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Case studies

Case studies

I left school at the age of 16 and joined the Bentalls Department Store training scheme. I quickly realised it was not what I wanted. I went on to work as a telephonist for Givenchy, a designer for a small packaging company and in a small art studio. These jobs provided nowhere for me to go so I took temporary reception /offi­ce work. A post then came up in a lab at Decca Radar that would take me into the area I had an interest in. At Decca I started in the R & D Thin Film microwave labs and was quickly promoted to leading hand. I went on to set up their full production facility in newly opened labs. I started to further my education completing my City & Guilds Laboratory Technician certification.

I moved to BP Research who supported me in obtaining ‘A’ levels in Chemistry and Geology. I continued to work as a technician at BP for 6 years specialising in nano fossil extraction, scanning electron microscopy, x-ray diffraction and photography and development. After leaving to have my son I set up my own technical services company and continued to produce nano fossil preparations from my kitchen. My son learnt very early on not to eat mud out of strange white bags or crawl around core boxes that seemed a permanent fixture in my house. I worked evenings and did piece work soldering connectors for the aero industry. 8 years on I ended up volunteering at my son’s school. I went from helping with reading to taking art classes and doing basic science with the upper school. I really enjoyed the work and it finally dawned on me that I could be being paid for it. I took on a post at a local school as a technician in the junior science labs. I gradually took on more responsibility - I set up a brand new data logging lab, covered Design Technology classes and got involved with the after school photography club. One afternoon the Head called me to his o­ffice to ask if I could cover Yr 9 Biology and 48 hours later I was teaching it. I ended up teaching Yr 7 Junior Science, Yr 8 Physics and Chemistry. Eventually the paperwork and marking got to me so I found a post in administration at RHUL.

Since moving to RHUL 19 years ago I have taken a wide range of posts from Department Manager in Economics, Head of Student Accommodation, Faculty Admin Manager, to Administrative Support Manager for Registry. Most recently I led the administrative and technical set up of the new Department of Electronic Engineering. I am now the Technical Operations Manager and have come back to where my technical career started out in Electronic Engineering.


I always knew that I wanted to be an archaeologist. When I was a child I was always collecting stones and looking for artefacts around my grandparents’ farm in Spain. When I started school I realised that I loved history and mythology but that I loved the sciences too. I couldn’t choose between the sciences and humanities so quite unusually studied Chemistry, Physics, History and Art.

Whilst deciding what to study at university I discovered I could study environmental archaeology in the UK so I packed my suitcase with 20 kilos and I came here to start my BSc in Archaeology. After my degree I worked as an Environmental Archaeologist with various commercial archaeological companies, travelling all around the UK. Whilst working I started a part-time MSc in Geoarchaeology which o­ffered a combination of field and lab work and I knew that I had found what I wanted.

I was then very fortunate to be off­ered a PhD that combined field archaeology and laboratory work at Plymouth University. It was my first experience in a Geography Department and where I first realised that a lab technician role provided everything I enjoyed: lab work, field work, research and working directly with students. During my summers I volunteered as an archaeologist around the world with field summer schools. I went to Ecuador, Crete and Spain, where I was teaching students and digging at the same time. When I finished my PhD I returned to environmental archaeology as a consultant but when the opportunity to work in the Geography Department at RHUL as a Palaeoecology Technician appeared there was no doubt that I was going to apply.

I have been at RHUL for 4 years now. I really like the Department of Geography and my role as Lab Technician. I am able to contribute to some of the research projects being led by the academic and research staff­, and get involved in a variety of field trips. My favourite thing about being a technician however is working with the students and helping them develop their own laboratory skills.

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