Steering Group Members 

TechNet Steering Group Terms of Reference (ToR)


TechNet Co-Chairs


Abbie McGregor

Abbie is a Faculty IT and Business Relationship Manager in CiCS. She is responsible for managing the IT Support Staff in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and acting as liaison between CiCS and the business in all IT related matters.

Abbie started her career in the central administration of The University of Sheffield and left in 1998 to move to London. In London, she managed a small IT training consultancy before getting back into HE as the Desktop Support Team leader at London School of Economics. When she moved back to Sheffield in 2001 she worked in two secondary schools as the Network and Technical Team Manager before taking a career break to spend time with her two young children. Abbie had been back at the University of Sheffield since 2012 and has been in her current post since February 2017.


John-Paul Ashton (JP)

JP is a Technician in the Faculty of Science, Department of Biomedical Science. He has held various positions at the University of Sheffield from 2012, ranging from masters student to technical, teaching and administrative roles across three of the five faculties.

John-Paul is currently based half the week in the Sheffield Zebrafish Screening Unit in the Department of Biomedical Science. He is also part of the Management and Development Team for the GROW Programme; a cross University mentoring scheme. The other half of the week JP works with the Institute of Science & Technology, the professional body for technical staff both nationally and internationally. John-Paul has an 11 year background of working in the healthcare industry where he holds a leadership and operations role responsible for 20-40 healthcare professionals, including medical technicians.

Committee Members


Vanessa Singleton

Vanessa is Laboratory Manager for the Department of Materials Science & Engineering based in the Kroto Research Institute within the Faculty of Engineering.

Vanessa began her career at the University of Sheffield over 20 years ago as a trainee technician in what was then Respiratory Medicine. Throughout her time here she has supported various research activities and has been involved in numerous changes. She moved from her post in the Medical School in 2015 to take up a role as laboratory manager and departmental biosafety officer in Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering.


Lisa Hollands

Lisa is Technical Team Leader at the Foundry/Quarrell Laboratory within the Faculty of Engineering Department of Materials Science & Engineering.

Lisa studied for her degree in materials science specialising in glass technology at the University of Sheffield starting in 1989 and didn’t leave until after she had added a masters and PhD. Finally in 1997, she started to work at British Glass who had sponsored her PhD and worked mainly looking at glass melting problems for the glass industry. After 11 years supporting the glass industry she decided to try a career change and retrained as a primary school teacher. In 2012, a job as a teaching technician came up which was a fantastic opportunity that combined her love of materials science with teaching. In 2014, she was successfully promoted to become a senior technician supporting high temperature materials processing and was promoted again in 2015 to the team leader position.


Markus Ariaans

Mark is Lead Resource Technician in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health in the Department of Infection, Immunity & Cardiovascular Disease.

Mark joined the University in 2006 as a research technician in the Cardiovascular Research Unit (Northern General Hospital). Having survived several Faculty and Department restructures, he is currently one of the technical team leaders and looks after the technical resources in the Department of IICD. He is also the Departmental Safety and Biosafety Officer and is involved in various research projects with a focus on laboratory animal models.


Helen Wright

Helen is a Teaching Technician in the Faculty of Engineering, Department of Multidisciplinary Engineering Education.

Helen studied her degree in Biomedical Science at the University of Sheffield, before going into postgraduate research with the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in 2008. investigating the role of chemotactic cytokines in trigeminal neuropathic pain. After a brief break away from the University, Helen returned in 2015 as a trainee technician in the Faculty of Engineering and was placed with the University's new engineering teaching department, MEE. Within 6 months Helen had taken on responsibility for managing the Bioengineering Bacterial laboratory and she now teaches practical, lab-based skills to over 500 students a year across 12 different engineering streams from Foundation to Master's level.


Matthew Wyles

Matt is a Technician in SITraN (Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience), based in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health.

Matt studied Biology at the University of Sheffield and continued to do a Masters in plant genetics. After graduating Matt joined the Department of Neuroscience as a technician and has been there for 12 years. He has worked on various research projects in that time, ranging from gene therapy treatments, to laser capture microdissection and microarrays for gene expression analysis. Matt now looks after the next generation sequencing (NGS) facility based in the Sheffield Microarray and Next Generation Sequencing Core Facility.


Laura Mason

Laura is Workshop Manager for the Faculty of Social Science, School of Architecture, and Deputy Departmental Safety Officer.

