My life as a Lecturer in Architectural Engineering by Dr Danielle Densley Tingley 

Grantham Supervisor Dr Danielle Densley TingleyLecturer in Architectural Engineering, took time out from her busy life to answer a few questions about life and work at the University of Sheffield for International Women’s Day. 

Glacier Hiking in Iceland – scary hearing first hand from the guide about the visibly receding glaciers year on year…

When it comes to diversity at the University, as a woman in what ways do you feel supported, and how might women at the University in general feel valued and encouraged overall?

My (slightly controversial) view is that everyone at the University should be supported equally – and it’s important we ensure this happens across the board, my being a woman is a little irrelevant in that respect. I have a great research group who I work with – and this is my day to day support. I also have a couple of mentors (one formally, one less officially) who I discuss progress/problems etc with – I find it really useful to discuss work challenges in this context, and learn from those who have more experience.

How would you explain your job to people not from your industry?

I research different methods to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our buildings and cities, and I teach the above as well as some more general sustainability principles to future civil and structural engineers.

How would you describe yourself in three words? 

Determined, independent, and thoughtful.

What outside interests do you have?

Travel – incredible landscapes and amazing wild animals have me hopping around the world (ideally after work trips to reduce my air miles), taekwon-do, yoga, photography, and I’m renovating my house – that takes up rather a lot of time.

Do you have a favourite quote?

Be the change you wish to see in the world – Gandhi

Why is it exciting working in your field?

The opportunity to make a difference. The built environment has a huge impact on global greenhouse gas emissions, the area I focus on, material use in construction, is often overlooked or the scale of impacts not appreciated. My research works on different methods to reduce the material demand of the built environment – from building design, to systems of materials in cities. In teaching I try to pass on these techniques to future Civil and Structural Engineers so they’re equipped to make a difference too.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I like the variation and independence – I get to decide what areas I think are important to research – then I just have to persuade someone to fund them!

What’s a big challenge for you right now? 

Juggling multiple priorities and demands for my time. As an academic I have what I consider to be the core parts of my role – research and teaching, within research in particular I have existing research projects to run, like the Urban Flows Observatory, but I’m also putting together funding proposals for new projects. This plus teaching, and various administrative tasks meaning I’m having to learn to be much better to saying no other extra tasks!

Have you had a logical career pathway?

Yes, very logical for an academic. Undergraduate degree, PhD, 3 x postdoc positions, then my lecturership.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?

Do what you enjoy – you spend 40 hours (plus) a week working, so you should spend this time doing something you enjoy or at least think is important.

Climbing Mount Kinabalu in Borneo, Malaysia – an amazing, if challenging experience…although it was the wild orangutans that I was lucky enough to see that stole my heart that trip!

What qualities might you be known for?

Err, my tenacity, and ability to get things done…(I think).

What’s something quite impressive about The University of Sheffield in terms of its culture?

There’s a very friendly, non-hierarchical working environment – at least in my research group/department – which makes the day to day more fun.

How long have you worked at The University of Sheffield?

As a Lecturer – coming up on two years, but including my time here studying,  just over ten years: 4 years as undergrad, another 3 doing my PhD, then just over a year as a postdoc. I then went to work at the University of Cambridge for just under two years as a postdoc, but couldn’t stay away from Sheffield, and came back for postdoc, which I was in for 8 months before getting my lectureship.