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Natasha Elina

Dr Natasha Elina, Senior Research Associate and Broodbank Fellow

I joined the Department of Plant Sciences in 2009 as a post-doctoral research associate in the group of Dr Ian Henderson. Throughout my time at the Department, I feel that I have been extremely lucky to work in a friendly and supportive environment that has helped me at every stage of career progression towards my current role as Senior Research Associate and Broodbank Fellow.

In 2013 I was awarded a Broodbank Research Fellowship hosted in the laboratory of Dr Henderson. This Fellowship allowed me to follow a new research direction that fell within the scope of the Henderson group research interests and also allowed me to build a foundation for my future independent research. My research outputs were acknowledged by the Department and in 2015 I was successfully promoted to Senior Research Associate.

After taking a year’s maternity leave in 2015/16, I requested to return to work on a part-time basis (50%). This decision was fully supported by Dr Henderson and the Department. My current flexible working pattern allows me to pursue a research career while also providing plenty of opportunities to support family life.

Feeling that I needed to strengthen my experience of teaching undergraduates, I applied for, and was selected to participate in, the University Teaching Associates’ Programme. The programme is aimed at supporting early career academics to develop and master their teaching techniques, strategy and philosophy. Dr Henderson and the Department fully supported my participation by providing me with the necessary teaching allocation required for completion of the programme.

I feel that my motivation to progress towards an independent research career has been fully supported throughout my time in the Department of Plant Sciences.  Dr Henderson has helped me to develop research independence, teaching and managing skills by encouraging me to mentor Part II and PhD students, attend and actively participate in international and UK conferences by giving presentations, and involving me in research funding applications. The latter resulted in my role as a Researcher Co-Investigator on RCUK grant proposals.

The Head of Department has invited me to participate in staff meetings as an independent researcher. I feel incredibly grateful to Department members, especially Dr Ian Henderson, Sir David Baulcombe, Professor Julian Hibberd, Professor Uta Paszkowski and Dr Matthew Davey, who have provided me with formal and informal mentoring, career and scientific advice, and helped me to establish collaborations in order to initiate my future independent research.