Another path for career development in research

A scientist taking an interdisciplinary approach to biotechnological research within the University’s Computational Biology Facility (CBF) is making the most of collaboration and support opportunities to boost her career.

Dr Eva Caamano-Gutierrez completed a PhD in Systems Biology at the University of Warwick and subsequently had a short-term research fellowship at the Warwick Antimicrobial Interdisciplinary Centre. She joined the University of Liverpool in 2016, starting as a data scientist. Since August 2018, Eva spends half of her working week as Project Manager of the Facility, exemplifying the University’s commitment to providing opportunities for staff to develop a broader skill base and advance their careers.

Head and shoulders shot of Eva

Research environment with knowledge exchange at its heart

As part of a multi-disciplinary team, Dr Caamano-Gutierrez has had the opportunity to effectively communicate and provide research insights with medical doctors, bench scientists, mathematicians, industry representatives and funding bodies; supporting eight research projects in key areas within the Institute for Integrative Biology’s From genomes to biological systems research theme, with a variety of research outputs.

Eva says: “These engagements with a range of stakeholder groups within and outside academia have afforded me insights into the challenges and opportunities associated with multiple fields and sectors, and have enabled me to develop the transferable skills required to be successful, such as leadership, people management and project management skills.”

Bringing colleagues together

Eva’s time as co-chair of the Institute of Integrative Biology (IIB) Post-Doc society led to a seeding role for the IIB Career Development Week in March 2018. She, as part of the organising team, helped curate a week-long development opportunity for IIB staff. She was also a key member of the multi-Faculty steering group of Post-Doctoral Research Associates who worked in partnership with The Academy to set up the University’s Research Staff Association which provides a forum for shared development, policy input and representation of research staff issues and concerns.

She organised a successful multi-disciplinary networking event for early career researchers during Making an Impact Week 2018 and plans another as part of this year’s programme.

Empowering others and mentoring

Eva leads the professional development initiatives presented by CBF, providing development opportunities in data science and bioinformatics for other researchers, such as a course teaching the programming language R.

Supporting the University’s continued engagement with the Athena SWAN Charter as a means to distinguish and embed good practice with regard to equality and diversity, Eva further contributes to the 2026 University strategy; for the advancement of learning and ennoblement of life, by volunteering with the charity The Girls’ Network. In this role, she mentors girls from the disadvantaged communities to inspire and empower them.

Eva said: “As the first person to go to University in my family I know how important it is to have mentors along the way that would not only guide you but most importantly show you the range of possibilities you can access. This is even more necessary for girls as women are typically underrepresented in many professions including STEM. As Marie Wilson said “You can’t be what you can’t see” and through The Girls’ Network we try to make women visible within all professions while providing mentorship and support to girls of the most disadvantage communities. In these sessions we cover topics from positive risk taking to networking and we encourage all of them to grow their curiosity and embrace their professional ambitions.”

Recognition and Value

Eva’s work has led to her being commended for three awards in the 2018 University of Liverpool Staff Awards – an individual mention as Volunteer of the Year and two in the group categories of Innovation of the Year and David Ellams Award for Outstanding Contribution.

Eva cites her proactive attitude as a key factor leading to her role expansion to include Project Management duties at the CBF. She said: “In this post, I contribute to the development of a new business plan for the Facility as well as engaging with the administrative and financial bodies of the Technology Directorate to coordinate resources and appraise financial reviews.”

This recognition of achievement and success is a fundamental part of the University’s Action Plan based on the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers, and a key component of the Research and Impact Strategy to develop and deliver world-class research.

Continuous development

Eva has been a participant on the Springboard Women’s Development Programme and is currently enrolled in the Association for Project Management’s Project Fundamentals qualification course facilitated by The Academy

“Continuous career development is just part of a scientist’s job,” says Eva.  “It is important to reflect upon gaps and challenges in our skillset and have a proactive attitude about them. Saying yes to opportunities that may take us from our comfort zone and bring us new experiences and contacts is usually a good starting point to branching out our circle of knowledge. 

“I also consider what I can give, what skills may I have that might be useful to my community. In my experience you often gain skills by helping others, and in all cases you would have done something good and expanded your network.

“I am extremely fortunate at the University of Liverpool to be fully supported to develop my skills by my line manager and able to access further development opportunities in IIB and also through The Academy.”

The University provides high quality development opportunities to empower every individual to foster their potential. Learn more about The Academy’s staff development offering here (staff only).

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