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Women In Chemistry, Dr Deborah Longbottom

Dr Deborah Longbottom, Head of Graduate Education

An inspirational female Chemistry teacher at school fuelled Dr Deborah Longbottom’s interest in both science and teaching and encouraged her to study Chemistry at University.  While at Durham, Deborah also became interested in research and went on to complete her PhD in Cambridge, then moved as a postdoc to The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego to pursue further research into both organic synthesis and methodology.

However, she always had a special place in her heart for teaching and, following her initial return to Cambridge in 2004 as a Senior Research Associate in Professor Steve Ley’s group, she was successful in obtaining a joint Teaching Fellow position, split between the Department and Homerton College.  Subsequently, in recognition of her outstanding contribution to teaching within the University, she was nominated for and awarded the Pilkington Teaching Prize in 2012. 

While working in this dual role, Deborah had two children and recently had her third.  Deborah says: “The department and Homerton both offered a great deal of flexibility for me when I had my children, allowing me to perform the essential aspects of my job whilst providing support for or temporary relief from other duties.”  After the birth of her second son, Deborah was awarded a grant through the Returning Carers Scheme, which provides funding to support research careers following a career break or a period of leave for caring responsibilities.  “The grant allowed me to attend a conference in Chicago, and also covered the cost of a replacement supervisor for two terms so I could focus on research without having teaching responsibilities,” she says.

Deborah has most recently taken on a new full time Departmental role  as Head of Graduate Education, in which she is responsible for creating and developing graduate training and education for all our graduate students.