UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy


STEaPP Spotlight on...Dr Rakhshi Memon

Dr Rakhshi Memon is a Research Fellow within the Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP) at UCL.

Headshot of Dr Rakhshi Memon with pink and blue border
How long have you been at STEaPP? What does your role involve?

I have been at STEaPP for approximately 11 months now. My position as a Research Fellow within STEaPP, sits within the Burns Rehabilitation Research Programme in Pakistan. I lead on the Theory of Change using the Freirean approach to engage stakeholders and for planning, monitoring, evaluation, and impact assessment.

What drew you to STEaPP and UCL?

I did my PhD in STS at UCL, and my supervisor was Professor Sarah Edwards, who moved to STEaPP. I have been involved in global mental health research in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LAMIC) for several years and Professor Edwards and I have worked together on a number of LAMIC research trials; she is also a co-investigator on this current trial. So, by good fortune, I landed in STEaPP. I love it here and everyone is very welcoming. I am finding the diversity of projects very interesting and discussions with colleagues on the vast array of subjects very stimulating. I would like to introduce the Theory of Change approach to colleagues in STEaPP.

How does your research feed into your teaching (and vice versa)?

Research findings are incorporated into teaching materials etc for knowledge dissemination. Sometimes classroom discussions bring about unanswered questions which inspire research. Only recently, during a discussion on women empowerment with visiting PhD scholars from Pakistan, one of the students mentioned how once a woman in Pakistan becomes a grandmother albeit in her late forties, cultural pressures and society expects her to become ‘redundant and non-productive’. Interdisciplinary research and teaching provide opportunities for diverse groups to come together. Involving students provides them with an excellent opportunity to gain practical experience and contribute to research.

What inspires you?

Seeing mentees and students develop and grow gives me great job satisfaction.

What achievements are you most proud of?

In the academic field, gaining my PhD as a mature student is something I am very proud of. Although, the journey at times was arduous and lonely. I also found the luxury of being a full-time student quite invigorating. Having had a very long and successful career in NHS management, I am also proud of being able to adapt my manager’s mindset into an academic and a researcher with ease.

Who influenced you?

My parents were great advocates of lifelong learning, and my brother encouraged me to enrol onto a PhD programme. I attended Professor Edwards research governance workshop at UCL who encouraged me to apply for PhD at UCL.

If you could give one piece of advice to your teenage self, what would it be?

Have self-belief and follow your dreams.

What piece of advice would you like to give to a student?

Stay focussed but don’t be too hard on yourself. Keep a good work/life balance. Learning does not happen just in classrooms, life experiences are also part of learning such as building confidence, becoming resilient and developing strength of character.

What three words would you use to describe STEaPP?

Inclusive, innovative, interdisciplinary.