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Jobs that make a difference: Research Project Assistant

Beatrice Ashton-Lelliott was a Research Project Assistant in Research Innovation Services (RIS). More on how her job is making a difference.

Beatrice holding a book
Exploring the impact of conjuring upon literature and other media

A magical journey through research

Beatrice joined the Research and Innovation Services (RIS) team as a Research Project Assistant at the University of Bath during the lockdown in May 2021.

Currently working across the departments of Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Physics and Computer Science, Beatrice provides essential administrative support to a range of diverse EU and UKRI-funded research projects. From servicing meetings and monitoring spending to writing newsletters and organising public engagement events - no two days are the same.

Over the past twelve months, Beatrice has supported Research Project Managers working across the WIRC (Water Innovation and Research Centre), WISE (Water Informatics Science and Engineering) Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT), and the GW4 WSA (Water Security Alliance) consortium projects.

I love that every day is different.

I act as the main liaison between academics and research staff and help them with whatever they need. I’m a go-between – a steady, reliable point of contact for Research Project Managers who are dealing with hundreds of projects.

Most people working in office jobs tend to do the same thing every day, but I love the fact that I’m working on lots of fascinating research projects (sometimes seven at a time) and always learning something new.

With a BA in English and a Masters in Art, Literature and Culture from Royal Holloway, Beatrice joined Bath after completing her funded PhD in Literature whilst working as an Undergraduate Marketing Administrator at the University of Portsmouth.

I was always a really big reader from a young age and at school, I was keen to learn as much as possible about books. I became captivated by Victorian fiction through the works of Dickens and Trollope - and the rest is history.

My love of reading and studying and examining texts has given me the critical reading skills I now use in my day job.

Inspired by the “overly dramatic” autobiographies of rival magicians in the 19th-century, Beatrice’s doctoral studies into stage magician autobiographies and representations of conjuring in Victorian literature became her next passion.

I was so struck by how weird and wild it all was.

Exploring the impact of conjuring upon literature and other media during the Victorian period is a niche area, but having the opportunity to study a topic that is endlessly fascinating to me is such a joy.

Next month, Beatrice is set to expand her PhD work by commencing a postdoctoral fellowship funded by the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science at Waseda University in Tokyo.

I want to fill in the gaps that I can see in current histories of magic.

Familiar with the vivid and striking British magic posters and conjuring manuals of the 19th-century, Beatrice is keen to compare and contrast them against similar representations developed in isolation in Meiji-era Japan.

I can’t wait to examine these hand-illustrated, hand-painted beautiful pieces of Japanese art.

It’s a great time to be interested in magic with collections opening up all over Japan. Magic is a huge part of Japanese popular culture - there are even dedicated magic aisles in their department stores.

As part of her fellowship work, Beatrice will study the collections held at the National Library of Japan, the Waseda University Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, and the Illusion Museum in Osaka.

When I started in the pandemic, the (RIS) team was so welcoming. It really has been such a supportive environment to work in. Even though there are some colleagues I still haven’t met in person yet, I’m going to be sending a lot of postcards to the team from Japan!

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