Case study

Lecturer in statistics — Silvia Liverani

Silvia's passion for statistics has led her into an academic career in teaching and research

How did you get your job?

After having studied for a Laurea Triennale in Statistica at the Universita' di Firenze, Italy and then an MSc in Statistics at The University of Warwick, I went on to do a PhD in Statistics, also at Warwick. On completion of my PhD I took a postdoctoral position in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Bristol. I was then awarded an Early Career Fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust. I moved to Imperial College London in 2011 to take up this new position. In 2014 I started my current job, a lectureship in statistics at Brunel University.

As I've progressed I have enjoyed more intellectual freedom and have had more opportunities for teaching undergraduate and postgraduate students

How relevant is your degree to your job?

I have studied statistics since my first year as an undergraduate student and I am now a lecturer in statistics. My subject area couldn't be more relevant.

What are your main work activities?

One of the things I like the most about my job is how every day is intellectually different. My time is divided between research and teaching. Teaching involves preparing and delivering the lectures, as well as meeting with students. Research is more unpredictable, and what I'm doing on a given day depends on what project I'm working on.

I might be reading the literature to prepare myself for a new project, applying existing statistical models, developing new methods or statistical software, meeting collaborators to discuss results or writing up our conclusions. Another key part of my job is to plan ahead for future projects and apply for funding.

Occasionally, when the funding is available, I get to travel to workshops and conferences around the world. Since starting my PhD I have been able to travel to Australia, Japan, Texas (USA) and many European countries to attend research meetings.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

The core of my job has been the same since I started my PhD: research in statistics. However, as I've progressed to postdoctoral research and then to lecturer I have enjoyed more intellectual freedom and I have had more opportunities for teaching undergraduate and postgraduate students.

I am ambitious and, as you might have realised, I really enjoy my job. So my career ambition is to continue on the academic career path and make it to professor.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I really enjoy the intellectual challenges. This job keeps me interested and I never stop learning. I enjoy the variety of the tasks required and how I can use different skills in different situations. I like working at a university as I find it a stimulating environment, and I enjoy the opportunities for professional development offered here. Last but not least, I really enjoy the intellectual freedom I have in my job. Being able to learn about the topics that I am passionate about and carve my own path is exciting, fun and very rewarding.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?

Writing has never been my strongest suit, and as I progress more and more on this career path a greater part of my day seems to be devoted to writing, whether it is reports, research papers, lecture notes or funding applications.

Any words of advice for someone who wants to get into this job?

The academic career is a great one - I honestly find it hard to find negative aspects to it. However, this career is only advisable if you have a keen interest in your subject area.

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