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RCUK launches research career case studies to inspire young people

08 October 2012

Research Councils UK (RCUK) has today (8 October 2012) published an online suite of case studies designed to inspire the next generation to think about pursuing a career in research.

Each case study tells their own personal story of how they got involved in research, what it takes to be a researcher, and their rewarding experiences from their chosen career paths.

The case studies are aimed at young people and highlight the opportunities research skills can give, not only in academia but also in the wider world of business, industry and commerce. The skills gained from a research career are highly sought after by increasing numbers of national and international companies working with UK researchers.

The resource currently includes 29 case studies in total covering a wide range of disciplines including maths, biology, and social sciences, as well as physics – a subject highlighted in a recent study, which found that fewer girls are opting to study physics at A level and missing out on a breadth of career opportunities.

New case studies will be added to the site regularly to promote the wide variety of careers available in research as well as demonstrating the multitude of routes to those careers that young people can pursue.

Dr Steph Forrester has had three careers: a chemical engineer, a world-class Olympic triathlete, and now a sports technology lecturer. She said: “On retirement from triathlon, I was keen to combine my passions for sport and research and my current career does this perfectly. I always wanted a job that didn't feel like a job, and I have certainly achieved that! Research is a very rewarding career in which you are constantly pushing the boundaries of existing knowledge, and then applying that to improve the quality of life for everyone.”

Theo Farrell is a professor of War in the Modern World at Kings College London, who researches innovation within military organisations, including the UK military in Southern Afghanistan. As a world authority in his discipline, he is often called upon to advise the military and government.

He said: “Research enables us to develop new knowledge, with which we can challenge received wisdom, improve society, make people healthier and hold governments to account. What drives you is a passion for your subject and often, your research involves a puzzle of some kind, and you just want to find out the answer.” Professor John Womersley, RCUK Champion for Public Engagement with Research, said: “We are delighted to launch this new online resource to demonstrate the benefit of research and highlight the exciting discoveries and developments that young people can not only contribute to but can drive themselves. RCUK believes that inspiring the next generation to consider the value of a career in research is vital to ensure that the UK maintains its world-leading position, providing critical contributions to the economy and the pressing challenges facing society.”

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Further information

Katie Clark
Press and Communications Manager
Tel: 01793 444592 or email: Katie Clark

Notes to editors

  1. The Institute of Physics report, It’s Different for Girls, published on Wednesday 3 October 2012, available at

  2. The researcher career case studies(compiled by Peter Finegold) are available at

  3. RCUK invites submissions for case study stories to add to this resource. For further information, please contact

  4. Research Councils UK (RCUK) is the strategic partnership of the UK's seven Research Councils who annually invest around £3 billion in research. We support excellent research, as judged by peer review, that has an impact on the growth, prosperity and wellbeing of the UK. To maintain the UK’s global research position we offer a diverse range of funding opportunities, foster international collaborations and provide access to the best facilities and infrastructure around the world. We also support the training and career development of researchers and work with them to inspire young people and engage the wider public with research. To maximise the impact of research on economic growth and societal wellbeing we work in partnership with other research funders including the Technology Strategy Board, the UK Higher Education funding bodies, business, government, and charitable organisations.

    The seven UK Research Councils are:

    • Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC);
    • Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC);
    • Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC);
    • Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC);
    • Medical Research Council (MRC);
    • Natural Environment Research Council (NERC);
    • Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC).