Career pathways in Science

This week is National Careers Week and yesterday was International Women’s Day so we thought we’d hear from a few of our staff about their career pathways in science. 

There are many different types of careers in science including technical, specialist and management roles that support our science. Here, we find out about the career journeys of Group Leader Dr Xiaoqi Feng and Platform Managers Saleha Bakht and Dr Clare Stevenson.

They share their career path, the steps they have taken on that journey and the skills they have developed throughout their careers to date. 

Dr Xiaoqi Feng

In Xiaoqi’s role as Group Leader she leads a research group who study epigenetic reprogramming in plant germlines.   

Her passion for biology started at school and she went on to study a biology undergraduate degree in China. She then studied for a PhD in Oxford, followed by working as a Postdoctoral Researcher in the United States, before starting her independent research group, here at the John Innes Centre in Norwich. 

“Every transition in my career has had challenges and felt like stepping out of my comfort zone. I think being able to do the first couple of them gave me the confidence to deal with transitions after that and think ‘I can do well.’ 

I’m also fortunate to have a great mentor who I learn so much from as I continue my career”. 

Watch the video to find out more about Xiaoqi’s career.

Saleha Bakht

Saleha leads the technology platform service RevGenUK which offers TILLING (Targeting Induced Local Lesions in Genomes) on populations of mutagenised model and crop species. 

Her science career started by studying Applied Biology. “At the time I was interested in science but I didn’t know what a science career was. So, the fact the degree was applied and had three industrial placements really appealed to me to be able to get experience. 

I think from every job I’ve learned something, not just about experiments and practical experience, but also about myself and my strengths and weaknesses. I’m still learning a lot” 

Dr Clare Stevenson

Clare’s role is split between the Protein Crystallography and Biophysical Analysis platform. She is also the lead for the Technician Commitment and soon to start a new role here at the John Innes Centre as Head of Directorate.

“I did quite well in my GSCEs but didn’t get the grades I could have during my A-levels. I went on to study biochemistry at university and then started my technical career in industry. I joined the John Innes Centre as a Research Assistant then moved to work on one platform and manage another.

I passionately believe that life is about life-long learning and taking opportunities. Sometimes taking on something different can lead to a different direction, and that’s what a career pathway is all about.

I’m really excited for the future of my career and to be able to contribute to science from the management perspective, be more involved in policy and contribute to positive changes in research culture for all”.

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