By Inês Baptista, Research Manager to Professor Ara Darzi, IGHI
Growing up, I was a typical nerd with straight As and a passion for science. So much so that at times, many thought my sister was an only child as I spent most of my time indoors reading.
It came as no surprise that I decided to pursue a degree in Biology, and then a PhD in Developmental Biology where I studied the establishment of asymmetry in the heart of zebrafish. I fondly remember glimpses of success throughout, like when my cloning efforts finally worked and created the most beautiful embryos. However, these were the rare moments as most of my time as a scientist involved many unsuccessful experiments and frustration.
Although I wanted to pursue a career in science, conducting research in a lab was not the right path for me. I decided to put my skills to use in a way that would still allow me to do this while having gratification more at hand. As such, I moved from the spotlight to backstage and became a research manager.
I have held several posts as a manager in science, including being an operations manager at a biotech company, laboratory manager and senior scientific operations manager in different academic settings. No post is the same neither does it stay the same. Management in science involves a plethora of ever-changing functions. The exciting thing about it is knowing that in one way or another it will inevitably help pave the way to success and for things to move forward. I could be working on obtaining funding, setting up a facility, acquiring a new major piece of equipment or organising the next seminar series.
As a research manager at IGHI, I am involved in the management of our co-director, Professor Ara Darzi’s research programmes. This ranges from supporting grant applications, advising on resource availability and funder strategy, ensuring institutional compliance and liaising with internal and external stakeholders. Another aspect of the role I very much enjoy is supporting the postgraduate research students in their journey to obtain a PhD. I do all this while integrated in a close-knit team with my colleagues Steve McAteer, Hendy Maheswaran and Rachel Davies. It is an absolute pleasure.
Acting as the first point of contact for all research-related activities is a privilege. It allows me to interact with the amazing people that make up the fabric of IGHI and Imperial College London daily. I’m exposed to all the exciting work, in what feels like a constant flow of learning opportunities. I also deal with a lot of problem-solving and stressful deadlines. As challenging as this might be at times, it contributes to my professional growth and means there’s never a dull moment in the role.
I feel fortunate to be a research manager at the world-leading Institute that is IGHI. I’ve been lucky to have worked in world-renowned institutions in the past and could not be happier for continuing to work in this field, learning from truly inspirational leaders and people.
As a research manager. I found the right place and the right way for me to be in science. And now that I think of it, I end up standing not at backstage, but having a front-row seat instead.