If it wasn’t for my mentor at the University of Nottingham, I wouldn’t have stayed in research.

Gillian is a Research Fellow and Specialist Pelvic Health Physiotherapist. She originally qualified as a veterinary surgeon in 1986 but changed career and retrained as a physiotherapist in 1995 having specialised in sports, with a first degree in veterinary medicine.

Her PhD work at the University of Nottingham was in Tendon Biomechanics. Since then, she has worked clinically with patients having pelvic health issues and those with sport’s injuries.

Gillian returned to research in 2019, via the Daphne Jackson Trust Fellowship. Where she has been able to combine both clinical interests, by investigating pelvic health problems in athletic women.

Gillian’s Fellowship concluded in May 2019, her project was ‘Management of urinary incontinence in athletic women – a feasibility study’.

“I found the Daphne Jackson Trust to be very supportive. Helen Marsh was just brilliant, and has continued to be supportive, offering advice, beyond my Fellowship. I would never have gone back if it weren’t for the Daphne Jackson Trust. Whilst working on my PhD, I became pregnant and sadly lost both parents. It was a difficult time and hard to continue within research after gaining my doctorate. Consequently, I took a step back and took some time away from Academia, returning to clinical work. At the time, I was naïve and didn’t realise the importance of publishing my research to continue in the research world, but the Trust gave me the chance to make connections and improve my academic CV”.

What did you find when you first started looking to return to research?

“I finished my PhD in 2011 and decided to return into research in 2019, but I didn’t know where to start. I was lucky and through an NIHR clinical academic career day, I met my current mentor where we discussed me ‘coming back’ and the next steps of securing funding”.

In come the DJT…

During her PhD, the Daphne Jackson Trust had given a talk at The University of Nottingham. She also had a friend in the lab, a mathematician, who had completed a DJT Fellowship. Gillian explained that the preparation and process were both hard, but very worthwhile.

Any top tips for Research Returners?

“Find a really good mentor. I wouldn’t have stayed in research if it wasn’t for my mentor. She has guided me in what is a very different area from the clinical setting. She is still my main mentor even now. It is so important to have someone to guide you throughout the process. I also found the University and in particular, the School of Health Sciences, to be brilliant and a very supportive organization. I feel very lucky to have found that”.

Gillian’s Fellowship was sponsored by the University of Nottingham and the Medical Research Council.