Faculty of Science

Rebecca Dewey

Rebecca Derey 2

Rebecca Dewey

Research Fellow in Neuroimaging, School of Physics and Astronomy

I think it's always more exciting and more illustrative to provide real life examples of how the textbook science is used.


1. Describe your research topic in ten words or less?

Understanding hearing and balance problems using novel neuroimaging techniques

2. Now describe it in everyday terms?

We're using modern technology to understand problems with hearing and balance, such as using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to understand changes to the nerves and brain caused by noise exposure. I also use what I know about MRI to try and improve how people with auditory implants have clinical imaging in their healthcare.

3. What inspired you to pursue this research area?

I mostly just took opportunities that sounded exciting at the time! I have a background in Physics and wanted to do something with it that contributed to society and improved human health. From there, I joined a number of hearing research projects and added new projects as I saw opportunities and gaps come up. Hearing is probably the most underrated sense, and it links in to other senses and allows us to socialise. Keeping your hearing healthy is one of the key things you can do to stay well into old age.

4. What are some of your day-to-day research activities?

No two days are ever the same! Sometimes I am having e-mail and telephone conversations with research participants and members of the public. Sometimes I am testing people's hearing and explaining what the tests mean. sometimes I am using big fancy scanners to get my data and showing people pictures of their brains. Sometimes I get to travel around the world telling other scientists about my work. I love the variety!

5. What do you enjoy most about your research?

The variety and interacting with the public. I enjoy being an ambassador for scientists, women scientists, medical research, and academia. I enjoy giving research participants a fun and exciting experience of medical imaging and of clinical academia. I enjoy travelling the world!

6. How have you approached any challenges you’ve faced in your research?

There's more to do than I can ever achieve - I have to be very careful about where I use my time and I want to make sure that my work has the biggest possible impact.

7. What questions have emerged as a result of your recent work?

Research findings can often take many years to change the world. We have found that there are small but measurable changes to the body's hearing hardware that might predict how someone is likely to respond to damage to their hearing such as through noise exposure. It's exciting to think that this might be used to prevent hearing damage in the future.

8. What kind of impact do you hope your research will have?

I want to use science to improve lives and also improve quality of life. I want to improve the diversity of peer-reviewed published research so that it better reflects the population of the world. I want to empower the next generation of scientists to be more diverse and more impactful than the last.

9. How do you link your research with your teaching?

I think it's always more exciting and more illustrative to provide real life examples of how the textbook science is used. I try to integrate as many references to contemporary research as I can into teaching, and also to share good practice with people around the world, especially those with less access to academic support than I've had.

10. What one piece of advice would you give your younger, less experienced research self?

Keep your ear to the ground! Most of the opportunities I've had are because I've seen a gap and just gone for it. Create your own good luck and just go for it!


Faculty of Science

The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD