Skip to main content

All events

Careers in Social Sciences and Policy (Career Exploration Month)

This panel discussion will highlight some career options for postdocs and PhDs in the public sector or non-governmental organisations, by focusing on policy-related roles in the health-, social- and environmental-sciences.

Past Event

June 8, 2022
12:30 - 14:00


It is well known that the majority of postdocs and PhDs eventually build a successful career beyond academia and university research. Which sectors and roles they go into can however be difficult to grasp. The panel discussions of Career Exploration Month (see list of events below) aim at showcasing some of the possible career options for individuals with a research background, by hearing directly from former postdocs and PhD about their own careers.

This panel will feature Dr Bethany Waterhouse-Bradley, Programme Manager (PEACEPLUS) at Special EU Programmes Body, Dr Claire McCartan, Senior Researcher at the Northern Health & Social Care Trust, and Dr Jade Berman, Coastal advisor at National Trust.

The panellists will notably talk about their current role, how they managed the transition from academia, which skills and expertise they use from their research background, the advantages and challenges of their position, as well as advice for current postdocs and PhDs interested in similar roles.

The panel will be chaired by Dr Ben McAteer, postdoctoral researcher in the School of Natural and Built Environment at Queen's.


ALL WELCOME! This event isn't limited to postdocs and is open to anyone who is interested in attending, including those external to Queen's University Belfast.

This event will be a panel discussion. The Chair will ask prepared questions but also relate questions shared by the audience in the event’s chat.

This event won’t use slides and thus will be suitable for people using audio only (e.g. listening while having a walk etc.). Auto generated captions will be enabled for accessibility.

Our Guests

Dr Bethany Waterhouse-Bradley

Programme Manager – PEACEPLUS at Special EU Programmes Body (See Bethany’s LinkedIn profile)

Bethany began her career in direct support provision, working with a range of groups in Washington, DC including sex-workers, unhoused people, and people in mental health crisis. When she moved to Belfast in 2003, she worked in hostels for unhoused people with high support needs and volunteered with a charity for refugees and asylum seekers. Alongside this work, Bethany completed a degree in Social Policy and a PhD exploring the role of the voluntary and community sector in representing migrant and minoritised communities in policy-making. At the end of her doctorate, she began working at the Northern Ireland Strategic Migration Partnership, where she supported local and national policy teams to translate migration policy for local level implementation. Bethany moved back into academia to work as a research associate for the Bamford Centre for Mental Health Research at Ulster University before moving on to a Project Coordinator Role, overseeing several related projects in the School of Psychology under Professor Cherie Armour. In 2018, she was hired as a lecturer in Health and Social Care Policy at UU, and spent the next four years developing research that examined a variety of barriers to representative policy making. She conducted work on dementia and trauma policy, and was a Research Fellow in the Digital Economy Crucible Programme at Swansea University, where she began work on the dangers of automated decision-making in the public sector. In 2022, Bethany left academia and took up a post as a Programme Manager for the PEACEPLUS Programme at the Special EU Programmes Body. In her current role, she manages a range of funding portfolios and liaises with the European Commission, ROI and NI executives to ensure that funding distribution is in line with national priorities, and work with community groups to align the Programme with community need.

Dr Claire McCartan

Senior Researcher, employed by the Northern Health & Social Care Trust in a regional research role

Claire worked as a Research Assistant for many years in the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work at Queen’s. She was awarded her PhD by Published Works (Social Work) in 2019, leading to the regrading of her post as Research Fellow immediately after the award. She then progressed to a Senior Research Fellow role with the support of her line manager and School. Claire had worked on a variety of social work related research, including being Principal Investigator on a number of grants. After 18.5 years at Queen’s, she decided that she could no longer manage the uncertainty and precarity of a fixed-termed contract and applied for two Senior Researcher posts with the newly established mental health managed care networks based in the Impact Research Centre, a mental health research centre hosted within the Northern Health & Social Care Trust. Claire works as the research lead for the Regional Trauma Network, a specialist psychological trauma service for victims and survivors of the Troubles in NI and her role is to increase research capacity across the 80+ HSC staff based in all five Trusts and our community and voluntary sector partners in the victims/survivors network. It is an extremely varied role working with a range of health and care professionals, supporting real service user needs, but also opportunities to develop our expertise and understanding as a world-leading trauma service. She also still works closely with her academic colleagues, collaborates on research and publishes. Claire also has very close connections with policy makers and has provided a range of research specialist support to the Department of Health, Strategic Planning and Performance Group and The Executive Office, and contributes to policy advice and development around the implementation of the Mental Health Strategy.

Dr Jade Berman

Coastal advisor at National Trust

Jade joined the National Trust as Coastal Advisor in January 2023. National Trust owns about 22% of the coast of Northern Ireland so it is an opportunity to work (in partnership with others) to advise on how we can manage our coast in a changing climate and also how to connect people to the coast and sea.  On the side, she is the Chair of Our World Underwater Scholarship Society (Europe), which is a charity supporting potential underwater ambassadors gain experience in a range of related careers.

She has worked in the NGO sector in Northern Ireland for the past twelve years in a range of roles relating to Environmental and Climate Policy, and Marine Conservation. She has almost 20 years of international experience as a marine biologist, scientific diver, lecturer, and conservation manager, and has worked in many places including Antarctica, New Zealand, Panama and the UK. Jade has a PhD in marine biology on the spatial and temporal variability of sponge assemblages (Victoria University, Wellington New Zealand) and an MSc in Marine Resource Development and Protection (Heriot-Watt University, Scotland).

Other events

This event is part of ‘Career Exploration Month’ in June 2023, during which the PDC will provide weekly online interviews or panel discussion exploring the careers of PhD researchers and postdocs beyond academia. These events are open to all interested individuals, including from outside Queen’s University Belfast.

Full list of events:


Event type
Postdoctoral Development Centre
Add to calendar
Event Organiser Details
Name Postdoctoral Development Centre