Laura studied Design for Industry at the University of Northumbria, graduating in 2005 with 18 months work experience as a domestic product Design and Development Engineer and a Toy Designer. After graduating she moved to Dubai and began a career in Architectural Modelmaking working on hundreds of large scale projects and developments in the Middle East and beyond. In 2009 Laura moved to Canada and worked as an Architectural Model Maker/Prop Designer. Moving to Sheffield in 2012 Laura began work as a Senior Technician at Nottingham Trent University assisting Furniture, Product Design and Architecture students. In 2014 Laura moved to the University of Sheffield where she provides model making advice alongside training and supervision for the safe use of equipment and machinery.


Ben Palmer

Ben is a Controlled Environment Technician in the Faculty of Science, Department of Animal & Plant Sciences. He has held several positions in both the Faculties of Science and Engineering since starting work at the University in 2004.

After studying Ecology at the Unversity, Ben worked as a Research Technician on several different research projects in the spheres of plant physiology and ecology, before moving to the Department of Materials Science & Engineering. Here he worked as a Stores Technician followed by moving on to run the Materials Characterisation Small Research Facility. More recently, Ben has moved back to the Department of Animal & Plant Sciences to help run their world leading plant growth facility. Along with the Facilities Manager, Ben recently helped secure a significant £829k of funding to modernise parts of the facility. Ben has been keenly involved with both the Institute of Science & Technology and the Science Council for many years in promoting their Professional Registration schemes, as well as assessing RSci & RSciTech applications.


Luke Wild

Luke is an Audio Visual Technician based in CiCS. H has held various support roles within CiCS over the 7 years he has worked at the University.

With a background in sound engineering and events management that spans everything from small scale conferences to large scale festivals. Luke has a range of responsibilities in his role, which include; providing technical support for events, supporting and maintaining Learning and Teaching spaces, providing AV equipment across campus, video conferencing and much more...

Previous TechNet Members:

Many people have been involved and instrumental in the success of The University of Sheffield's Technicians Network (TechNet). The expertise, skills and time of each and every one of the current and previous members have contributed to its success. The network appreciates the work that these individuals have done and wishes them every success in their new endeavours.

TechNet was established in 2014 by Technical Managers; Natalie Kennerley and Melanie Hannah, at The University of Sheffield. The Technicians Network was a novel way for technicians, managers and support staff to discuss, collaborate & improve how they work.

natNatalie Kennerley is the co-founder and chairperson from 2014-2017. Natalie made a significant impact in the development and growth of the network. The events that took place across the University saw hundreds of University staff attending.

Natalie’s real passion is the promotion of technicians as highly skilled experts and it is thanks to Natalie and co-helpers that TechNet is a national technical networking group which supports technicians in higher education institutions. Natalie has moved on to Manchester Metropolitan University were she has set up their very own Technicians Network.

melMelanie Hannah is co-founder and was co-chair between 2014-2015. Melanie helped to set up the network with Natalie and assisted in the organisation of events to provide opportunities to extend staff knowledge of their workplace.

Melanie ensured the network engaged staff from all disciplines across the University and also helped to develop the network steering group.

lizzyLizzy Gifford joined the TechNet team as administrator and was pivotal to the organisation of the network; taking minutes at the meetings, providing essential marketing and publicity along with organising and budgeting events and developing the TechNet Newsletter.

Lizzy plays an important role working at the National Technician Development Centre (NTDC) and her skills will help technicians across the UK to improve their visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability.

KevinKevin Oxley has been co-chair alongside Natalie from 2015 and from 2017 became chair. Kevin developed TechNet further and provided the necessary activities and events, to meet the needs of technical staff throughout the University. Kevin also delivered some outstanding events himself, such as the 'Presenting ... the facts' event, which had over 100 technicians present. Kevin has now moved onto Hull University to take on his new role as Head of Technical Services, where he will be setting up their own Technicians Network.


Lynne Baxter is a Senior Research Technician in the Department of Neuroscience, Medical School and she manages the neuropathology laboratory section of the Department of Neuroscience and is responsible for all aspects of maintaining the service. Lynne has been a member of the Steering Group committee from 2015-2017 and played a vital role in making decisions for the event planning and organisation. Lynne has stepped down, but has put forward Matt Wyles to represent the Faculty of Science.