Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine is celebrating the vital role of technicians in delivering world-class health research.
Earlier this week, LSTM held a celebration social event for technicians, and shared appreciation cards with supportive messages from colleagues for the skill and dedication of technicians in enabling LSTM to conduct research and further its mission to improve global health. Information was also provided on the Prosper initiative and other training and development opportunities.
LSTM is signatory to the Technician Commitment, a university and research institution initiative, led by a steering group of sector bodies, with support from the Science Council and the Technicians Make It Happen campaign. The Commitment aims to ensure visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability for technicians working in higher education and research, across all disciplines.
Professor Hilary Ranson, Dean of Research Culture & Integrity, said: “The expertise and dedication of our research technicians is pivotal to so much of LSTM’s work and we are truly grateful for all their varied contributions. Whether maintaining the herpetarium and extracting snake venom, rearing mosquitoes or tsetse flies and testing out new control tools, evaluating diagnostics, analysing samples from vaccine trials or working with international partners in surveillance programmes, technicians bring specialist knowledge and insights and oversee the rigour necessary to maintain our accreditations with various regulatory authorities.
“Importantly they act as key members of research teams, often the first to suggest improvements to processes, and acting as ambassadors for LSTM whether in welcoming and training new starters and visitors or participating in community engagement events.
“Our communal laboratory space, and collaborative approach to research, provides opportunities for LSTM technicians to acquire new skills and make new contacts, with training in other transferable skills being provided by our comprehensive LSTM learns programme. As the Technician Commitment to which LSTM are signatories states: Technicians Make It Happen!”
Kyle Walker has worked as a technician at LSTM for six years, firstly in LITE before moving to Vector Biology. His main research focus is the insecticide quantification of various vector control tools, enabling support of field trials with quantitative data on the products they are using and giving insight into the overall efficacy of the interventions they are trialling. His team also supports polymer chemists and net manufacturers, acting as quality control during the production of new net products containing novel insecticides.
He said: “Technicians at LSTM are vital to our research output and working culture as an institution. During my time at LSTM there has definitely been an improvement in opportunities and recognition for technicians, predominantly pushed for by technicians themselves, with support from senior management growing too. Hopefully this continues into the future.”
Emma Reid joined LSTM in 2019 as a research technician after working in the food testing industry testing for allergens. Initially working on the impact of IRS in India with Rinki Deb and Mike Coleman, in 2020 she started a new project working on the efficacy of PBO bed nets in the DRC with Dave Weetman, while working on her the PhD part time whilst continuing as a technician.
She said: “Working as a technician at LSTM has given me the opportunity to learn lots of new techniques within the lab, I have improved my scientific writing and I have been able to present at conferences. LSTM and particularly my supervisors Dave and Janet, have helped kick start my career in research, enabled me to improve my skills and supported me in my goals to achieve my PhD.”