My story – Natalie Wheeler

I am a Principal Research Fellow in the ORC and my research is focussed on the fabrication, characterisation and applications of hollow core optical fibres.

I joined the ORC as a junior postdoc in late 2010, straight after finishing my PhD, to work on an ambitious European project. This gave me the opportunity to work in an exciting research area, develop new skills and collaborate with several industrial and academic partners. Since then, I have been able to work on many different projects and develop my research career.

I have had opportunities to take on additional responsibilities, such as teaching, and to contribute to the success and culture of the department. I have also taken three periods of maternity leave and been able to work part-time and flexibly around childcare commitments.

In 2015, with support of my line manager and other colleagues in the department, I successfully applied for a Royal Society University Research Fellowship; this has given me the platform to develop my own independent research activities and group.

My story – Ben Mill

I am an Associate Professor within the Lasers and Special Fibres group within the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC).

I completed my PhD at the ORC in 2009, in the application of high-harmonic generation for diffractive imaging. After my PhD, I became a facility manager, overseeing the operation and maintenance of a state-of-the-art femtosecond laser laboratory at the ORC.

In 2018 I was awarded an EPSRC 5-year fellowship, which enabled me to pursue my own research agenda at the interface of laser machining and machine learning. During this time I developed a wide variety of novel methods and algorithms for controlling and optimizing laser processes for various materials and applications.

In 2023, I became the programme manager (Co-i) for the HiPPo Programme Grant, a multi-disciplinary project that aims to apply machine learning techniques to fibre lasers, for enhancing their performance and functionality in manufacturing applications.

During my career, the ORC has provided me with the opportunities and the collaborative environment I needed to excel as an independent researcher. I am grateful for the support and guidance I have received from my colleagues and mentors, and I look forward to continuing my research journey at the ORC.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion are central to the ethos of the ORC. We particularly encourage women, Black, Asian and minority ethnic, LGBTQ+ and disabled applicants to apply for this position.

We value diversity and inclusion at the University and aspire for our staff population to be broadly representative of our community.   In recognition of our continued commitment to improving equality for women in science, we hold an Athena SWAN Bronze.   We give full consideration to applicants that wish to work flexibly including part-time and due consideration will be given to applicants who have taken a career break.

The University has a generous parental leave policy and onsite childcare facilities along with other benefits.

Our Mentoring

The mentoring initiative enriches our culture by providing a supportive environment for personal development. The mentoring process allows time and space for discussion and personal reflection. It is widely available and relevant to every individual in the ORC , irrespective of their level of seniority or job family.

Unlike other mentoring schemes used in companies and large institutions, individuals are not paired with a specific mentor. Our approach is open and welcoming, and the activities are separate from any line management structure.