"I completed my doctorate at Manchester Metropolitan University. My subject was multidisciplinary, involving microbiology, surface engineering and chemistry. My route into academia was somewhat unusual. At college I was forced to take humanities subjects, which I didn't want to do, so I struggled. I did a foundation degree at college, then a HND, then a degree at the University of Central Lancashire, and then a doctorate. Until I started my doctorate, I worked part-time throughout. My jobs included laboratory technician, bar work, packing lettuces, and even working in a motorcycle shop. I always wanted to be self-sufficient, and enjoyed being challenged.
"My current research involves understanding why and how surfaces become fouled with micro-organisms. I design experiments, interpret the results, write journal articles and book chapters, and speak at conferences. I also co-supervise three doctoral researchers and do some lecturing. My doctorate and the expertise I gained were important for me, since I knew I wanted to continue in research and also lecture. I had two brilliant supervisors, and I think that makes a major contribution to a student's enjoyment – and successful completion. My doctorate taught me not only about science but also about dealing with people and situations. Multidisciplinary work can be particularly challenging. Academically, talking to a physicist, for example, can be very different to talking to a microbiologist – so I need to wear different 'hats' depending on whom I speaking to. You can never be sure what people's backgrounds, influences, or views will be – but it can also be a fascinating way to learn about their experiences."