On Monday 14 December, we'll be holding a #medscilife Twitter chat with Professor Geraint Rees FMedSci, Dean of Life Sciences at UCL, who will be talking about his own career and his advice to others. Here, he tells us a little bit more about himself and his work.
I’m Dean of Life Sciences at UCL, responsible for several hundred researchers and several thousand students as part of a large multi-faculty global university. I’m a cognitive neuroscientist and neurologist by training and still maintain an active research group, which is not without its challenges!
Like many academics, my training followed a conventionally unconventional path with spells in and out of clinical training, time in California as a postdoc, and juggling career with family commitments.
I’ve always been passionate about training whether in the laboratory, working for the BMA, or through leadership of large NIHR, Wellcome Trust and MRC doctoral training programmes at UCL.
For me the greatest pleasures of research are the challenge, the variety, the excitement of discovery and the satisfaction of transforming people’s careers. The greatest challenge is always focusing on the right biological question – one that is ambitious but tractable.
The future is almost by definition unknown – if we knew what we were doing, it wouldn’t be called research – but strategically it is crucial to think about what sort of skills and abilities we need in the researchers of the future. I suspect some of the skills will be common to those required today – creativity, focus, integrity, attention to detail – but some will be new ;for example, flexibility and the ability to work across disciplinary boundaries while maintaining disciplinary excellence.
Entrepreneurship, a commitment to knowledge exchange and a global perspective may also be key aspects of some academic careers – but I look forward to hearing people’s views!