The dream job: Frances the University Lecturer

I have a new job; one that I have dreamt of for more than 20 years. Yes, as of this week, I am a Lecturer* in Informatics in the School of Computing at Edinburgh Napier University and a member of the Centre for Social Informatics research group.

Edinburgh Napier University Merchiston campus, where I will be based

About the job

This role is a teaching and research role. I will be contributing to the school’s existing curriculum, including modules I helped to deliver during my PhD studies. I will also have the opportunity to contribute towards the development of new modules and degree programmes in e-health and informatics in general. From the research side, I will continue with my overarching research focus on information sharing and use in online environments, especially as it relates to everyday life and “lived” or real-world experiences. This is likely to build on some of my PhD and post-doctoral research activities with a little tweak here and there as I build my larger research portfolio.

I will spend the next few weeks settling into the new role. That will include setting up my various accounts and IT equipment, working through induction materials, developing a work plan for my research and teaching objectives, preparing for teaching in the new year, and meetings. Lots and lots and lots of meetings!

Dr Frances Ryan, Lecturer

In many ways, this new job is a return home for me. Regular Just Frances readers may know that Edinburgh Napier University is where I did my PhD. And I also did a year’s study abroad at Napier way back in 2001/2002 as part of my undergraduate studies more than 20 years ago. And it was during that year abroad that I met Paul. It is very possible that, without Napier, Paul and I would never have met.

The dream journey

This is a “dream job” long in the making and there is a slight bitterness to the sweet because I know the dream is happening even though it’s not happening the way I envisioned it.

I first knew I wanted to get my PhD (and hopefully work in academia) during my undergraduate studies. I had planned to enjoy my year’s study abroad then I would do my last year of undergraduate work before jumping into a master’s degree with a PhD to follow. But I met Paul during my study abroad year and that meant that I delayed my postgraduate studies so that we could get married and start a wonderful future together.

The Ryans, St John the Baptist Catholic Church, Cle Elum, Washington (USA), 21 May 2005

Fast forward a few years, I planned to do my master’s degree and my PhD as a married woman with the support of my husband and the children we were meant to adopt. Indeed, Paul and I used to talk about how wonderful it would be when I was Dr Ryan the Lecturer. We dreamt of how my personal ambitions were part of our shared future and the dreams that we had for that future.

And then tragedy struck. My beloved husband died just two weeks before we were to take our adoption placement and just months before I was meant to begin my master’s degree. So, I had to put my professional dreams on hold because I could barely breathe in those first days, weeks, and months. There was no way I would be able to focus on a degree course when my energies were consumed with simply surviving after being amputated at the heart.

But eventually, I grew strong enough to continue the journey and I (finally) completed my master’s degree (University of Stirling, 2012) and my PhD (Edinburgh Napier University, 2019).

And now, I have the job that I have dreamt of for so very long.

I am not sure where the journey will take me from here, but I am hopeful that having the security of a permanent job will provide me with the mental and emotional security to begin thinking about a positive future – and even to make plans with a little more certainty (or at least with a little more hope).

Whilst I am really excited about my new job, I won’t be blogging about it here – unless there is a connection to my personal life. If you want to follow my academic journey, you can check out my professional blog over at or follow my academic Twitter account.

As for this site, I will continue sharing stories of my various adventures, hopes and dreams, random musings, and all sorts of other stuff. I hope you enjoy the journey!

* A “lecturer” in the UK is similar to a “professor” in America. Whilst a UK “professor” title is roughly the equivalent of an American “chair”. Language is weird.

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