Jessica Williams

Country: United Kingdom
Sector: Higher Education
Job title: Postdoctoral Fellow
Subject of study: Biology and Animal Behaviour
Year of graduation: 2014
Type/Level of study: Undergraduate

Current Employer/Organisation Name

University College London

What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?

Since Exeter, I took a year out to travel and work on conservation projects abroad (in Costa Rica and Ecuador). I then completed a Masters in Conservation Science at Imperial College London. Following this, I did my PhD in Ecology and the Environment at University College London (UCL). I completed my PhD earlier this year (2021), and am now working as a postdoctoral fellow within the Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research at UCL.

Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?

I just followed what I enjoyed! I never thought I’d do a PhD, but during my Masters I found that I really enjoyed the research, exploring new questions and working on topics that no one else was. I still really enjoy the research side of my job, but I also enjoy the intellectual freedom (to explore avenues that you find interesting) and the physical freedom (as long as I have my laptop, I can work from anywhere).

What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?

To pursue a career in academia, you need to really enjoy your subject area. If you decide to do a PhD, for example, and dedicate 3-4 years of your life to it – you need to be really interested in your PhD topic. For a PhD, I would also say make sure you choose a good supervisor (talk to their other PhD students), and are surrounded by a good group of people. A PhD can be a lonely journey, so surrounding yourself by good friends and colleagues really helps. Also, keep talking and keep asking questions. Everyone finds a PhD tough, everyone has ups and downs (they will come), and many of the questions you’ll have, someone will have had before and know the answer or know how to help – so always speak up!


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