I was lost after my career break ended, I didn't know what to do to get back to research.
Prior to Abir's career break, she was a promising international and active researcher in computer sciences, having studied and completed postdoctoral research in France, Canada and Lebanon, the latter being the country where she was born.
Before her career break, Abir gained an impressive ten publications. She was adapt at giving talks and presenting posters at conferences. Following her PhD, she spent one year in a private company, and a further two years in postdoc research.
I finished my PhD in 2007 at the University of Joseph Fourier, France. During my PhD, I was working on the design, development, and evaluation of a communication system for older people using the user centered design approach. In 2009, I started two years of Postdoctoral research at the University of Montreal, Canada. I was working on the
Design for All approaches.
When she moved to the UK in 2011 because of her husband's career in the technology of numerical simulation, Abir made the decision to focus on her family, to bring up her two young daughters and put on hold her research activities until she was ready to return to work.
Once her daughters were both settled full-time at primary school, Abir felt ready to return to an academic role. After a break of four years, she started to apply for research jobs but found limited opportunities as her experience was judged to be in a 'niche area', with not many research groups near her working in the same area. As a result, she received no offers of employment and started to become despondent, especially after having worked at a high level in research.
During my career break, I always tried to keep a foot in the door of my former research career, by volunteering for local charities.
Abir first heard about a Daphne Jackson Fellowship through a professional networking group and decided to contact the charity to find out more.
She had noticed that some of the work that Professor Gooberham-Hill was involved with within Bristol University's School of Clinical Sciences and Faculty of Health Sciences, accorded with her own research interests. Abir approached Professor Gooberham-Hill to ask about working together on an application for the Fellowship on a research project around accessible interface design for older people, a topic which related to her PhD and her postdoctoral research.
After successfully completing the different stages of the Fellowship application process, Abir was awarded a Daphne Jackson Fellowship.
I was thrilled to hear I was awarded my Fellowship! I am relishing the opportunity to return completely to my research activities. I can now build upon my research work to date but also refresh my skills, increase my knowledge, and learn new skills.
Abir's research project is looking at creating interfaces to new technologies that will allow older people to use them easily, in order to better support older people living independently in their own homes.
I am definitely enjoying being back in the research work environment and feel fully supported by my Fellowship advisor at the Daphne Jackson Trust, my host University, my supervisor and the study groups which I've joined. After my Fellowship ends, I know I will be better equipped to enter the academic or industrial workforce, thanks to the retraining elements of the Fellowship and the support I'm receiving.
Abir's two-year Fellowship started in 2017. She is working at the University of Bristol at 0.5 FTE and is fully sponsored by EPSRC.
A copy of this article is also available on the Daphne Jackson Trust website.