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A series of conversations with distinguished academics hosted by Professor Dame Athene Donald.
What do academics actually do? What motivates them to get out of bed each morning and to deliver what is — or in many cases what isn't — expected of them?
For a student setting out, the life of senior academics may seem very mysterious, particularly as many may end up taking on responsibilities and activities far removed from where an individual started. The trajectory from student to senior academic is rarely a straight line, with twists, setbacks, timeout and/or opportunities (taken or declined) all to be combined with a personal life.
This series of conversations aims to explore the individual paths of some eminent academics who have made it to the top in their own particular ways. How have they found their own solutions to 'life', what tips do they wish they'd been given earlier on, and what might they view, retrospectively, with most pleasure or regret?
The next in this series of conversations will be with Professor Dame Janet Thornton — a Vice President of the European Research Council and Former Director of the European Bioinformatics Institute.
Following in Mike Ashburner's footsteps at the Genome Campus at Hinxton, Janet Thornton became Director of the European Bioinformatics Institute, which is part of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, in 2001. She is a pioneer of structural bioinformatics, using computational methods to understand protein structure and form. Her use of computer techniques to facilitate the organisation and analysis of biological data and to predict biological patterns and processes has been fundamental to the creation of the new science of bioinformatics. She remained Director until 2015, overseeing a major growth in the institute and a huge increase in the importance of bioinformatics and data resources in the life sciences. In 2015 Janet stepped down as Director to return to leading a small research group at EMBL-EBI and is a Vice President of the European Research Council. Janet Thornton was the first female Fellow of Churchill to hold a Fellowship of the Royal Society.