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Women in Science

Claudia is a postdoctoral research associate at the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Oxford.

Claudia Bertoni

BACKGROUND

at the time of the interview – 2017

Claudia Bertoni is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Department of Earth Sciences. She has one child.

EXTENDED BIOGRAPHY

at the time of the interview -  2017

Claudia is a postdoctoral research associate at the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Oxford. As a child Claudia was always interested in the natural world. Both her parents encouraged her interest in the environment and science. Claudia had a passion for reading and literature but when confronted with the early choice of the Italian high school system, she decided to pursue studies in science as she could see a wider applicability to the work environment.

Claudia went to university in Italy where she studied Earth Sciences, which she describes as the perfect combination of applied science and the study of the natural world. 

Claudia came to the UK on a postgraduate fellowship at Cardiff University during which she analysed data provided from industry which is not normally accessible to the academic community. Her supervisor encouraged her to stay on for a PhD and she was allowed to design her own project. This project also gave her the opportunity to interact with industrial partners and appreciate the opportunities offered by collaborative research.

After her PhD, Claudia worked in industry for some years and lived in Spain and Indonesia. She then returned to academia because she wanted to specialise further and develop her ideas in a “wider scientific and innovative context”.

Claudia feels that there is a lot being done at her Department at Oxford to improve career opportunities and support women in Earth Sciences. She feels that temporary jobs and fewer opportunities in academia, compared to industry, make it particularly difficult if you want to build a family, and you do not follow the traditional academic career path. In a mixed portfolio career, the time spent working in industry may mean that you are automatically excluded from a series of grant competitions.

Claudia did experience some difficulties when she first returned from maternity leave, as she was not an independent researcher and she was working in a research group involving many other people, where the project had moved on by the time she was back to work. To help her catch up when back to work, Claudia was awarded additional research funding from the Vice Chancellor’s Diversity Fund.

Claudia advises others planning to pursue a career in academia to have a “Plan B” because it is a complex and competitive environment. In this context, she thinks it is useful to build a professional and personal support network to ease career plans and transitions.