Daphne Jackson Fellow and University of Birmingham nuclear physicist is honoured in ‘power’ awards

26 February 2020 | News news

A former Daphne Jackson Fellow, who is now working as a University of Birmingham nuclear physicist, has been named in the 2020 Timewise Power 50 Awards: a roll call of 50 powerful executives in the UK – who all happen to work part-time or flexibly.

The Awards have been compiled by Timewise, a flexible working consultancy and multi-award winning social business, following a nationwide search.

The Timewise Power 50 provides a snapshot of what modern work in Britain is like and challenges the belief part-time work cannot mean ambitious, highly successful nor senior.

The initiative also aims to inspire employers across the country with stellar examples of how flexible working can and should work – by providing trailblazing role models.

Timewise Co-founders Karen Mattison MBE and Emma Stewart MBE publish a new list annually in order to prove what’s possible when you work part time or flexibly.

This year, Dr Tzany Kokalova Wheldon, a Reader in Nuclear Physics at the University of Birmingham’s College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, has been honoured in the awards.

After a three-and-a-half-year career break to care for her twin boys and relocate the family from Germany to the UK, Dr Wheldon returned to research as a Daphne Jackson Fellow in 2011.

Hosted at the University of Birmingham and funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council, a Daphne Jackson Fellowship enabled her to return to her career in science and she currently works 80% of full time hours.

Today, Dr Wheldon’s work spans the full breadth of nuclear physics from experimental nuclear astrophysics and machine learning, to medical isotopes, applications and industry-related nuclear decommissioning. She carries out research, teaches, and supervises eight PhD students, and has key roles mentoring women.

Dr Wheldon, who is a Reader in nuclear physics and Director of the University of Birmingham’s Positron Imaging Centre, said: “Flexible work has been a lifesaver for me at two distinct points in my career. It enabled me to take a career break to raise my family, but more recently it enabled me to take time to look after my son during a serious illness. The University of Birmingham and the Daphne Jackson Trust were great at facilitating my need to be flexible. Life happens, in spite of plans and I’m fortunate to have had the freedom to look after my son and continue doing my job.”

The University’s flexible working scheme offers a range of benefits designed to help staff achieve a better balance between family and work responsibilities. Options available include part-time work, job sharing, term-time only working, flexi-time and compressed hours. The University provides discounts on childcare and has three day nurseries. It also offers maternity, paternity, shared parental and adoption leave, as well as 13 weeks parental leave for those with children under five.

More recent initiatives have also included a staff volunteering allowance, which enable staff to devote one day per year to a local volunteering activity.

Professor Joanne Duberley, Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion)  at the University of Birmingham said: “Congratulations to Dr Wheldon on winning this award. The University’s flexible working scheme is designed to support staff who juggle complex commitments and it’s great to see such a positive example of the scheme in action.”

The public nominated hundreds of people for the awards, and a panel of judges compiled a list of the 50 deemed to be the most outstanding. The list is not ranked or numbered in any way.

Timewise co-founder and judge Karen Mattison MBE said: “Success doesn’t come in one shape or size.

“With nine in 10 people wanting or needing flexibility in their next job, it is vital we find and showcase modern day role models to aspire to.

Dr Wheldon presenting at the Daphne Jackson Trust 2019 Conference

“Tzany is blazing a trail in Higher Education and research, all whilst working part-time or flexibly.

“She is achieving serious success, not only proving that it can be done – but how.

“The Timewise Power 50 exists to award innovation like this. Every person who tells their story openly, helps to make change happen. ”

The awards have been backed by EY, Dixons Carphone, Lloyds Banking Group and Diageo.

Dr Wheldon was also crowned winner of the Five Minute Fellowship Presentation competition at the Daphne Jackson Trust 2019 Conference, held in October at the Institute of Physics.

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