Professor of GENETICS
University of Kent
Where do you work?
University of Kent, School of Biosciences.
How would you describe your job/role.
As Professor of Genetics, I am required to run a programme of scientific research. This involves raising research money, publishing novel findings in scientific journals, making the research publicly accessible (e.g. through public talks and in the media). I also teach students (principally I run an MSc course in in Reproductive Medicine: Science and Ethics).
How long you have performed the role?
I’ve been an academic since 1998. I joined Kent as a “Reader” in 2004 and was promoted to Professor in 2007.
Why did you want to work at the University of Kent?
Mostly work-life balance and the opportunity to “bring genetics” to a beautiful town.
What educational qualifications do people need to perform your role?
OK, take a deep breath. A Bachelor degree, a PhD degree, a postgraduate certificate of higher education. A world-leading, sustained track record of novel research, proven ability to raise research money from a range of sources. In addition (although this is not a requirement per se), I have a Doctor of Science (DSc) degree and am an elected Fellow of 3 learned societies
What practical experience do people need to help them to obtain your role?
You sort of learn on the job and make it up as you go along. You have to be a very persuasive writer if people are going to give you money and publish your papers
Are there any particular personal skills which people need to have to perform your role?
Darren’s 10 Commandments of being a successful scientist
The only way to do good research is to get on with it
When opportunity knocks, open the door
Team build: With good people you can do anything
It’s not about your knowledge. It’s about imagination and ideas
Always bring something to the party
It’s not the size of your gun, it’s when you shoot
If the system doesn’t work for you, change it, do something else or don’t complain
Don’t ask why - Ask why not
The journey Is usually far more rewarding than the destination
Be nice to people
What do you enjoy about your work?
I discover something new every day, I manage my own day and I head a great team of people.
What can be challenging about your work?
Over burdensome administration and difficult people
What is your fondest memory?
At graduation, a mother of one of my PhD students leaned over to me and said “thank you for turning my son into a human being.” I still have a lump in my throat thinking about it.
Do you have any personal advice?
Follow the 10 commandments and you won’t go far wrong. Here are another 10 I worked in recently
1. Life has no “meaning” per se (you can waste a lot of time looking for it)
2. Don’t seek happiness (seek to give happiness to others)
4. Always test your own opinions
5. Arts and Science are not mutually exclusive
6. Refine your senses
7. Be a teacher
8. It’s not “down to your genes” but your choices
9. Always try to turn a negative into a positive
10. Don’t try to stop the world from turning
Darren's lab does accept applications for work experience. Please contact Darren at the University of Kent if you are a budding scientist.