Our panellists - New Year's Goals: Successful career planning for researchers

Dr Daniel Keech

Research Fellow, CCRI, University of Gloucestershire

Dan joined the CCRI in 2012, and contributes to international research projects on city-regional food networks, and food supply chain performance. He also contributes to research within environmental humanities, specifically the link between art and environmental change. From 2013- 2015 Dan led the Sustainable Food and Food Security module within the University’s MSc on Sustainable Environments. He is a visiting lecturer at Masaryk University in Brno (CZ), Schumacher College in Devon, and at Cardiff University.

He has twenty years’ experience of working for food and environment organisations, including the former London Ecology Unit, Common Ground, Sustain, New Economics Foundation and the Soil Association. In 2004 Dan helped establish structures for the Mayor of London’s food policy council, for which he received a Mayoral commendation award for services to Londoners.

A former Winston Churchill Memorial Scholar, Dan’s PhD (supported by the Frederick Soddy Trust) investigated how social enterprises in England and Germany achieve environmental objectives (orchard conservation) by making interventions in the market. Dan is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society-Institute of British Geographers, a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a former Associate Fellow of the Third Sector Research Centre (2011-13).

Dr Stephanie Harper

Senior Ecologist, Arup

Dr Stephanie Harper joined Arup at their Midlands Campus (Solihull) in November 2015 as a senior ecologist. She is a competent botanist, specialising in the design of mitigation and compensation measures including ‘green roofs’, and holds a Natural England class licence for bat surveying (level 1). She is also experienced in surveying for amphibians, reptiles, badger, dormouse and breeding birds. Her other practice areas include environmental impact assessment, contaminated land (including project management of ground investigations) and phase I environmental site assessment. Stephanie has worked on projects within the renewable energy, infrastructure, residential, commercial and industrial sectors. Recent career highlights include working on the Environmental Statement for a National Strategic Infrastructure Planning (NSIP) gas pipeline project in North Yorkshire, and project managing and producing an Ecological Impact Assessment with a detailed biodiversity offsetting scheme for a greenfield development site in the Midlands which has multiple protected species present onsite including dormouse.


Dr Alex Conner FRSB

Senior lecturer at University of Birmingham Medical School, SFHEA.

Trainer of Transferable Skills and Coach.

Dr Alex Conner is a Senior Lecturer of Medical Sciences at the University of Birmingham. He is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology. He teaches “the easy bits of the medicine course before we need proper doctors” and has a small research group studying the structure and function of water channels in health and disease, especially heart disease and neurotrauma. Alex increasingly works in science communication facilitating discussions, talking about science to people without a traditional science background and showing off on stage.

Fiona Colligan, Piirus 

With over 20 years’ experience in the public sector and higher education sector, Fiona specialises in information management, knowledge management and online service development. As founder of piirus.ac.uk – a matching service for researchers this brings together Fiona’s knowledge of researcher needs, particularly when working across career, disciplinary and international boundaries.


Eve Uhlig

Careers Consultant - Loughborough University. Licensed Trainer - Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway®


Dr Rosemary Bass 

Careers adviser for PGR students and staff

Last year I became a careers adviser for postgraduate research (PGR) students and research staff at the University of East Anglia.  Prior to this I had followed a traditional academic path as a biological scientist, ending up as an Associate Professor.  I had always thought it important to develop the careers of people working with me and trained as a business coach in 2015.  Changing tracks has provided new challenges and the opportunity to concentrate on my career development skills.  I do career guidance with PhD candidates in the social sciences, as well as arts and humanities, and work with PhDs across the university to promote alternative job prospects.

Dr Katy Richmond Mahoney (moderator)

Consultant, Communication and Me

Since completing her PhD looking at the ‘social side of organic vegetables’ Katy, has worked in professional development roles delivering skills and career training in universities across the UK. For eight years, Kate managed the Vitae Midlands Hub designing and developing national training programmes especially for post graduate and early career researchers.

Katy now works as an independent professional development consultant supporting researchers who want to improve their communication skills in order to enhance their career. Katy is now expanding her own communication skills and training to conduct weddings; helping people communicate commitment at the most special times in their lives, demonstrating that the topic of your PhD should never be the only career path you explore.