Dr Kirsty Liddiard
Research Fellow, School of Education and Institute for the Study of the Human (iHuman)
Area of research:
Currently, I'm co-leading an ESRC grant entitled Living Life to the Fullest: Life, Death, Disability and the Human which, through the arts, seeks to forge new understandings of the lives, hopes, desires and contributions of children and young people with what are categorised as ‘life-limiting’ or ‘life-threatening’ impairments.
Why did you choose the University of Sheffield and what do you enjoy about Sheffield?
I moved to the University in 2014 from my first postdoctoral position at the School of Disability Studies, Toronto, Canada. I was attracted by the University's vibrant research culture and the School of Education’s Transforming Disability research agenda. The post gave me considerable autonomy, which has enabled me to explore a range of areas that interest me for which I’ve been able to put in multiple bids with colleagues inside and outside of the University.
Alongside colleagues from Education and Sociological Studies, I have been involved in building an exciting transdisciplinary research institute in iHuman and have made great use of the Faculty’s public engagement and impact funding to develop a number of projects.
Excitingly, I am now working across projects funded by ESRC, AHRC and the Wellcome Trust. This post has given me the support to get published, I’ve got an edited collection and my first monograph coming out before the end of the year.
What are the challenges and opportunities of being postdoctoral researcher?
For early career researchers (ECR) there can be significant challenges. Posts are often fixed term and can be short-term. We need to find ways to support ECRs and draw attention to the marked precarity of this period of an academic career. As part of the Faculty of Social Science's Equality and Diversity Committee, with colleagues we have recently established a vibrant Early Career Researcher Forum, which will give voice to ECRs and the challenges they face. Hopefully this will help to start conversations between ERCs and the Faculty and University.
What are your ambitions for the future?
To keep doing high quality, co-production research with marginalised people and stakeholders. As an avid public sociologist and activist scholar, I view the effective, ethical and accessible communication of knowledge as a form of social and political justice. As such, I always try to work within the communities I research and always bring new knowledge to non-academic audiences as well as to key stakeholders. This ensures that research findings have a wider impact – they ‘exist’ in real life and are referred to, read by, and transferred to the everyday lives of people. In short, I want to keep doing this work!