Last month we were delighted to welcome a new team member on board! Dr Alison McLeod joined the Technology Scotland team as our Senior Programme Manager for our Photonics network, Photonics Scotland. Now that Alison has had some time to settle in, we thought it would be the perfect time for our Technology Scotland community to get to know Alison a little bit better.

Can you tell us about yourself and your career prior to joining Technology Scotland?

Scotland has always been like a second home to me, and I came across from Northern Ireland to go to university in St. Andrews as an undergraduate.  St. Andrews became my home for the next 10 years, completing my under- and post-graduate degrees there, specialising in photonics, in particular continuous-wave, intracavity singly-resonant optical parametric oscillators based upon Nd-doped laser gain media for my PhD. After this I worked as a Research Associate in the Organic Semiconductor Centre before leaving academia and joining industry in the role of applications engineer/account manager in the health physics sector with Laboratory Impex Systems Ltd., and then the photonics sector with Laser Quantum Ltd. The latter of these positions required me to move away, but the call of Scotland was too strong, so I returned north of the border, joining Kite Innovation (Europe) Ltd. and subsequently Modus Research and Innovation Ltd. in a role dedicated to research project management and proposal writing for EU funded projects, gaining extensive experience across a wide variety of research topics.

What do you hope to achieve at Technology Scotland?

I hope to support Scotland’s photonics sector to maintain and build upon its world renowned reputation, helping to identify and hopefully overcome challenges within the sector by providing a high value service to our current and future members. I’ll have a great sense of achievement if I can help companies to progress and grow.

I was well aware of the photonics industry in Scotland, but I have to admit that I did not appreciate the overall figures.  To be part of the vision that has been developed to treble the size of the sector in Scotland within the next decade is a very exciting challenge I am extremely happy to be part of.

What are the aspects of the role that you’re looking forward to getting stuck into?

I am particularly looking forward to meeting and learning more about our members, building strong working relationships with all the stakeholders, providing help and support wherever I can.  We tend to be quite a sociable bunch, so being able to organise some dedicated photonics face-to-face events once we are allowed to get together again will be great.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I love getting outdoors, especially walking, and try to get at least 3 miles clocked up every day, which can be challenging in the Perthshire weather.  To date I have completed 6 marathon length walks to raise money for charity raising over £3k for Breast Cancer Research, Maggie’s Dundee and JDRF, charities which are all close to my heart.

Live music is a large part of my life, with my taste varying across a wide range of genres.

I also enjoy cooking, particularly for family and friends and regularly experiment on them with new recipes. Thankfully there have been no disasters…yet!