As deputy director of the BSc Medical Pharmacology programme and principle investigator of his own research laboratory at Swansea University, Aidan splits his time between lecturing and research
What degree did you study?
I graduated with a first class honours degree in biomedical sciences (pharmacology) from the University of Aberdeen and then went on to study for a PhD at Queen's University Belfast.
How did you get your job?
During both my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, I worked closely with the British Pharmacological Society. During this time I had the opportunity to meet people within the field, including my current boss. I had worked previously with her in other roles within the Society and when a lectureship post became available she suggested I apply.
Although I didn't have much teaching experience in a traditional classroom setting, I had done a lot of public engagement and work within the field and was able to show that my skills were directly transferable to the job. I was offered my lectureship at Swansea University Medical School in 2018, while still writing my PhD thesis.
What's a typical working day like?
My working days are varied and include time spent preparing lectures for modules on topics such as toxicology, genomics or anatomy. I also spend time with students, helping them with applications for further study or jobs. I'm in the lab a lot, where we have students undertaking pharmacology-focused projects. Other days are spent working on administration or marking.
How relevant is your degree?
The pharmacological knowledge I gained during my undergraduate degree has helped me teach the subject to students.
The transferable skills I developed during my PhD have enabled me to set up my own lab at Swansea University, the Swansea Worm Integrative Research Laboratory (SWIRL), which is researching novel animal models for pharmacology research and education.
What do you enjoy about your job?
I enjoying getting students excited about drug therapies and the differences they can make to a patient's life. I get paid to talk to people from all walks of life, all over the world, about science. When I'm not talking about science, I'm doing it in the lab.
What are the challenges?
A fundamental issue with academic jobs is knowing when to stop. There is always just one more email, one more lecture slide, one more paper to write. It's important to have honest and frank discussions with your team and manager about your role, your goals and your workload.
Where do you hope to be in five years?
I would like to have further developed my research laboratory, become a senior lecturer and be working towards the goal of associate professor. I'd also like to further develop some of the teaching in the medical pharmacology degree to showcase the diverse career opportunities open to students with BSc degrees.
What advice can you give to others?
- Get your name out there and make sure people know you and your work. Make your name stick and people will want you for the job.
- Speak to the line manager of the role you're applying for ahead of submitting an application. This shows you're keen, but also allows you figure out what they want from an applicant and assess if you fit their criteria.
- Your best asset is your personality. Be honest about who you are and you'll end up working somewhere that wants you for you.
Find out more
- Learn more about the role of a pharmacologist.
- Gain an insight into the science and pharmaceuticals sector.