Professor Gina Rippon joined Aston University in 2000, as a Senior Lecturer in Psychology. She is now a Professor of Cognitive Neuroimaging - a role that she combines with her duties as Pro-Vice Chancellor (International).
I came to Aston in 2000 as a Senior Lecturer in Psychology. The year before, I had visited Aston to see the new whole-head Magnetoencephalography (M.E.G.) system - the first in the UK. I was really impressed, not only with the new technology, but also by the amazing team that was supporting the development and research. So when a post became available, I jumped at the chance.
I have quite a few, most based around working with the various teams that characterise Aston’s extremely helpful and supportive ethos. An early memory, shortly after starting at Aston, is of trying to help out an extremely nervous PhD student, anxious about her first conference presentation. I sent out a tentative email to colleagues asking if they could form an 'audience' for her one lunchtime to give her a chance to practise. When I turned up I found that more than a dozen people had cheerfully given up their lunchtime and gave some really helpful advice.
I like to think I made a difference to the Psychology group both in terms of infrastructure and personnel. We desperately needed some new labs when I arrived and the then Programme Director [Ros Hill] and I started a campaign for the University to find us some new space. This was eventually successful, in the face of what was inevitably described as our relentless 'handbagging'. I was also a (very small) part in the process that resulted in the establishment of the Aston Brain Centre, an amazing facility with the full range of cutting-edge brain imaging techniques. And I'm quite proud of being nominated as 'Lady Geek of the Week' in the media after a lecture I gave on brain imaging at the British Science Festival when it was held at Aston!
The opportunity to have access to the full range of brain imaging techniques has been the most important, in terms of my research activities. But, again, working in a collegiate environment where there is a genuine commitment to teamwork and support has helped me tremendously at many levels, personally and professionally.
For current students, I would say "seize the day". A university education is not just about passing exams but a chance to experience a great range of activities, people, places, cultures. Make sure you pack it all in while you can. For those who have their degree, keep your options open - follow every opportunity to find out what you are good at, what you enjoy, what chances there are out there. Never think there is anything you can't do - you'll find a way somehow.
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