An Interview with Jenny Dunn

Current Job:  LecturerJD

Scientific Discipline/FieldBiology/Ecology/Conservation

Country: UK

Pick some letters (L,G,B,T,Q etc.): Technically L or B, but I prefer G or Q

Website: (work in progress!)

What does your job involve? 

I’m still finding that out at the moment – I started this post a month ago, so am still finding my feet. My research centres on how the environment influences host-parasite-vector interactions, so I spend a lot of time in the field (usually watching or catching birds) and quite a bit in the lab. I also dabble in conservation as I tend to work with declining species – my previous job was leading research into turtle dove declines and I have several ongoing projects along those lines.

How did you get to this job (education etc.)? 

I did a BSc in Ecology followed by an MSc in Biodiversity and Conservation at Leeds. I then tried to move, but the supervisor I wanted to work with for my PhD moved to Leeds, so I stayed put for another 4 years! Towards the end of my PhD I spent a couple of months at Oxford doing some field- and labwork looking at avian personality and parasites, then accepted a job with the RSPB leading research on Turtle Doves. I spent 6.5 years there, and have just moved to Lincoln as a lecturer.


Do you feel being LGBT has affected your career decisions? 

I don’t think so. I was lucky, as when I was an undergrad and doing my Masters and PhD, there were out faculty and students in the department where I was working. I think this definitely helped reassure me that I would be OK if I stayed in research but it is something I’ve seen much less of since leaving Leeds.

Have you had any reactions from colleagues about being LGBT, either good or bad?

Mostly surprise – I think people usually assume I’m straight and it’s not always easy to find an opportunity to set them straight (no pun intended). I haven’t had any obviously bad reactions – of which I’m aware. I do tend to be quite cautious about who I’m out to though, and largely wasn’t out in my previous post – mostly as I was in a long-term straight relationship, so opportunities for coming out were fairly scarce.

What are your plans for the future?

I’m incredibly fortunate to have got a lectureship, and am just starting to build my own research group and get back into teaching. I’m lucky to have had some great mentors and collaborators throughout my career, and I’ve started working with some new brilliant collaborators over the past couple of years. I’m looking forward to seeing where my research takes me and carrying on going to conferences and doing fieldwork in new and interesting places. I want to build a happy and productive (in that order) lab group where young scientists feel confident to bring their own personality and a diversity of approaches to research. I’m also keen to do what I can in terms of being a visibly out scientist and I’d like to get more involved in diversity and equality issues where I can.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I’m on twitter: @jennycdunn

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