In our latest researcher case study, Dr Chanel Fallon from the Department of Mechanical Engineering shares her career path and day-to-day experiences of working as a lecturer.
1.What do you do day-to-day in your current role?
As a Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Bath, no two days are the same! During the semester, I’m involved in various aspects of undergraduate teaching, including lecturing our second-year design students and supervising undergraduate research projects. Throughout the year, I work on my research which investigates the dynamic response of materials and structures. Day-to-day, I may be writing journal papers or grant applications, doing experiments in the lab, numerical modelling at my desk or chatting to colleagues about all of the above.
2. Give a brief overview of your career history to date, and any steps you feel were important to you
I studied Engineering at Cambridge, specialising in my third year in Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering. While I thoroughly enjoy the more theoretical side of engineering, I also wanted to experience it in practice. During the holidays, I spent a summer working in a forklift factory in Northern Ireland and another working for BP. After graduation, I even spent a year working as an investment banker in the City of London. However, after experiencing research for the first time, during my final year at Cambridge, I knew I wanted to stay in academia. I returned to Cambridge in 2015 to start a PhD in mechanics of materials, where I investigated novel material solutions to protect infrastructure from blast and impact events. Afterwards, I was a Research Associate at Oxford in Impact Engineering, working on a project with Rolls-Royce that investigated ice impacts on titanium alloys.
3. How do you use the skills from research in your current role? What skills do you think are most needed in your current role, and do you have any thoughts on how researchers can be developing these?
In my research, I like to use a combination of analysis techniques: experimental, numerical and analytical. Dynamic experiments use highly specialised equipment and I got the opportunity to develop these skills during my time at Oxford.
My PhD involved a significant amount of numerical modelling so during that time, I developed finite element analysis and analytical skills. I can now bring my expertise in these areas to my current role at Bath where I can direct my own programme of research, collaborate with colleagues and supervise PhD and undergraduate research.
Research communication is also a very important skill. This can be developed by presenting work at seminars and conferences and through writing academic journal papers. If you want to pursue a career in academia, don’t be afraid to take the lead on things like this. Start developing some independence by writing down your own research ideas and applying for funding.
4. What advice would you have for researchers interested in similar roles, including how and where to look for vacancies
If you are a researcher wishing to pursue a career in academia, I would advise talking to as many people as possible. Speak to your PI about your future so they can support you in your ambitions. Conferences can be a great opportunity to informally chat to people in your field and academics from other labs might be able to advise you of forthcoming opportunities. However, I got my position at Oxford and Lectureship at Bath by applying to job adverts that I saw online. My advice would be to set up email alerts on jobs.ac.uk and check them regularly.