Researchers in Focus: Dr Michael Robinson and Dr Katherine Roscoe

Posted on: 23 March 2021 by Nick Jones in 2018 Posts

Dr Michael Robinson and Dr Katherine Roscoe
Dr Michael Robinson and Dr Katherine Roscoe

This month, we are pleased to feature two early career researchers from the Humanities & Social Sciences Faculty, Dr Michael Robinson and Dr Katherine Roscoe. Michael and Katherine are Co-Chairs of the Research Staff Association, and here they reflect on their research and their involvement in the University’s researcher community.

Dr Michael Robinson is a Leverhulme Trust funded Early Career Researcher working on disability and welfare policy in the aftermath of the First World War across Britain, Australia, and Canada. He is currently working at the History department under the mentorship of Professor Sally Sheard. He completed his PhD at the nearby Institute of Irish Studies in 2016 on a thesis dedicated to shell-shocked Irish veterans of the First World War which was recently published as a monograph in Manchester University Press’ Disability History series.

Michael became more involved in the Research Staff Association (RSA) in 2018 attending its informal social gatherings and programme events in 2018. As Principal Investigator of his own project, Michael enjoyed meeting colleagues across the University who were at a similar career stage and who shared similar career aspirations, issues and concerns regardless of their research specialism. This camaraderie was especially helpful as there were so few Early Career Researchers or Post-Doctoral Researchers based at his own department. Michael was privileged to be invited to serve as a Co-Chair for the Research Staff Association in the summer of 2020.

Dr Katherine (Katy) Roscoe is also a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow researching the integral role of convict labour in modernising dockyards across the British empire during the steam revolution. She is a historical criminologist based in the Department of Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology. She joined the University in 2018, as an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow, during which time she created a digital resource Cockatoo Island Convicts, showcasing the diverse lives of 2500 prisoners incarcerated on Sydney’s “Alcatraz” in the mid-nineteenth century.  

It wasn’t until lockdown cut her off from regular coffees with colleagues, that Katy began to get involved in the Research Staff Association. She joined the organising committee of the annual RSA Conference which took place online in December 2020. She co-organised an Images of Research competition on the theme “Research in the Time of Coronavirus” which invited research staff to share snapshots of their working lives in lockdown. She so enjoyed the chance to connect with postdocs from different faculties across the university, particularly at a time of social distancing, that she jumped at the chance to join the RSA committee, first as a deputy, and from February 2021, as a co-chair. She has found it particularly rewarding to represent ECRs from humanities and social sciences, who can feel quite isolated as PIs on their own projects, and still have limited access to offices and libraries where they might usually meet colleagues.

Building on the strong foundations put in place by previous RSA Co-Chairs, and with the help of the University’s Academy Team, Michael and Katy are actively involved in advancing the interests of researchers working across the University. These interests include, for example, meeting with University leadership once a month to address issues on behalf of the University’s research community, organising ‘Lunch and Learn’ events to assist in the career development of research staff and organising ‘Researcher Wellbeing Week’ to, hopefully, help improve the work/life balance of researchers. An overview of the RSA’s work over the past twelve months is included in its annual report.

Katy and Michael are also involved in organising the National Postdoc Conference which Liverpool is hosting in September 2021. It will crown off a weeklong series of events for National Postdoc Appreciation Week. We will be hosting a series of social events in the weeks lead-up to the conference, to give postdocs from universities across the UK to meet, share their experiences and have some fun!

RSA virtual meeting

A virtual RSA meeting taking place in Kumospace.

Both Katy and Michael have really benefited from participating in more informal social activities as part of the RSA, like our monthly coffees over Zoom, virtual parties in Kumospace, and Christmas Bingo. With Covid-19 impacting upon our access to campus, and denying researchers the chance to meet in person, they’ve found their time with the RSA beneficial to their mental wellbeing. They both feel part of a community even when all meetings and events are being held virtually. All research staff looking to meet colleagues informally are welcome to join these regular events. Michael and Katy would always encourage research staff across the University to keep an eye on their inbox for the RSA weekly newsletter and to join in with these events - we look forward to meeting you soon!

Follow Michael on Twitter.

Follow Katy on Twitter.

Keywords: Researcher in Focus.