IC Reporter Issue 11 (12 September 1995 - 2 October 1995)
Staff Newspaper of Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine

IC Reporter


Dr Karen Scrivener tells Carrie Golus about her new position

Dr Karen Scrivener, lecturer in the Department of Materials, has been appointed research manager at Lafarge, a leading international producer of cement and other building materials. She will be based in the research laboratory in Lyons, France.

As a researcher in the areas of cement and concrete microstructures, Karen has had links with Lafarge for the last seven years. "In the last couple of years they've been trying to persuade me to come and work for them, rather than work for them here, so to speak," she said.

In her new position, Karen will commission and coordinate research, both within the company's own labs and at universities. She is hoping to maintain links with her research group at the Department of Materials and will become a visiting lecturer at Imperial.

Karen earned her PhD at Imperial in 1984, and has worked here since then. The decision to leave was particularly hard, Karen said, because she received a Royal Society Fellowship between 1985 and 1990. "Those Fellowships are meant to be a trigger to get people into academic research. But over those five years there were about three reorganisations of the research councils, and every time there was a total change in policy," said Karen. "Without an established track record, it seems like your applications get absolutely nowhere in that kind of environment. Initially I was very bitter, but now I've made the decision to go to France I'm excited about the challenge of it."

One of her frustrations with doing industrial research at Imperial was the fact that no one university was responsible for the entire project: one university would handle one part of the research project, while another would do a different part. "You never get an idea of the whole picture," she explained. "So much work now is based on the availability of equipment or specialised techniques - microscopy or nuclear magnetic resonance, things like that. No one university can get a concentration of equipment." In her new job, she will know what all the results are, which was not always the case in a university context.

She has taken the job on a permanent basis. So obviously she must speak French? "Uhhh, well, not all that well, no," she laughed. "I can get by." She plans to use the sink-or-swim method of language learning, as will her husband and two children, aged four and one.

She will miss the teaching aspect of her job, which she describes as "very rewarding". In her new job, she hopes to maintain the link with Imperial, providing funding for two researchers.

What will she be glad to leave behind? "I won't miss the weather," she admitted. "And I won't miss the food!"

Carrie Golus is the media liaison officer.

(c) Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, 1995

Last Revised: 9 September 1995