The IST Announces 5 New Fellows

The IST were delighted to announce 5 new Fellowship awards at our recent IST Conference.

The awarded Fellows: Julia Barkans, Simon Breeden,  Jan Brett,  Gillian Riddell and Melissa Sterry, are outstanding individuals who are not only making significant contributions to their workplaces but also to the wider technical community, and we look forward to working more closely with them in the future.

Julia BarkansJulia Barkans

Julia Barkans started her career as a Medical Laboratory Scientific Officer, specialising first in histology and later in immunology. This provided excellent training for her to apply and gain a research post in immunology at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School in London.

Julia was then invited to join a group in the Department of Allergy and Clinical Immunology at the National Heart and Lung Institute (NHLI), Imperial College, initially to develop a panel of antibodies to the eosinophil. Subsequently she supported multiple research programmes as a member of the Health and Safety Management team, eventually taking on the role of Laboratory Manager.

Julia joined the Biomedical Research Network at the Open University in 2007 as a Laboratory Manager, and In 2015 was appointed to the role of Senior Laboratory Manager to manage the entire Science Faculties laboratory infrastructure. She is managing the overall budget, overseeing the all-important Health and Safety and supporting the technical team.

The Open University is a founding member of the Technician Commitment, and is an advocate of Professional Registration as a benchmark of technical skills and CPD. Julia attained Chartered Status with the Science Council/IST.

Simon Breeden

Simon Breeden has worked in universities in the UK and Ireland for over 25 years since graduating with a PhD from the University of Manchester (UMIST as it was then).  In his early scientific career he worked on developing anti-cancer drugs (Manchester), treatments for opiate abuse and analgesia, (University of Bristol), catalytic asymmetric synthesis (University of Warwick) and he also ran a successful independent research group at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

Simon started at the University of York in 2004 as a Senior Research Fellow in the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence and transitioned to the role of Departmental Operations Manager in Chemistry in 2012. In this role he was responsible for all technical services within the department through leading the team of around 60 technicians.

May 2021 Simon was appointed as Head of Technical Services at the University of York where, with the superb support of a truly excellent team of Technical Operations Managers, he has responsibility for technical services in all academic departments delivered by an exceptional team of well over 200 technicians.  Simon is a passionate supporter of technicians both within and outside of the University of York empowering the teams he works with to deliver excellent technical support and develop skills through continuing professional development.

Simon was seconded to the Technician Commitment/Science Council in May 2020 as Associate Lead of the Technician Commitment. He is a passionate advocate for networking and engaging with colleagues at all levels of an organisation, believing that the most effective way to learn is from understanding other’s successes and, often his own, failures.

Jan Brett
Jan Brett has worked in technical services for more than 25 years.

Jan has an M.Sc. in Molecular Genetics, a B.Sc. (Hons) in Biomedical Technology and is a registered Chartered Scientist. She currently works in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at The University of Liverpool, as the Technical Development and Planning officer and has been in post since July 2020. Prior to this, she was a technical team leader for over 13 years.

Jan works to enable all our technicians to develop their skills, have equal access to development opportunities and assist the Technical Managers in her faculty in all aspects of technical workforce planning.  She sits on the university’s Technician Commitment steering group and is chair of the Liverpool University Technical Network.

Gillian Riddell

Gillian Riddell is the newly appointed Technician Commitment Manager at Queen’s University Belfast. She graduated from the University of Dundee in 1994 with a BSc in Environmental Biology and Ecology, and upon returning to Northern Ireland, took up a position as Trainee Environmental Consultant with Belfast-based MarEnCo.

Gillian soon returned to Higher Education taking a post in Queen’s University as a Research Technician in Animal Behaviour and Ecology. Since 1999, and until recently, Gillian has been a permanent technician in Ecosystem Biology and Sustainability, in the School of Biological Sciences, responsible for managing research laboratories and organising and teaching on residential undergraduate field courses.

When Queen’s University became a signatory to the Technician Commitment in 2017, Gillian took on the role of Institutional Technical Lead, striving to embed the pillars of the Technician Commitment into the culture of the university.

Melissa Sterry 

Melissa Sterry primarily works with projects that chart unprecedented conceptual, creative, and commercial potentialities emerging at the interface of science, technology, and design.

Specialising in futures in the built environment, design, manufacturing, engineering, utilities, publishing, media and communications, Melissa is one of the world’s most high profile futurists, contributing to both private and public sector clients globally.

Melissa is the founder/director of Bionic City, which explores the potential of biomimetics, biotechnology and biology in the built environment in the now, near, and far future. Developing original research, concepts and creative works, Bionic City has attracted a global community of interest and collaborators worldwide, together with over 3,000,000 online shares of its magazine content.

Recognised as a leading-authority on the science, technology and thinking that could help build a better future, Melissa has been championing environmental issues since childhood. Melissa has contributed as keynote speaker, panellist and panel chair at over 100 leading public conferences, seminars, festivals, and awards ceremonies.

Peer recognition of the value of Melissa’s works and work ethics include several national and international innovation, creativity and enterprise awards, most notably the Mensa Education and Research Foundation International Award for enhancing intelligence that benefits society; ’Forty over 40’ honouree; inclusion in the ‘Libertine 100’ women with complex, beautiful and potentially world-changing ideas; and Global Women Inventors and Innovators Network special recognition award-winner twice-over, and Hall of Fame inductee.