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Professor Helen Cooper

My research

The aim of our research is to develop novel approaches for the analysis of biomolecules, and in particular proteins, directly from their natural, or actual, environment, i.e., to develop approaches for in situ biomolecular analysis. To gain insight into the various and specific roles of proteins in life processes, it is necessary to be able to analyse proteins at a molecular level. The goal is to link molecular analysis directly to the molecular environment and we achieve this by mass spectrometry.

My journey

I have found academia a good career choice for combining with a family because of its flexibility. It has meant that I’ve never had to miss a sports day or class assembly. Having said that, academia does place demands in terms of travel. You have to attend and present your work at conferences and that raises childcare problems. I wouldn’t have been able to undertake this part of the role without the support of my husband, who is not in academia. I took full maternity leave after having both my children – no going back to work after two weeks! Other than the few months I worked part-time following the birth of my daughter, I have worked full-time. Both of my children were in nursery care until they went to school, and then attended the after-school club once at primary school.