Jennifer Houghton

Jennifer took short contracts in research labs, and an industrial placement, during her first degree before her doctorate. Through the doctoral education, she realised her desire for a career in science – though not in research. Now she works as a Programme Manager for the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

"Starting from scratch as a mature student, after 12 years in the RAF, I took short contracts in research labs and an industrial placement during my undergraduate degree before undertaking my doctorate.

"My doctoral supervisor emigrated – which made me more independent, as I had to seek out other researchers to discuss my work. I realised that I wanted a career in science, though not in research. I initially worked for the EPSRC before moving to my current post – overseeing the UK’s interests in key light source and neutron facilities in Europe. We ensure that UK researchers get access to facilities and that these are developed appropriately.

"A doctorate was a requirement for my job – but skills such as project management, ability to interact at all levels, putting forward solutions in the face of opposition, and an understanding of universities and what research requires have been much more useful than in-depth knowledge of my research area."