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Dr Louise Natrajan Establishing a research career at the research group level. Who am I? What do I do?. EPSRC Career Acceleration Fellow: School of Chemistry The University of Manchester Team Leader…

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Dr Louise

Establishing a research career at the research group level


Who am I? What do I do?

  • EPSRC Career Acceleration Fellow:
  • School of Chemistry
  • The University of Manchester
  • Team Leader…
  • I have a group of 12 researchers built up over 5 years (4 PDRA’s and 12 PhD’s)
  • Primarily research focused: limited teaching, organise external seminars
  • 2013 awarded a £1 million Leverhulme leadership award (group expanding!)

My Background

  • 2003 PhD- Inorganic Chemistry, University of Nottingham
  • 2004 PDRA, CEA, Grenoble, France
  • 2005-2008 PDRA, University of Manchester
  • 2009-2014 EPSRC Career Acceleration Fellow
  • 2013-present Reader in Chemistry
why an epsrc caf fellowship
Why an EPSRC CAF Fellowship?
  • Applied for ~ 5 lectureships in yrs 3-4 of PDRA
  • Timeliness: right stage in my career and right time in my field of research (nuclear). The only person for the job!
  • Ideal way to establish myself as a world class leader in my chosen area of research in 5 years
  • Less pressures of applying for additional research grants (comes with equipment, consumables, travel, PhD studentships and PDRA’s). Be realistic with costs
  • Freedom and opportunity to establish international collaborations
what i did
What I did:
  • Attended EPSRC presentations
  • Mock Panel interview-good insight into panel assessment
  • Sought advice and help from my supervisor and colleagues
  • Worked on my track record:
    • Publications, lead authorship (13 papers, 9 lead, 11 written/co-written)
    • Presentations, conferences, invited seminars/lectures
    • Develop potential collaborators (use the people you already know)
    • Teaching and management experiences
    • Opportunity to sell yourself, not just your ideas

Don’t just limit yourself to one fellowship application

1st step outline proposal
1st step: Outline proposal

Read guidelines carefully

  • 2 pages: convey main idea and work strategy
  • Identify strategic area if possible
    • Interdisciplinary
    • Energy
    • Healthcare
    • Nanotechnology
    • Digital economy
  • Track record -number of lead author publications
          • -summary of work and collaborations
in summary applying for funding
In Summary: Applying for Funding
  • Believe in yourself and your research ideas this will then come across in the proposal and interview
  • Talk to as many people as possible, including anyone you may know at the EPSRC-understand their point of view of the fellowship procedure

Current Responsibilities/Skills

    • Management of research group
    • Responsible for writing grant proposals/high impact publications
    • Teaching…
  • Core skills:
    • People, project and time management
    • Networking
    • Imaginative (cutting edge ideas)
  • No additional training required but might be useful…


Everyday challenges, opportunities, and rewards of being an academic:

  • Likes:
  • Flexibility of working hours
  • Ability to develop my own ideas
  • Working with a young, enthusiastic group
  • Dislikes:
  • Lack of time to spend with my group/working on ideas!!
  • Administrative jobs-being out of the lab

Maintaining/Measuring Success

  • Approach to setting up a research group?

Apply for a wide variety of grants

  • Developing a research strategy?

Initially more than one research area, continued PDRA work-new direction

  • How I respond to the research environment?

Talk to as many (young) people as possible

  • How I measure impact in my work?

Invited talks, collaborations, journal citations

  • How I see myself as a leader?/plan for the future?

When all else fails…

…If there’s only ONE piece of advice you could give to students, what would it be?

  • Don’t let anything or anyone put you off applying for things, you never know… !
  • i.e. don’t see anything as a failure, just a different path