“Life isn’t linear, organisations need to understand that they risk losing brilliant minds in research if they don’t offer true flexibility”

19 December 2022 | Blogs, News, Dr Emily Clarke news

Emily Clarke is currently re-entering her research career after taking time to care for her son following health complications at birth. Now he is in good health and having spent some quality time together, Emily felt ready to reenter her research career. However, she came across the same challenges that so many research returners face.

Fast forward to now, Emily is in the final stages of her Fellowship application process. Alzheimer’s Society and the Daphne Jackson Trust spoke with Emily about her application experience.

What were your thoughts and feelings when looking to return to your research career?

“I knew I couldn’t work full time, I needed an element of flexibility. I had been out of the lab for a while and there was a big gap on my CV. I contacted many roles asking if they would consider a 4-day role, and I didn’t hear anything back – from any of them. The barriers were overwhelming and it felt insurmountable. I was talking to a neuroscience researcher about how sad it is that I wouldn’t be able to return to my career, and that’s when she mentioned the work of the Daphne Jackson Trust (DJT)”

How did you find the Fellowship application process?

“Life isn’t linear, everyone has a story, and it’s been reassuring speaking with the team at the DJT and at interview stages with the Alzheimer’s Society. There was comfort speaking with people who really understood and were sympathetic to the situation. Without feeling like I needed to apologise.

When you initially see that the total application process can take about a year, on the face of it seems long. However, I knew at the start I was ‘rusty’, and I think this duration would be helpful for those that may be feeling apprehensive. The process helped to get me into a place where I was stronger and more confident – with realistic, attainable deadlines. I found the process being long as a positive, as I needed that to get me into a place where I was definitely ready”

What advice would you give to those looking to return to research?

“I would say just don’t give up. It might feel like it’s insurmountable, the barriers that you see in front of you, but there’s always ways around it. There are always options. Take it one day at a time. When you have an application to do, or a proposal to write, it can just seem overwhelming, and you don’t know where to start…and you’re looking at that blank page…You don’t know how to get your thoughts out of your head onto that piece of paper. It can be difficult, but just break it down one day at a time and remember there are options out there.”

“I wish I’d known about the Daphne Jackson Trust before I started my maternity leave. If you think about the number of minds/brains that are lost from research because their lives aren’t linear, it’s a real shame. People need true flexibility and this is an incredible scheme which provides this”

If you are interested in returning to research, or if you know someone who is, then take a look at the  Daphne Jackson Trust Fellowship sponsored by Alzheimer’s Society. The Fellowship is open to talented dementia researchers with biomedical or care specialisms who wish to return to research within a UK university or research institution. The current opportunity closes on 8th May 2023.

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