Dr Nia White

Head of Research and the Graduate School


Overview of Current Position and Main Responsibilities

I am Head of Research and the new pan-University Graduate School (launched in September 2014) and was previously Head of the School of Science, Engineering & Technology at Abertay University. The Graduate School is an essential component of our new R-LINCS (Research-Led Innovation Nodes for Contemporary Society) Research and Knowledge Exchange Strategy, to grow our RKE capacity and research excellence.

What was your career path to this position and subject area?

I graduate from University College Cardiff in 1987 with a BSc Hons in Microbiology and became an environmental microbiologist, or more specifically a mycologist, after one of lecturers encouraged me to undertake a PhD in mycology at the University of Wales College of Cardiff, which I completed in 1992.  My research - mostly focusing on Serpula lacrymans (the dry-rot fungus), wood and soil fungi – has given me a very interesting career; for example, I was part of the first group to confirm the identity and wild origins of the dry-rot fungus after several expeditions to the Indian Himalayas.

Do you feel you have a good work/life balance?

No, I don’t seem to have conquered this yet!

Who has inspired your career?

Academically I still think this is my PhD supervisor Prof Lynne Boddy, Cardiff University – an excellent scientist and ecologist, grounded, open, incredibly hard working, good-fun and always keen to give back and nurture the next generation of scientists – a really decent human being. Personally, I’m impressed by some of the incredibly brave and skilled female role models we see today – women who strive to make a difference by improving the human rights of the underprivileged or oppressed, no matter the danger or odds. One such woman is the BBC Chief International Correspondent Lyse Doucet. I’m simply blown-away by her unwavering courage, tenacity and grace.  Of course I must also pay tribute to our pioneers, women like Millicent Fawcett, Marie-Curie and Rosalind Franklin.

What career advice would your younger self have found helpful?

Put yourself forward and don’t be shy about taking risks and opportunities as they arise. Be confident in your abilities, don’t allow yourself to be intimidated, help others and fight that inner imposter syndrome!