Dr Caroline Jarrett
As Deputy Technical Manager supporting research groups in the School of Physics, Caroline Jarrett is always on the go. No single day is the same: she organises the laboratories, maintains Health and Safety standards, trains new research staff and students and works with the Technical Manager to ensure that the labs are in the best condition required for the diverse research projects being worked on at any one time.
“My role has evolved over time. I used to focus on pure research, supporting one research group in particular, but now I work with a number of different teams,” Caroline explains.
"As I'm involved with all the research groups, I'm delighted when the groups get good results. It's exciting and inspiring and a positive reflection on all our hard work. It's also a daily reminder of why I became a Technician."
Caroline has a real thirst for science - which is not surprising given that she comes from a family with a strong background in the discipline. With a PhD in endocrinology, her main interest has always been in human disease, in particular cancer. However, her role has led her to investigate other diseases, and now she works with a wide range of colleagues, not only from the School of Physics but also including other parts of the University, like the School of Biological Sciences and School of Earth Sciences. She also works full time, balancing the demands of a prolific scientific research environment with that of a young family.
“The key challenges are, as ever, managing both work and family life,” she says. “Being able to work in a flexible environment is incredibly important to ensuring a healthy balance is maintained. The school provides a brilliant framework for this, coupled with extremely understanding and supportive management.”
Caroline’s young daughter is at School and following acquisition of this new role Caroline hoped to make some changes in her current pattern of work to accommodate the relocation.
“I discussed this with my managers as soon as possible, as providing plenty of notice to a request to change work patterns is really important. Luckily the school is usually very amenable and approachable regarding personal issues, and we certainly benefit from an environment where the management trusts its staff, and vice versa,” she continues.
Caroline came back to work after six months of maternity leave. “This seems to be the usual amount of time for colleagues to be away” she says. “If you’re away longer, there’s a feeling that it will be harder to catch up, as science develops so fast. But even so, all my colleagues have been incredibly supportive and I think that, even if you are away for longer, with determination and the right support, then you can catch up.”
It is this positive experience that encouraged Caroline to become a Maternity Mentor as part of the University Maternity Connections Scheme.
Caroline works in a centrally positioned shared office, which really promotes an accessible, positive, working policy where productive interactions are able to happen in person.
“I think that this encourages a strong sense of community and is one of the reasons for our positive, working environment. Although from time to time, you might encounter the odd bit of banter about ‘leaving early’ from colleagues, this is good natured, and just a reflection of different working patterns. If you come in early, not everyone knows this – but science is incredibly output focused, and everyone can see you are delivering, even if you are working a different pattern to them.”
Caroline also believes that the different perspectives brought to the laboratory from women and men enhance scientific output.
“It’s so important to have a diversity of perspectives in the lab, and that’s why men and women working together in science is crucial. I’m pleased that my female colleagues are able to continue their careers in science while having families. It strengthens the discipline having men and women working so closely together.”
With plans to stay in science, preferably in the University environment, Caroline would love to progress further, should the opportunity arise.
“I would enjoy the role of a Technical Manager, but whatever happens, I want to carry on developing, learning as much as I can and teaching others. I think that this is a great place for me to focus on my career and care for my family.