My Fellowship represents the critical next step to return to my academic career.

Rachel started her eight-year career in research in 1998 after obtaining a first undergraduate degree in neuroscience from The University of Glasgow.

Rachel then worked as a research associate at the Institute for Stem Cell Research at The University of Edinburgh. During this year, Rachel researched PhD positions and successfully applied for a MRC Collaborative project, within the medical genetics department at the same University. Rachel continued in the same group as a post-doctoral research associate and left in 2005 to have her first child.

Rachel returned to the group a year later on a short-term part-time contract. After this, she successfully secured another part-time position at The University of Edinburgh within the Centre for Cognitive and Neural Systems. This was a more pressured position for Rachel and in 2008, she took ten months of maternity leave to have her second child.

When her contract finished in 2010 and in order for her to concentrate fully on her family, Rachel choose to take a career break. Her partner worked in London for most of the week and she had little family support nearby. Under these circumstances, she felt that continuing with a part-time research career of any sort was detrimental to her family and to herself.

During her career break, Rachel went on to have a third child. She continued to build upon her skills, working as a freelance language editor, editing manuscripts in her research field for non-native English-speaking authors. Also, she worked as an exam invigilator for the University of Edinburgh and as an online lecturer for the Open University. Further, she read extensively, and retained her interest in and knowledge of research into mitochondria and their contribution to neurodegeneration and brain disease.

Once Rachel’s youngest started school, she felt it was the right time to relaunch her research career.

Before starting her career break, she had researched potential options for returning to research, with Daphne Jackson Fellowships standing out to her for their focus on retraining and development.

My transition to a full-time academic position would benefit greatly from the part-time flexibility offered by a Daphne Jackson Fellowship.

She leapt at applying and was awarded a Fellowship in 2018.

Rachel was delighted to be awarded a Daphne Jackson Fellowship, hosted by The University of Edinburgh, under the supervision of Professor Tom Gillingwater, where he is currently a Professor of Anatomy, funded by The Anatomical Society.

Rachel chose to work in Professor Gillingwater’s laboratory because of mutual research interests and his track record in supervision. As part of his lab, Rachel has weekly one-on-one progress meetings with Professor Gillingwater, as well as weekly lab meetings and ad-hoc meetings when needed.

I feel confident that my Fellowship will enable me to re-establish my research reputation through publication and presentation of my findings, while building key professional research networks, both locally and further afield.

I see my Daphne Jackson Fellowship as an essential transitionary step that will reskill and retrain me, enabling me to re-establish my career and ultimately progress toward my long-term career goal of obtaining a permanent academic position.

  • Three-year Fellowship 2018 – 2021
  • Hosted by The University of Edinburgh
  • Fully sponsored by Medical Research Scotland
  • Supervisor: Professor Tom Gillingwater
  • Project: Targeting mitochondria to develop next-generation therapies for the childhood motor neuron disease, spinal muscular atrophy

Read more about Rachel’s return to research here in this 2022 “Nature” article.