Dr Amber Griffiths, Founding Director, FoAM Kernow
I think it's a little odd that in academia people talk about 'academia' and 'industry' as if they are the only two options out there, and everything that isn't academia is industry.
Dr Amber Griffiths works at the interface between society, research, education and policy. As Founding Director of non-profit organisation FoAM Kernow, Amber draws on a wealth of experience to support open source/open access interdisciplinary research and education projects for the arts and sciences.
After graduating University College London (UCL) with a BSc Biology, Amber started her first job as editorial assistant at a science journal. Soon realising this wasn’t a long term career path, Amber returned to academia. Torn between the medical discipline and wildlife conservation, she completed an MRes in Animal Science and a PhD in Population Genetics.
Following her early career in research, Amber moved into the policy field. She began a placement at the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology and chaired the London Evolutionary Research Network. In a quest to regain research autonomy, Amber then secured a fellowship from the Academy of Finland and an EU Marie Curie fellowship to return to the UK.
With over ten years’ experience in biosciences and sustainability, Amber subsequently joined the University of Exeter as a Lecturer in the Natural Environment in 2013. But, stifled by academic metrics, publication targets and the barriers to interdisciplinary work, Amber hit a turning point and made the strategic decision to establish FoAM Kernow in 2015. Recalling her decision, she highlights “I thought setting up my own organisation would give me a chance to try to make some of the changes I wanted to see, without waiting another 20 years to be at the top rung of the academic ladder."
Reflecting on these experiences, Amber stresses that her academic career provided her with the practical skills to successfully establish her business, and that even some of her earliest job roles yielded valuable insights. With such a diverse blend of skills and experiences, Amber has been able to combine often siloed disciplines to create FoAM Kernow. She explains: “I think it's a little odd that in academia people talk about 'academia' and 'industry' as if they are the only two options out there, and everything that isn't academia is industry.”