Not all dancing queens and dinners

January 20, 2006

Name: Tina Overton Age: 46 Job: Senior lecturer in chemistry, Hull University, and director of the Higher Education Academy Physical Sciences Centre.

Salary: £40,000

Practical training/education/ background: I left school after A levels and studied part time for a higher national certificate in chemistry, then for graduate of the Royal Society of Chemistry, a professional rather than an academic qualification. I'm rather proud of not having a BSc. In this time, I worked as a laboratory technician in a company that made conveyor belting and in a National Health Service laboratory. I studied full time for my PhD which was an indulgence, then became a lecturer at what was then Humberside Polytechnic.

Working hours: About 8am to 6pm, but more at home. My subject centre activity involves a lot of travel, and I work longer days when I'm away.

Number of students you teach/staff you work with: Iteach undergraduates on our full-time and part-time BSc and MChem programme. I have particular responsibility for (and empathy with) our part-timers. I supervise one PhD student and work with seven colleagues in the subject centre.

Biggest challenge/bugbear this year: There's never enough time to think or to read. My new PhD student is working in pedagogic research, so I need to get to grips with a completely new research culture quickly.

How you solved it: I'm picking the brains of more experienced colleagues.

Worst moment in university life: In my early days in academia a very senior colleague (now retired) told me I'd never "get on" because I had "domestic responsibilities".

What your office/working space is like: I have a pleasant office with enough space to hold tutorials.

Do you socialise at the university? A few colleagues are good friends. Otherwise, it's just departmental dinners and balls organised by our student chemical society at which the staff put students to shame on the dance floor.

Who are the most difficult people you deal with and how do you cope with them? People who think any time spent thinking about teaching is a waste of time. I ignore them.

Best excuse for bad behaviour: "I'm too busy to be polite."

Do you interact much with other departments? I interact with some colleagues from our physics department and the Centre for Learning Development.

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