We are the UK's leading organisation dedicated to realising the potential of scientists and engineers returning to research following a career break

Fellows returning to Biological Sciences

Dr Clare Bird

Before Clare took a break of seven years to look after her two children, she completed a PhD and a post-doc in the field of marine microbial ecology. Her current research focuses on bacterial symbiosis within marine protists called foraminifera (forams). Such symbiotic relationships have the potential to influence the chemistry of the forams’ shells which is used as an estimate (a proxy) for past climate reconstruction and underpins future climate projections. This project has afforded Clare the opportunity to learn a variety of new skills including illumina DNA sequencing and analysis using a linux platform.
After a career break there is always someone with more recent experience than you so you aren’t as competitive in the job market. This Fellowship completely removes that hurdle. As a Fellow, I have particularly enjoyed the training days provided by the Trust and the opportunity to research my own project.

Host: University of Edinburgh
Sponsors: University of Edinburgh & NERC


Dr Sarah Buchanan

Prior to my career break I was finishing my PhD at the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research and working part-time on a radiation oncology neuro-blastoma project until the birth of my first child. I was out of lab work for 10 years raising a family whilst my husband set-up his business.

My Fellowship investigates the epidemiology of Clostridium difficile infection across Scotland. This project focuses on whole genome sequencing and bioinformatics analysis of isolates of the emerging C difficile ribotype 078, recovered from four different regions over a seven-year period. Bioinformatic analysis will map the relatedness of strains and genetic changes. Linking this to healthcare informatics will allow information on community- versus hospital-acquired infection rates.
My Fellowship has helped me refresh lab skills whilst gaining new microbiology skills. It has also introduced me to bioinformatics. This is a new area for me, but a burgeoning area of research that hopefully will open up new employment opportunities.  

Host: University of Glasgow
Sponsor: Medical Research Scotland

Dr Janet Cronshaw

Dr Janet Cronshaw is a Daphne Jackson Fellow in The Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the University of Sheffield. Janet has a long-standing interest in the field of nucleocytoplasmic transport (the study of how molecules move into and out of the nucleus) which started with her post-graduate studies at Cancer Research UK’s Paterson Institute. This continued with her post-doctoral studies at Johns Hopkins University where she was involved in defining the molecular composition of the nuclear pore complex; the structure that mediates nucleocytoplasmic transport. After a 6 year career break to raise a family, Janet now works with Professor Stuart Wilson at the University of Sheffield where they are studying a novel pathway of mRNA export and its implications for the human neurological disease dystonia.

Host University of Sheffield
Sponsors: University of Sheffield & BBSRC

Dr Esther Crooks

Esther has a PhD in Physical Chemistry from Bristol University and five years industrial research experience looking at transition metal processing and electronic applications. A move abroad and starting a family led to an eight year career break before starting a Daphne Jackson Fellowship at Derby University in the field of microbiology and entomology. The aim of the Fellowship was to determine the effect of consuming bacteria on the life-cycle and immune system of blow-fly larvae. This was a completely new field and involved training in many areas of microbiology and insect-handling as well as statistics and molecular analysis. Highlights of the Fellowship include speaking at conferences and in seminars and feeling part of the scientific world again. As well as scientific skills, Esther has had the opportunity to do some teaching and related training at Derby and is looking forward to continuing post-Fellowship as a lecturer at Derby university.

Host & Sponsor: Derby University

Dr Siobhan Dorai-Raj

Siobhan obtained a BSc in Microbiology, an MSc (Res) and a PhD at the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG). Her PhD focussed on the design of novel PCR based methods to differentiate human from ruminant sources of faecal pollution in drinking water. Her subsequent postdoctoral research, also at NUIG, involved the discovery and reduction to practice of novel targets for nucleic acid diagnostics tests. Siobhan moved to the UK in 2010 and took a career break to care for her two young children. She started her Daphne Jackson Fellowship in January 2015 at the John Innes Centre, Norwich, where she is retraining in natural products development under Professor Barrie Wilkinson.  Her research focuses on the biosynthetic origins and utility of the natural product nybomycin, which is produced by Streptomyces sp.. The project aims to develop second generation nybomycins with improved drug-like properties, that could in future be used as an antibiotic.

