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Academic wins research grant – and says it’s all thanks to Aurora women’s leadership programme

27 Jun 2023 | Ulster University linguistics lecturer Juliana Gerard explains how participation in the Advance HE programme gave her a real career boost.

When she applied to go on the Aurora women’s leadership programme, Dr Juliana Gerard had two goals.


Firstly, she wanted to improve her communications skills. Secondly, she wanted to build her network.  And by achieving these, she hoped to develop collaborations with support from research grants.


“The ability to secure grants to support research work is key to career progression within academia,” she said. “That’s why I jumped at the chance of taking part in Aurora.”


Her faith in what the programme could deliver proved to be well-founded and on its final day she got an email confirming she had won a £9,000 grant to improve engagement among volunteer families taking part into her research into children’s language use.


With that success now under her belt, she has now also applied for a far larger grant which would fund a new project in collaboration with an international team of researchers in the UK, US and Europe.


 “The key for me was getting my own Aurora mentor,” said Juliana.

“I chose a senior lecturer working within another discipline within the university because she draws on a very similar pool of research participants as I do.


“She’s been invaluable in helping me develop my networks so I can reach the groups and types of people I need to engage in my research.


“Career progression within higher education involves so much more than being an expert in your field. It’s about having the communication skills and confidence to drive forward big projects. By nature, I’m an introvert but Aurora has made it easier for me to get my message across and to develop an ‘elevator pitch’ which is vital in helping to get people on board with my work.”

Aurora is part of our new Developing Leadership in Higher Education programme and event portforlio for 2023/24. It provides a range of opportunities supporting the professional development of new and existing members. Members benefit from a 25% discount on booking prices and there is an additional 10% early booking discount for bookings made before 30 September 2023 on selected programmes and events.

We feel it is important for voices to be heard to stimulate debate and share good practice. Blogs on our website are the views of the author and don’t necessarily represent those of Advance HE.

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