Life as a Lecturer in Scotland
Q & A with Petya Eckler of Strathclyde University
Q - When did you decide to become a lecturer?
After completing my masters in journalism at the Missouri School of Journalism in the United States, I began working as a health reporter for a website on arthritis and after doing that for a while, and greatly enjoying it, I found myself wondering what else I could do within my new found passion for health. I was reporting daily on a lot of great research, but I found myself wanting to partake in the actual creation of new knowledge, not just to be talking about it to my readers. So, I went back to school and earned a doctoral degree in health communication at Missouri and afterwards I got my first job as a lecturer.
Q- How long have you been a lecturer for?
For 5 years: three of those as an assistant professor (the American version of a lecturer) at the University of Iowa and I am now starting my third year at University of Strathclyde.
Q -What are the areas of lecturing which you find very satisfying?
Life as an academic presents various demands. We’re expected to teach our students, of course, and this is probably the most obvious part of the job. But we’re also expected to conduct research and publish it, which often involves applying for grants to sponsor that research. Then we participate in lots of administrative tasks, which relate to daily life at the university. And last but not least, we are encouraged to connect with people outside of the university through activities and initiatives, which share our expertise with the larger public, with journalists, policy makers, businesses and others.
So, to answer the question, what I like most about all this is the diversity and the fact that I can switch between activities and recharge. I also very much appreciate the freedom to design my own path and to follow my own interests.
Q- How long is your working day?
I am not a 9-to-5 type of person, so I tend to start work later in the day but also finish much later than most. Typically I’ll be working on my sofa and watching the news well into the night.
Q- Has the technology and social media made your job easier for research etc.?
Technology has definitely changed a lot of how we do things. Most of my interpersonal communication with colleagues and students has moved onto email, so some days I would do nothing else but just respond to emails and write some myself and before you know it, you’ve spent 7-8 hours doing that. Social media, on the other hand, has made it easier to keep track of various news and also to stay connected to colleagues from around the world, which I really appreciate. I love skype and I do a lot of my research meetings with colleagues in America in this way. I’ve also organised lectures with international colleagues via Skype and it’s worked out perfectly. I study social media and its effects on people’s health and so in this respect, recent technological developments have been really interesting to me.