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Valerie West

Valerie West, Research Manager, Department of Psychiatry. Valerie works with the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry team, the NEUROSEC team and the Associate Head of Department for Research on grant submissions from across the entire department. She is also the Open Access Monitor for the department and the administrative coordinator for our Unit in the REF (UoA4, Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience). 

Tell us a little about yourself, and what attracted you to studying/working at the University of Oxford?  

I started working in Oxford in Research Ethics at the John Radcliffe hospital. I’ve always had an interest in ethics and worked on ethics committees previously at Imperial College (both human and animal), for several years. My undergraduate degree, History and Philosophy of Science at UCL was relevant also, in that we examined the regulation of science, and in particular my dissertation was on the role of lay members on ethics committees. 

Although convenience and life’s circumstances brought me to Oxford, I love working here and in particular am inspired by the range and quality of the academic work undertaken. 

What is your vision for the team/project/research you study/work with?

I would like to grow the pre- and post-award support within the department to help investigators plan and manage their grants effectively. In particular, to offer support to early career researchers, who may be navigating funding applications and awards for the first time. 

What is currently at the top of your To-Do List?

Creating slides for an Advisory Board on the Ethics Accelerator project I work on with Professor Ilina Singh in the NEUROSEC team. This project was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council as part of UKRI’s COVID-19 funding, and aims to harness and mobilise the UK’ s internationally renowned expertise in ethics research, bringing it to bear on the multiple, complex ethical challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

I’m also currently evaluating the effectiveness of the recently launched Grants Surgery and plan to improve the service we offer through that.

How did you get to where you are today?

I did my undergraduate degree in the History and Philosophy of Science, and went on to work in administration in a cardiac research department at Imperial. I’ve always worked in medical science administration, and have been with the department for 17 years now. Over this time, I have managed many grants right through from conceptual phase, to submission, post-award and closure. I’ve been involved in all aspects of grants from budgets, to project management to conducting experiments. I’ve broadened my role in the past few years to bring the strengths I have in pre-award grant proposal preparation to the wider department in a research facilitation role, which I am really enjoying. I administratively coordinate the Research Excellence Framework (REF) submission for Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (UoA4). 

Who or what inspires you?

I have seen over many years working in the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry team with Professor Alan that even when children are faced with extreme adversity, they can still thrive. That inspires me. 

If you were not in your study programme/job currently, what would you like to be doing?

I would like to perhaps dip my toe into working more directly with the Medical Sciences Division at some point in the future, but I am actually really happy where I am!