UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources


International Women's Day 2022 - Dr Abbie Chapman

8 March 2022

For International Women's Day we asked some women from BSEER about how they got where they are today, what they’re most proud of and what advice they’d offer to other women working in a similar role, read about their experiences below.

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Around the world people are marking International Women's Day. We are joining them by celebrating the contributions and achievements of women in our department.

Dr Abbie Chapman

Research Fellow, Sustainable and Healthy Food Systems
UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources

How did you get into your current role? 

It was a strange case where a risk of unprecedented, sudden funding cuts in my previous project coincided with an opportunity being advertised to join a new team working on a project with similar research goals and an interdisciplinary approach, which I had experience of thanks to my previous project. I applied and interviewed for the role and was very pleased to be welcomed to the new group ready to hit the ground running with lots of support. I think it was a combination of GIS and R (mapping and coding) skills, practice working across disciplines in a food-system context, and demonstrating that I could learn quickly that enabled me to apply for my current role, but only my current supervisor will know that for sure!

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on the Sustainable and Healthy Food Systems (SHEFS) project, where we are investigating the environmental and health impacts of dietary changes in South Africa, India, and the UK. I am a biodiversity scientist who loves mapping, so I bring this together to carry out spatial analyses to find out how growing food crops impacts biodiversity.

What work achievements are you most proud of? 

I have always felt most proud when I am in a room (virtual or real) of scientists that I have been fortunate to bring together for a workshop, to hear them share ideas and get really excited about certain questions, concepts, and datasets. I feel a sense of achievement in having successfully received funding to support such activities but also when scientists are keen to give up time in their busy schedule for a discussion I proposed!  I have learnt so much from these discussions.

What advice would you give to other women working at a university in a similar role? 

There’s always more time and more work but there’s only one you, so remember to look after yourself mentally and physically. That’s easier said than done – I’m still working on it – but if you keep ‘pushing through’ because of that major deadline or target you have right now, you’ll find there’s another and another and that might not be sustainable long-term.  Some of the best scientists I’ve met manage to maintain a healthy work-life balance but it takes being strict with yourself and others to treat time as the precious commodity that it is.