Biomedical Sciences

Mentorship - Dr Karen Smillie

Dr Karen Smillie discusses mentorship

Dr Karen Smillie

Lecturer, Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences.

I have been a member of the Centre for Integrative Physiology since 2009, firstly as a post-doctoral researcher until 2014 where upon I was appointed as a tenure-tracked lecturer.  I have found the department to be very supportive of personal development needs through both stages of my career to date with access to a wide range of courses from specific training skills to wider management and leadership skills.  I have also been able to take advantage of a mentoring scheme which is a great resource especially for newly appointed PIs embarking on setting up their own laboratory.

I was 5 months pregnant at the time of application for the lectureship and found nothing but support for my application and subsequent appointment from the department.  The school were very supportive of me and made sure that all the maternity arrangements were clearly explained and I had access to all the information that I needed.  During the course of my maternity leave I was offered keeping in touch days which helped enormously with maintaining involvement with my laboratory and when I came back after my period of maternity leave, I was able to use my accrued annual leave to work part-time.  This, in combination with access to a room to express milk for my daughter, enabled me to transition back to work seamlessly. 

This made a huge difference to me since I did not have to worry about work pressures at the same time as settling my daughter into nursery.  I was also offered a 6 month teaching sabbatical in order to establish my research post-maternity leave, although in discussion with the school I did in fact participate in a lower load of teaching activities for my first semester back, it was excellent to be offered this.

Overall the school has supported and encouraged my career development and through the provision of flexible working hours continues to support my working needs.

Read Dr Karen Smillie's staff profile