the games industry, however it quickly became apparent it wasn't for him, leading him to pivot in to VFX. George originally worked as a software engineer, before moving within the company to become a real-time research engineer.

Matthew Walton - Research Fellow, Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, University of York

Matt graduated from the Biology Department in 2015, following a year in industry at the DEFRA Food and Environment Research Agency (now Fera Science). He then joined York's Centre for Reviews and Dissemination on a 2-year Research Training Fellowship (including an MSc in health research) funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

Matt transitioned into a research fellowship in Health Technology Assessment, and since 2018 has been a Health Economist at York. His research, centred on statistical synthesis of trial data and the development of economic models, involves the assessment of new pharmaceutical and diagnostic technologies to shape national policy on their use within the National Health Service. This work has included providing analysis and expert advice to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Appraisal Committees on a variety of gene therapies and cancer drugs.

Matt has also published over 35 peer-reviewed journal articles and commissioned reports in this area.

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