• Hour glass icon4 minutes

Prof Sally Shuttleworth

Current position
Professor of English Literature, University of Oxford

Details of PhD
English Literature, Cambridge University, 1980.

Year became PI

Total number of postdocs managed during career

Case study conducted
May 2020

What’s the added value of a postdoctoral researcher over and above a doctoral researcher? 

Postdocs can work on their own, creatively, and can help change the direction of research. That rarely happens with doctoral students. They also bring real funds of knowledge to the project, and a maturity and independence which one could not expect from a PhD student. 

How have postdocs enhanced your own research career? 

My first project with postdocs, Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical, was at a time when few humanities scholars had postdocs. This was an interdisciplinary project, and I learnt a huge amount from the historians of science who were postdocs on the project. 

I also learnt a lot about how to run a project from a postdoc who had previously been on the Darwin Correspondence Project (to digitise the letters Darwin sent and received). 

What kinds of careers have your postdocs gone on to have beyond academia? 

The first three all became academics; from the next project the postdoc became a highly successful novelist and writer of popular works on the nineteenth century, and now teaches Creative Writing at a university. 

More recently, one has gone into research management at the Imperial War Museum, another is working for the Medical Colleges, another in access and outreach at a Cambridge college; and another is now Head Curator at the Science and Media Museum, Bradford. 

What was the project you ran on which Geoffrey Belknap worked as a postdoc? 

The project was ‘Constructing Scientific Communities: Citizen Science in the 19th and 21st Centuries’ funded by the AHRC. Geoff Belknap worked on nineteenth-century natural history periodicals and, in conjunction with the Natural History Museum, London, ran the very successful citizen science project, Science Gossip

Can you explain how Geoffrey’s role as Head Curator of the Science and Media Museum, Bradford, helped with your project’s impact? 

Geoffrey Belknap was appointed as a curator at the Science and Media Museum, Bradford, in part due to his previous work on our project with the Natural History Museum, and his work for the project on citizen science. 

His appointment, and rapid elevation to Head Curator, opened further doors for the project, enabling us to run a joint event in 2019 for National Science Week, focusing on our citizen science project, ‘Science Gossip’, and more generally on citizen science. 

We were able to reach a large local audience, many of whom were very young, and introduce them to the ideas of citizen science. Members of the Zooniverse team were there, and also our project artist, the animator Sydney Padua, who gave some really popular workshops on how to do your own animations, which the children loved. 

We also helped the museum to introduce its own stream of work on citizen science. We were able both to extend the range of those who engaged with our work and also to have an influence on museum practice. The Museum is now looking to do further work on citizen science. 

Read Dr Geoffrey Belknap’s case study of his journey

Refine image Refine Cross
Filter by: Unsure what to search for? Click here
130 minutes
Flash badge View notice(s)