Host: John Innes Centre, Norwich
Sponsors: John Innes Centre & BBSRC

Dr Christel Garcia-Petit

Before my career break, I was working in plant structural biology. I obtained a PhD in 2005 and studied various plant biological processes using molecular biology, biochemistry and biophysics. In 2012, I chose to take a career break to care for my daughter. Thanks to a Daphne Jackson fellowship, I came back to research in January 2015 in the MRC Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit at the University of Dundee. The aim of my research is to get structural insights of the nuclear core complex of the Fanconi anemia DNA repair pathway, an important cellular mechanism for maintaining the integrity of our genome. This project allows me to learn new techniques for protein expression and to refresh my knowledge in protein crystallisation and X-ray crystallography. The Daphne Jackson fellowship is a great opportunity for me to re-enter the research field and to catch up with new technologies in the rapidly evolving field of structural biology.

Host & Sponsor: University of Dundee

Dr Marjorie Gibbon

I did my PhD and a postdoc at UWE on the genetics of the interaction between pea and bean plants and bacterial pathogens. I stopped working when my second child was due, and during my break I had a third baby. After 7 years I tried to return to research but this was not possible, so I trained as a teacher. When I found out about the Daphne Jackson Trust I applied for a Fellowship, a process which took a few years. I began my Fellowship at the University of Bath in 2014 after a break of 16 years. I am developing an invertebrate model organism of hyperglycaemia to study the effect of high blood sugar levels on the immune response. I am refreshing old skills and learning lots of new ones, and I am loving every minute. Without the Fellowship I was too great a risk to be employed in research, with no recent experience. With the Fellowship this is no longer the case and I am so grateful.

Host: University of Bath
Sponsor: Biochemical Society

Dr Elaine Hunter

Elaine Hunter (nee Flynn) began her research career investigating the interplay between membrane potential, calcium stores and contractility in vascular smooth muscle. She carried out her PhD at the University of Nevada School of Medicine, Reno, USA. Where her PhD research programme, with Professor Kenton Sanders, investigated “Ionic Conductances Involved In The Electrical Activity Of The Canine Gastrointestinal Tract”. Elaine has also worked with Dr. J. McCarron investigating Ca2+ handling in smooth muscle, and Professor Alison Gurney on the regulation of hypoxia in the pulmonary vasculature.

Elaine is now returning to research with a Daphne Jackson Fellowship, working with Dr Stuart Cobb and Dr Mark Bailey at the University of Glasgow. She is interested in the pathophysiology of Rett Syndrome and in particular, the relationship between neuronal excitability and mitochondrial function, and the contribution of mitochondrial defects to the peripheral pathophysiology of Rett Syndrome.

Host: University of Glasgow
Sponsor: Medical Research Scotland

Dr Heather Imrie

My early career was varied; practising veterinarian, then human immunologist (post-doc at University of Oxford working on immunity to malaria). I took a career break to have children, working part-time as a vet. Trying to get back into research, I realised that my varied career had been ‘fun without focus’ and for the first time experienced closed doors. The Daphne Jackson Trust has given me the chance to re-skill in immunology and to combine my interests; I currently investigate bovine immune responses to tuberculosis in collaboration with the University of Liverpool. Highlights of my Fellowship have been learning about technologies associated with bioinformatics at the cutting edge of biomedical research. In order to balance family and career, I have settled in Nottinghamshire and have secured a part-time lectureship in Veterinary Nursing at Nottingham Trent University. I hope to undertake future research projects at NTU which has expertise in the bioinformatics of oncology.

