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Chancellor's Fellows Profiles

We asked some of our current Chancellor's Fellows to tell us what they thought about the programme. Read about their experiences below.

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Stephen BrusatteChancellor's Fellow

Kate Wright (School of Social and Political Science)

CF

1. What is your research area?

I work on the Cultural and Creative Industries because my background is in theatre, festival management and journalism. I'm chiefly working on the production of international news at the moment, especially in so far as this relates to questions of political economy, digital labour, North/South Relations, and different kinds of activism including humanitarianism and human rights.

2. What attracted you to the Chancellor’s Fellowship scheme?

The research time was enormously attractive to someone coming from a new university with a very heavy teaching load. I  also love it that interdisciplinarity is seen as an advantage, not a problem, and that the university is more than happy for me to build interdisciplinary courses relating to my research interests, including Humanitarianism and the Media and Digital Activism.

3. What has your experience of the Fellowship been so far?

Superb! I have nearly doubled my research output and been able to develop some fantastic international partnerships. The quality of opportunities available to work with others inside the university is also outstanding - at the moment, I am part of a big bid on Neuropolitics, which I would never have considered before. 

4. What is it like living in Edinburgh?

Its one of the most beautiful, livable cities in Europe. As the parent of a small child, it makes such a difference to be able to walk to work, without sacrificing vibrant, culturally-rich city life. The  state schools at primary and secondary level are wonderful, and I also get to work in a university that genuinely values work/life balance.  At weekends or on school holidays I can escape to the sea, hills or even mountains, really easily.

5. Do you have any words of wisdom for potential applicants?

Don't worry too much about what senior managers are looking for - make the case about how you fit the remit convincingly.  Also don't make the mistake of thinking that these roles are for new post-docs only - I was a senior lecturer of ten years standing, and know one Chancellor's Fellow at Reader level.  The university really wants to recruit the best people - and they are pretty flexible about what that might look like. So give it a try!

Chris Dent (School of Mathematics)

CF

1. What is your research area?

My job title is "Chancellor's Fellow in Industrial Mathematics", and I work mostly in applications to energy systems and energy policy.

2. What attracted you to the Chancellor’s Fellowship scheme?

The space that the Chancellor's Fellow position provides to develop my own research interests, and build collaboration across the University, without as much day-to-day pressure from other tasks as is usual in an academic position. At the time I applied, I had already held an academic position for 5 years, so already had experience across the full range of academic activities. A particular reason for moving to Edinburgh when I already held an academic position was the opportunity for collaboration at Edinburgh between the mathematical sciences and energy systems research - this is an application area which is important to society, and where with the increasing roll out of renewable technologies and active participation of consumers the mathematical sciences have much to contribute.

3. What has your experience of the Fellowship been so far?

I would say that it has been everything good I expected, and more so besides! In particular, I had not fully appreciated before joining Edinburgh the scale of investment in facilities for data driven innovation (such as the Bayes Centre and Edinburgh Futures Institute which are part-funded through the "Edinburgh City Deal" regional development funding). Given my own interests, this creates very significant opportunities for new collaborations both the university, and with external organisations in industry and research.

4. What is it like living in Edinburgh?

I have lived or half lived in Edinburgh since 2001, so clearly I rather like it. Apart from all the usual nice things people say about the city, it is often overlooked that Edinburgh has always had good and fairly reasonably priced areas near the city centre, in a way which other British cities sometimes do not, which is an important part of how the city feels.

5. Do you have any words of wisdom for potential applicants?

Chancellor's Fellow positions are nice jobs to have, so (a) the selection process is highly competitive, and (b) the university expects something in return from the special privileges given to Chancellor's Fellows! Thus (as appropriate depending on your interests and your career stage) you should think about how you will use the extra research time e.g. to develop your own research portfolio and collaborations, or to act strategically for your School or the University. Chancellor's Fellow jobs are often linked to specific aspects of School or University strategy, so some research on the background to the role is worthwhile. Finally, as with all job applications, an application is much more convincing if it addresses the specific institution, position and person specification, rather than being for a generic academic position.

Amy Chandler (School of Health in Social Science)

CF

1. What is your research area?

I am a sociologist, based in the School of Health in Social Sciences where I work alongside colleagues in Counselling, Psychotherapy, Applied Social Sciences, Nursing and Clinical Psychology. My research focuses on understanding experiences of and social inequalities in health and illness. I have a particular focus on self-harm, suicide and drug and alcohol use. In my most recent work I am exploring the use of creative methods to research self-harm; whilst working on writing projects developing previously completed work on gender, suicide and emotions.

2. What attracted you to the Chancellor’s Fellowship scheme?

Being able to develop and pursue a programme of research over 5 years, with significant institutional support, is a rare and wonderful opportunity.

3. What has your experience of the Fellowship been so far?

I have absolutely loved my experience so far. The Chancellor’s Fellowship has provided space, time and intellectual community in which to develop ideas and collaborations with others. Start-up funds allowed me to employ a Research Fellow to support a new programme of research. I am now in my second year, and being supported to develop exciting new teaching in Health Humanities within my School, as well as a research informed honours option on Health, Bodies and Embodiment.

