Personal Chair, School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition

 College of Life Sciences and Medicine, University of Aberdeen

Tel: +44 (0)1224 437 587

I was an inaugural member of the 2009 Scottish Crucible. At that time, I was an RCUK fellow concentrating on my research and desperately trying to work out how to make my research more interdisciplinary and meaningful. When an email advertising the Scottish Crucible programme arrived, I applied the same day. It was exactly what I was searching for and it was certainly the best thing I have done for my professional as well as personal development. I would say that they could not have put a better mix of individuals together and I would consider every single participant in my year as a good friend!

The exposure to the Scottish Parliament and civil servants was eye opening and put into context the importance of what we do in our research as well as how we present it in lay language in 2 minutes (the elevator pitch). The opportunity to spend 2 days at different universities around Scotland was superb and also got us to really brainstorm and work together on novel ideas. Every time I came back from one of the labs, I was absolutely exhausted but exhilarated.

I went from being a research fellow to senior research fellow to Reader and Professor in 8 years and I would say that without the Crucible, this would not have been possible. One of the pilot grants of £5K went to our interdisciplinary collaboration between a psychologist from Strathclyde, a physicist from Edinburgh, chemist from Glasgow and myself. It made us come up with ideas that we would never have done before; we still work together as a part of the Research the Headlines project which continued when we became the members of the RSE Young Academy. Overall this was, and still is, the best leadership and professional development programme I have ever done and most importantly, it was incredibly fun!