Navigating your Research Journey
Insights from a Fellow Researcher
Returning to a research career after a break can be challenging due to rapidly evolving fields, technology advancements, and the need to rebuild professional networks.
Dr Elena Catalanotti is a Former Daphne Jackson Fellow, sponsored by University College London and EPSRC, and hosted at University College London in the Chemical Engineering department.
Her project was entitled “Modelling of Biomass Gasification”, looking at utilising waste materials to make energy as an alternative to fossil fuels. Her Fellowship project has made important contributions to understanding the chemical kinetics, process engineering and techno-economic aspects of the topic.
In this blog, Elena shares her advice following her Daphne Jackson Fellowship.
“To future or applying Fellows I would say…
- Don’t underestimate your strength and ability. Deciding to go back to such a demanding career already shows great commitment.
- Don’t forget that if you were a researcher, you are a researcher. Certain skills don’t just disappear.
- Choose the project wisely, do not be too ambitious, set your goals in such a way that they can be achieved with flexibility, you can always add more if you have the time.
- This is a retraining program but do not add too much technical retraining. You will need time to find your feet, if you try to learn too much from scratch, you may lose on the delivery of your research objectives. Mix technical skills that you are competent in and just need a ‘refresh’ with (a few) skills that you may have to learn or just deepen.
- Get involved, but only in the activities that truly interest you and that could give you future perspectives. It can get very intense when you take on additional responsibilities on the top of your project, and it must be worth it. So, do not say ‘Yes!’ on a whim or because you feel obliged, ask for a day or two to respond and think about how it really fits with your goals and expectations for the future. Any activity that you take on must help you, not just your supervisor or your institution.
- Use your network and build on it! Networking is crucial for a continuous career development and progression.
- Good luck!”
Thank you Elena for sharing your advice.
Following her Fellowship, Elena continued at University Central London working on two large international projects, funded by the European Commission: C4U and CaLby2030. In C4U, she works as part of the project management team, dealing with a number of scientific and management issues, including coordination of activities involving different partners as well as different H2020 projects, while covering a more technical role in the CaLby2030 project. She is also heavily involved in the deployment of strategies to implement gender balance and equality within the projects and in the wider CCUS community (https://c4u-project.eu/geeb/) and has recently co-organized a Second Women in CCUS workshop.
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