How would you explain your research?
My fellowship research compares and contrasts the link between research and teaching, the two core missions of our universities. I look at the diverse and divergent experiences of undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as academic staff in relation to how sociology is taught and researched. My work also explores the impact of persistent social inequalities within higher education, metricisation of both research and teaching, as well as the corresponding issues of equality and diversity amongst staff: on whose research and teaching is the discipline of sociology propagated? I hope to contribute to debates on the purpose and future of universities, pointing to the different approaches in which the roles of universities can be understood.
What inspired you to pursue this area?
My post-doctoral research project looked at the wider student experiences at the University of Sheffield, as the undergraduate cohort of 2013 made their transitions into, and through, university. One interesting avenue we looked at was how students understood and engaged with the link between research and teaching throughout their studies. When thinking about the next steps beyond my post-doc, I decided to explore the nexus between research and teaching further, comparing across England, Norway and Hungary. Looking at educational issues comparatively across different contexts can help us gain a much better understanding of the school systems: it exposes what we take otherwise for granted.
I hope to contribute to debates on the purpose and future of universities, pointing to the different approaches in which the roles of universities can be understood.
Why did you apply for a fellowship?
The Nottingham Research Fellowship provided the perfect opportunity to conduct the research I dreamt about: having three years of independent research time with substantive funding means I can conduct this large-scale internationally comparative study. It also allows me to familiarise myself with the expertise of my colleagues in the School of Education and start working with our doctoral researchers and students.
Who or what has helped you get to where you are today?
It is the people who helped me to get here: colleagues with whom I shared a passion for educational research and teaching. Working collaboratively is exciting and rewarding, and I have been very fortunate to have been a part of, and have led amazing teams. My mentors at different institutions have always had a holistic and long-term view of support, meaning I had good guidance at different stages of my career. I have also enjoyed contributing to the wider research community, building a broader national and international network, and seizing opportunities when they arise. Further, I have used the feedback after rejections from jobs and research projects to enhance my work and think outside the box, planning more unique projects.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
I would suggest seeking career guidance and mentoring at all stages of your studies and career. Do also keep an open mind about different opportunities, given a fairly competitive context. Peer support and having critical friends can go a long way in planning your next steps.