Do Something Great Banner

Professor Karen Petrie

Part of Women in STEM

Job Title: Associate Dean for Learning and Teaching, School of Science and Engineering, University of Dundee.
Area of Science: Computing.
Professor Karen Petrie - Women In STEM

Hi, so I'm Karen Petrie, I am the Associate Dean for Learning and Teaching within the School of Science and Engineering. That's a very grandiose title but all it really means is I look after the students and try and make sure that the best experience they can when they're at university.

So what do I research?

Well, I actually research how do we teach science and engineering and how do we do that in the most productive way so that people actually can learn anything they want to. I think this idea of how do we learn is really important and doing the science behind that is really important because we want to be able to teach the next generation. We want people to learn and we want people to learn the important facts for them.

What's a typical day like?

I don't have one, I'll be perfectly honest and thank goodness for that, because I think if I had a typical day it would really bore me and I love the fact that every single day is different in my job. So I might do some research, I might do some admin, I might talk to some students and find out things are going on. And of course, I teach, I spend a lot of my day teaching.

What do I like best and least about my job?

I love speaking to people, I love talking to students, finding out how things are going on, and I love trying to help them when they have problems and issues. That's what really what fires me up and makes me passionate. I also really quite enjoy doing the research side of things and learning a bit more about new ideas, new concepts and thinking those through is really important to me. So I enjoy that. What I don't like, I don't really enjoy paperwork. I am dyslexic and for all I've to certain degree overcome that and I can write text so forth now it's still a struggle. It's still something that takes me a long time to do. And so I don't enjoy that part of my role.

So my career journey so far, quite excitingly for me, at least in December, I became a professor that took 20 years from finishing my undergraduate degree. So I did my undergraduate degree in mathematics then I did a Ph.D. in artificial intelligence. And then I took a series of jobs as postdocs and researchers across the world. I was lucky enough to work in Ireland and California, in the USA. Then I eventually joined Dundee's about 10 years ago, worked my way through the ranks there for senior lecturer and now I'm a professor and a lot of that, I have to say, is just about putting the hours in. It's about learning as you go along and be prepared to put the hours in. And if you do the 99 percent perspiration, that one percent inspiration comes and you get they are just like Edison told us.

What subjects and qualifications are useful in my role?

Well, as a computer scientists computing is obviously really key as is mathematics. But actually, what's really important as well, there's some sort of creativity, you have to be a person who's going to be prepared to design this next next bit of software, to want to create something. I think that creativity is something that's really important. So don't forgo subjects like art in school, do them with the maths and the computing, and that is what will make you the best scientist. Thank you so much for your time today.

Professor Karen Petrie
Professor Karen Petrie Associate Dean for Learning and Teaching, School of Science and Engineering, University of Dundee

This page is part of the Women in STEM information.

If you have enjoyed these activities please share them with your friends and family.