Spotlight on Anne Laybourne
10 January 2019
This week the Spotlight is on Anne Laybourne, who was recently appointed to a newly created job: Community Research Manager. Her role is to support Masters students and their supervisors to work in partnership with a community organisation on their dissertation project.
What does your role involve and how long have you been at UCL?
I’ve been at UCL as a research study manager for 2½ years now but my Community Research Manager role is a brand new one at UCL, which is really exciting! It is the product of the Provost’s commitment to public engagement, emphasised in UCL 2034, and the decade of engagement work within UCL Culture, especially the Public Engagement Unit.
I started in this role in November 2018 and I sit within the Volunteering Service in the Students’ Union. I am building on the great work the Volunteering Service does matching students who want to volunteer with community organisations - my role takes a slightly different approach where we will support Masters students and their supervisors to work in partnership with a community organisation on their dissertation project.
I find it so exciting because there’s something in there for everyone – a Masters student can receive specialist training around communication and networking skills and gain experience of partnership working, all of which is fantastic for their employability after their course ends. We think it will improve the postgraduate student UCL experience. There are training opportunities for dissertation supervisors and support to build lasting relationships with appropriate partners – this will enhance the impact of their research, which is important to REF and promotion at UCL. Finally, we expect this way of working to enable community organisations to access the impressive level of talent and expertise within UCL to answer research problems they identify themselves. Essentially, I am a match-making service for students, supervisors, and community organisations to bring about lovely collaborative research!
What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?
I am most proud of is a recent video abstract I did for a publication in the International Psychogeriatrics journal. I worked with a company called Research Square and together we designed a really engaging little 2 minute video summing up the science for a non-scientific audience. I got lots of lovely feedback on Twitter. I am also really proud of being awarded one of the Beacon Bursaries from the Public Engagement Unit to run an event with care home managers in Newham and early career UCL researchers to begin to set a research agenda – I hope the connections made through this event and the summary materials will help researchers develop research ideas with care home partners in the future.
Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do list?
Top of my to-do list is to design and plan the exciting new training opportunity for any Masters student at UCL who would like to do a collaborative dissertation with a community organisation. It’s wonderful to be working with colleagues in the Public Engagement Unit and also the Engineering Exchange on this.
What was your first job straight out of university?
Straight out of my undergraduate degree at the University of Glasgow, I was a lecturer at the Glasgow College of Nautical Studies! It was so random but it was an amazing year of teaching a really diverse range of students, including those excluded from school but required to be in formal education, and finding ways to engage everyone in a module on physiology and anatomy. On my first day, I actually dislocated my little finger playing basketball with my new colleagues over lunch and had to go to hospital in a taxi with the boss’ wife – not the best of starts!
What is your favourite and least favourite thing about London?
Favourite thing about London is the architecture – I smile every time I see St. Paul’s when I cycle over Waterloo Bridge to UCL, and I also love the totally different styles of housing you can find in just one street. My least favourite bit is how long it takes to get anywhere or how much of a struggle city life can be. It feels very full as a city these days!
Who would be your dream dinner guests?
Billy Connolly would be absolutely enough for me. Probably Miles Jupp. And definitely Chris Packham. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Michelle Obama and Annie Lennox too please!
What would it surprise people to know about you?
To be honest, I am such an open book that there’s very little that remains secret to surprise anyone with! Maybe that I actually planned to go to university to study English with French at Stirling University? Or probably that my dream is to open a B&B in the far north of Scotland, keep chickens and grow my own veg.