Andy shares more detail about their practice and how they felt about being shortlisted for a Bristol Teaching Award.
- Which Award were you shortlisted for?
Outstanding Research Supervision
- How did you feel when you found out you had been shortlisted for an Award?
The best word I can think of is humbling. Reading the nominations nearly reduced me to tears at times. I don’t seek any recognition in this regard – I just love interacting with the brilliant early-career researchers that I am lucky enough to work with – but you can’t not be humbled when reading what they wrote.
- Can you tell us a little bit about your practice and why you were nominated?
I try to create a friendly, collegiate, welcoming and fun atmosphere in which to do research. There are two main parts to this. The first is to build a working relationship with each individual such that they are not intimidated, they understand that nothing they say will be viewed as silly and that they are comfortable in opening up and being themselves – everyone delivers their best when they’re relaxed and happy. I look to work with early-career researchers as collaborators – many, probably most, of the best ideas come from them; it is my role to facilitate things so they can turn those great ideas into reality. But everyone is unique, and their circumstances constantly changing, so adapting to find the best way to help them at different times is crucial. The other aspect is trying to build a research group where everybody cares about everyone else and what they are doing, even if there are lots of different research projects being worked on. If you can get the culture right, then the conversations flow, the community spirit builds, help is offered, links are made, collaborations and friendships are forged, and new group members are immersed in that from the start. Watching it happening, and being a part of it when I can, is the great joy of leading a research group.
- What inspires you to go the extra mile with your research supervision?
I go the extra mile because the early-career researchers absolutely deserve it – I see a major part of my role not only as helping them to achieve now but also to set them up as best as possible for what comes next. They deserve the best opportunity to be successful, so I try to take the pressure off when I can by using my own experience. Working with these brilliant scientists and communicators, these generally amazing people, is a highlight of the job and inspires my own work and drives me to want to help them achieve what is important to them. They’re just great people to interact with!
- What would you like to share with others about your research supervision?
There can’t be one style of supervising – everyone needs different types of help and that constantly changes, so I try to be as flexible as possible. I try to create a welcoming, collaborative atmosphere in which there are always other group members that can help when I’m not available and, indeed, because I’m often not the best source of information and expertise anyway. I remind myself frequently to remember the bigger picture – emphasising work-life balance, talking about my own family and life outside research, discussing what people want to go onto next and helping whatever that career path (which is often not the same as mine). Above all, I try to make things fun.