Host: University of Liverpool
Sponsor: BBSRC

Dr Tamsin Majerus

I work in the School of Life Sciences, University of Nottingham. I have 4 children, have had multiple breaks and worked part-time for much of my career. My research uses genetic mapping and DNA sequencing techniques to investigate the control of colour-pattern in ladybirds. The focus of my training has been learning to use programs for bioinformatic analysis and mapping of sequence data, as these areas have moved on considerably since I did my PhD. Since starting my Fellowship I have also become extremely involved in Athena SWAN, across the University. Daphne Jackson fellowships are a brilliant opportunity to help people back into the leaky pipeline after a break. My Fellowship has certainly made a huge, positive difference to my career. Perhaps the key difference is that I am perceived as doing my own research, rather than someone else’s and this has opened up new opportunities to collaborate and supervise.

Host: University of Nottingham
Sponsors: University of Nottingham & NERC

Dr Deborah Mitcheson

Deborah was awarded a Daphne Jackson Fellowship in 2014, funded by both the BBSRC and the University of Leicester. She is using a combination of chemical genetics and phosphoprotemics to investigate the essential biochemical processes in malaria in an effort to find new antimalarial targets. Deborah was awarded a degree in Biochemistry from Dublin University Trinity College in 1991. She completed her PhD in 1995 at the University of Bristol and subsequently took a break of fifteen years from research. During this break, she undertook a Post Graduate Certificate of Education and worked as a primary school teacher, a lecturer in further education and a private tutor. She returned to laboratory work as a technician with Professor Tobin’s group at the University of Leicester in 2010. Deborah is a current member of the departmental Athena Swan Committee and the Society of Biology Returners to Science Advisory Group.

Host: University of Leicester
Sponsors: University of Leicester & BBSRC

Dr Amanda Noble

Amanda Noble started out as a development chemist following her BSc in Biological Chemistry at the University of Ulster and her PhD in Organic Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh. She worked in the pharmaceutical industry for 7 years before taking a career break to raise her two children. 

Eager to return to science, Amanda undertook voluntary placements at the University of York, in a new field of cancer biology. This inspired her to apply for a Daphne Jackson Fellowship which she started in 2013. 

Her research is focussing on a potential new therapeutic target for treatment of prostate cancer.  The highlights of her fellowship have been learning new techniques, working in a stimulating environment and interacting with fellow scientists in York and across the globe.

Host: University of York
Sponsor: Prostate Cancer UK

Dr Jharna Paul

After finishing my PhD in Measurement and Instrumentation Engineering at City University London and a period of research modelling optical metamaterials at University of Glasgow (UoG), I worked for a year as a physics teacher. I then took a four year career break to bring up my two children. The Fellowship has provided me with a unique opportunity to return to work and develop my career in scientific and engineering research.

With support from the Trust and my supervisor at UoG, I developed a project on plasmonic nanoantennas for the detection of proteins in water. Proteins are vital for cell function and their detection is important to understand biomaterial behaviour, and early diagnosis and cure of disease. I am learning new modelling and fabrication tools using the advanced facilities at the James Watt Nanofabrication Centre in UoG. I am looking forward to continuing my research in the Advanced Optical Sensing Applications.

Host & Sponsor: University of Glasgow

Dr Jamuna Selvakumaran

Jamuna joined Royal Holloway University of London as a post-doctoral research fellow in 2013 after eight years of career break to look after her children. Before the career break she worked as a research associate at Imperial College London and before that completed her PhD at University of Surrey. She was able to return to her research career with the help of a Daphne Jackson Fellowship funded by the BBSRC. The Fellowship allowed her to change her field of research. Her research focuses on developing an induced pluripotent stem cell based in vitro model of the human blood brain barrier to test therapeutics. She is also involved in gene therapy using viral vectors to restore nerve function after spinal injury funded by the Spinal Research Trust. The Daphne Jackson Trust also helped her by offering courses to develop her presentation and professional skills.

Host: Royal Holloway, University of London
Sponsor: BBSRC