4. What is it like living in Edinburgh?

Edinburgh is a great place to be. I have been based here for almost 20 years now (on and off), and still not bored. If you do get bored, there are great links to Glasgow, and ‘down south’ via a high speed train link to London.

5. Do you have any words of wisdom for potential applicants?

Speak to the named contact for the Chancellor’s Fellowship you are interested in, and make sure that your application and interests are a good fit. These are competitive positions, so getting to find out some of the rationale behind particular themes can be helpful. My Chancellor’s Fellowship is an interdisciplinary collaboration between the School of Health, and the College of Art. It was really useful to find out more about this collaboration, both to help me decide whether it was the role for me, and to help shape my application.

Vaishak Belle (School of Infomatics)

CF

1. What is your research area?

My research area is artificial intelligence (AI), and particularly, I work at the intersection of machine learning and symbolic systems, so as to make AI technologies more robust and interpretable, and combine high-level reasoning with low-level data-intensive pattern finding.

2. What attracted you to the Chancellor’s Fellowship scheme?

It was positioned in the form of a tenure-track scheme, allowing applicants to focus fully on research in the first year or two, and gradually step in teaching. Being new to the UK academic system, this helped me considerably, and it enabled the opportunity to easily interact with the numerous research groups within the School of Informatics and outside.

3. What has your experience of the Fellowship been so far?

The School of Informatics has an exciting profile in many areas of computer science, and the fellowship's gradual start has allowed me to engage in presentations and events outside my immediate research area, and outside the School itself. I was also able to get involved with the Alan Turing Institute (in London), and go on a number of research visits outside Edinburgh.

4. What is it like living in Edinburgh?

The fact that there is so much greenery that is accessible is a blessing for runners. Numerous cultural events and the Fringe festival makes Edinburgh a particularly exciting place to live in. Areas such as Leith and Stockbridge are fantastic too.

5. Do you have any words of wisdom for potential applicants?

It might be a good idea to emphasise why this fellowship is a good option for you in your application (e.g., needing a little while to establish a research group). If successful (and I hope you are), you'll likely find (as I did) that it easy to connect with people from other areas and even other fields, and you may want to factor this in your plans when you begin.

Sue Fletcher-Watson (Deanery of Clinical Sciences)

1. What is your research area?

Developmental psychology - specifically work with and for people with autism spectrum disorders across disciplines.

2. What attracted you to the Chancellor’s Fellowship scheme?

Sue Fletcher-Watson

The combination of potential job security without the challenges of being hit with a full teaching commitment at the outset. Building up a teaching, admin and supervision portfolio gradually means that I can make sure I build research capacity and maintain my research output as I take on new duties.

3. What has your experience of the Fellowship been so far?

It is exciting having a lot of dedicated research time without a specific project but also quite daunting - there are almost too many possibilities! Trying to make the right grant applications to the right funders, capitalising on the new networks I'm building at Edinburgh is an enjoyable challenge. Being in a permanent state of flux (e.g. different teaching commitment and duties from one year to the next) is stressful but we (myself and other CFs) are working with the department to help clarify the process.

4. What is it like living in Edinburgh?

Edinburgh is a fantastic city - we have two small children and love being here. There is loads to do as a family and the city has virtually everything (beach, mountains, zoo, museums, theatres, galleries, Harvey Nichols) all accessible on foot or bus.

5. Do you have any words of wisdom for potential applicants?

If you're offered the job, ask your department to provide some start up funding for your research so you can collect pilot data to support your next grant, or buy a key piece of equipment. Get them to make a personalised plan for how your teaching load will be managed - and ideally make sure you can do some teaching in an area which complements your research.

Jonathan Shek (School of Engineering)

1. What is your research area?

J.Shek

Power electronics for sustainable energy systems: Developing solutions for sustainable power generation, distribution, and consumption through control and conversion of electrical power.

2. What attracted you to the Chancellor’s Fellowship scheme?

Often the transition from post-doctorate research to a lectureship position can be a big step. The scheme prepares you for this as it allows fellows to concentrate on research while gradually building up their teaching responsibilities over a period of time.

3. What has your experience of the Fellowship been so far?

So far very positive indeed. The support from staff has been great and there have been many opportunities to engage with Chancellor’s Fellows from different Schools and Colleges, which is important in broadening your research horizons. The workshops and courses for professional development, which has been specifically designed for Chancellor’s Fellows, have also been extremely useful.

4. What is it like living in Edinburgh?

Having been in Edinburgh before starting as a Chancellor’s Fellow, I know Edinburgh well and it is a fantastic place to live. Everyone already knows about the festivals in the summer and the Christmas and Hogmanay festivities, but there is so much more to Edinburgh than that. I also find the size of the city is just about right for me.

5. Do you have any words of wisdom for potential applicants?

Bear in mind that these are 5-year fellowships leading to an open-ended lectureship. Therefore teaching is also of importance here. I would give yourself plenty time in preparing the application, especially the research proposals. Take this opportunity while you can - these fellowships are prestigious and there may not be a later opportunity to apply.