After a PhD and postdoctoral research in chemistry, I moved to the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to work as a portfolio manager, running peer review processes and designing funding schemes. This was in 2009, just as the UK Research Councils introduced Impact Plans (later Pathways to Impact) as a requirement in research proposals. Consequently much of my work was about explaining impact and how to build it into research proposals. I was effectively ushering in the impact agenda. My work at EPSRC also involved broad stakeholder engagement, from developing a nuclear energy technology roadmap with academia, industry and government to exploring the impacts of robotics and AI research with experts from computer science, law and philosophy.
I moved to the University of Southampton in 2012 where I advised and trained academics seeking research funding, from early career fellowships to major strategic grants, including how to incorporate impact into research proposals. The UK’s REF2014 research assessment further cemented the importance of impact and in early 2016 I became the University of Southampton’s central impact lead, working to embed impact into academic culture, institutional systems and governance. My role involved working with academics and professional services across the university which means I understand impact in all its forms and I am sympathetic to disciplinary differences.
I have long been attracted by the idea of self-employment and in February 2018 I set out as an independent consultant specialising in funding and impact.