Profiles

Faculty of Engineering - Dr Craig Magee

 I joined Imperial after successfully completing my PhD and undergrad at the University of Birmingham.  As a Volcanologist, I study the plumbing systems of volcanos and the move to Imperial has allowed me to further my research into these volcanic ‘pipes’ through the use of novel techniques. 

 How have you found working as a postdoc at Imperial?
I have really enjoyed my time so far as a postdoc here at Imperial.  I found it to be an easy transition from PhD student to a member of staff. This is due not only to the great support from colleagues and my supervisor with regards to my research, but also the high level of support I have received from the Postdoc and Fellows Development Centre (PFDC) and the departmental administration staff. 

 How has the Postdoc and Fellows Development Centre helped you?
The PFDC has helped me prepare for the next career step; they have helped by providing CV advice and mock interviews, but in addition to this their awareness of fellowship opportunities and other non-academic opportunities has been so insightful.  They have broadened my view of how I can take my career forward. 

What advice would you give to new postdocs?
Get stuck in and be involved in all the activities that are on offer for postdocs, don’t just concentrate on your research.  Many postdocs fall into the trap of thinking that because Imperial is the best, they too have to be the best and the only way to do that is to work. However, being involved with the PFDC Reps Network and taking part in the social aspects, as well as being good academically, can lead to huge benefits for your next career step.  If postdocs want that fellowship or lecturer position it is just as important to be able to show that you can network, and invest in students as these skills will show that you know what it takes to become a lecturer or to establish a new collaboration for that next grant. Imperial is such a great arena to start practicing these skills due to the wealth of opportunities that are available. You just have to be willing to grab them! 

 If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice when you started being a postdoc what would it be?
I can’t think of anything that I would do differently due to all the support, both academically and career wise that I have had.  It is hard to go down the wrong path for long when you have such great support. 

What are your future aspirations?
To become a leading expert in my field; I also want to be a lecturer who is a great teacher and is able to inspire the next generation of researchers. 

Faculty of Natural Sciences - Dr Ali Salehi-Reyhani

I studied Physics for my undergrad and then obtained a Masters in Optics and Photonics here at Imperial.  For my PhD I swapped disciplines and did a PhD in Chemistry.  Being part of a doctoral training centre, my PhD was very multidisciplinary so in addition to using my physics background, I also learnt about biology and engineering as my research looked at multidimensional fluorescence imaging of single cells.

 My research has led to a new spinout company and the development of a miniature HPLC machine; an item of equipment which is widely used in all types of labs but is too big and expensive to transport.  We developed a version which is handheld and cheaper.  My current work means that I now interact closely with clinicians to see if the technology that I developed can be used to increase our understanding of circulating tumour cells taken from patients; which in itself has resulted in a whole new set of challenges. 

How have you found working as a postdoc at Imperial?
I absolutely love being a scientist and doing this job, it’s like being in a multimillion pound crèche with a whole number of possibilities.  I’m fortunate to be in a very supportive group which is in a great department.  Help is in abundance with support being right on your doorstep in the form of the Postdoc and Fellows Development Centre (PFDC), who are particularly great when it comes to identifying fellowship opportunities. Through links within my department, I have also had the opportunity to be involved in teaching and outreach. 

How has the Postdoc and Fellows Development Centre helped you? 
I have attended a variety of courses that the PFDC have offered, and they have all been really informative.  I am a Postdoc Rep and being part of this network has opened up many new opportunities for me, such as serving on the departmental committee who are preparing for Chemistry to move to Imperial West.  My ideas are helping to make the move a seamless transition.  Being part of the Postdoc Reps Network has also been a great networking opportunity for me. 

The PFDC improves the postdoc experience and makes it more cohesive so instead of running around in the dark, we have a support network who have our best interests at heart and who actively fight our corner.  It’s like an old mate; when you need them, they are there. Through attending events organised by the PFDC, I have become better informed about fellowship opportunities that are available to me; I received excellent support during a recent fellowship application and have been able to benchmark my career trajectory against my peers through being a panel member for a mock interview panel.  The PFDC understands the career landscape and they have changed the scary prospect of taking the next career move into something that is achievable. 

What advice would you give to new postdocs? 
Maintain your own research interests so that you can build your own independence.  Do something that is purely for you and always try to find ways to expand your research skills portfolio.  Remember that doing outreach could be one of the most rewarding aspects of your research.  Watching a person’s face light up when you show them some science is truly amazing and is so worthwhile. 

If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice when you started being a postdoc what would it be?
Have more confidence in yourself.  Don’t miss opportunities because you don’t think you are ready.  Know your currency, don’t be self-critical. 

 What are your future aspirations? 
To have an internationally renowned research group and to be building novel instruments that can have a great impact in the clinic; and for these discoveries and designs to make a difference.  And if it all goes to plan, buy a big boat. Well we all have to have pipe dreams, right?!?

Faculty of Medicine - Dr Claire Morgan

My passion for science started in school and was nurtured by countless trips to the Natural History Museum and nature walks.  I started my career studying Genetics and Cell Biology at Dublin City University (DCU), Ireland. While undertaking my degree, I spent six months at the University of Pennsylvania, USA, working in the institute of translational medicine. This was a truly great experience and I returned there after my degree to work as a research technician. Grant funding for my PhD was successful and I took the first steps to establishing myself in the field of evolutionary medicine and mammal evolution at DCU.

 After I obtained my PhD, I wanted to understand next generation sequencing and its application in translational medicine.  To achieve this I applied for a postdoc in the Physiological Genomics and Medicine group at Imperial to look at heart regeneration in mice.

 How have you found working as a postdoc at Imperial?
It’s amazing.  There are a lot of opportunities available due to working at such a high ranking institute.  I love working beside driven individuals. While I was working at other institutes and thinking about my future, it felt like continuing in research was not seen as an attractive option.  Here at Imperial however a lot of researchers are motivated to stay in research and are forward thinking with ten year career plans. 

 How has the Postdoc and Fellows Development Centre (PFDC) helped you? 
The PFDC have been really helpful.  I have attended several of their courses; in particular the preparing successful fellowship applications course helped me put into perspective what was needed to be included in a fellowship application.  The funding proposal exercise was great as it gave me immediate peer review and constructive criticism on a rough fellowship application which I had drafted during the course.

 I also enjoyed attending the aiming for a lectureship course; as it helped me to plan what I needed to do over the next 10 years by showing me what milestones I could put in place.  It was a great opportunity to hear from experts about the options that are available to you at each career point.  I’ve learnt a lot about how grants are broken down and on some occasions it may be more beneficial to apply for smaller specific grants rather than the large national awards as these may be less competitive. 
Being a PFDC postdoc rep for my department has given me the opportunity to make great contacts and to meet other likeminded individuals from across the College. 

What advice would you give to new postdocs?

  • Go to the PFDC website and sign up to as many courses as you are allowed in your first few months. 
  • Start to create a career plan together with a timeline.
  • Don’t take a back seat in your first few months; this can be the most crucial time career-wise so make the most of it. 

If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice when you started being a postdoc what would it be?
To start applying for my own grants (including small ones) as soon as I had graduated. Applying helps to demonstrate your independence as a researcher and also helps with financial security. 

 What are your future aspirations? 
To take over the world!!!  No, truthfully… to continue researching the science that I love, be happy in my job, manage my own group and to make great steps towards merging evolution theory with medical knowledge to advance the field of regenerative medicine.