Welcome to Faces of Reading
The following profiles feature colleagues who hold a wide variety of different roles across the University, operate across a variety of working arrangements, and hail from a richly diverse range of backgrounds. Each balance responsibilities at both work and at home, and contribute to the performance, community and culture of the University in a unique and important way.
lauren read, pa
When I first joined Henley Business School as a temp, I was struck by just how friendly everyone in the University was. Now, a permanent member of staff and five years on, I still feel the same way.
The environment with its green spaces is a great place to work. We have a wide diversity of wildlife on campus and a wander round the lake at lunch certainly helps to clear the mind and relax.
charlie williams, senior research fellow
As a Senior Research Fellow within the Department of Meteorology and the National Centres for Atmospheric Science, and having worked at the University since 2006, I've been involved with a whole host of projects surrounding climate variability and change and have witnessed the University develop as a workplace over the years.
I'm a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society, and am Chair of their Climate Change Research Group, as well as being affiliated to the Walker Institute for Climate System Research.
EMMANUEL A ESSAH, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR
I’m the Undergraduate Programmes Director for Construction Management and Engineering – which is part of the School of the Built Environment – so my remit is to oversee the strategy and day-to-day running of the four pathways we offer.
I actually came to Reading in two spells. The first time was in 2001 as a master’s student, and a year later I was hired as a Research Assistant before I left to do my PhD in 2004. I came back in 2009 as an Academic Fellow, and then in 2011 I became a lecturer.
fiona corby, careers consultant
I joined the University in 1998 as a Careers Consultant, a role which I'm still in today. The world is constantly changing, with careers constantly changing as a result, so there's never time to get bored. I get a buzz from helping young people reach their potential.
My work encompasses a wide range of responsibilities: student one-to-ones, lunchtime workshops, mentoring schemes, industry workplace visits, developing special resources and much more. It's busy but very enjoyable.
Chimene Daleu, research scientist
In 2009, after completing my master's degree in Italy, I secured a scholarship for international students and joined the University of Reading as a Meteorology PhD student. My research focuses on understanding tropical climate and its variability through the study of convection simulation and interactions with large-scale circulation.
The arrival of my daughter at the end of the second year of my PhD was a challenge. As a single mum, solely responsible for childcare, and with no family nearby, I needed to find a way to balance both motherhood and my studies. Professionally, it was quite disruptive, but the University was incredibly supportive.
king wong, it business partner
Whether you’re at home or at work, relationships are undeniably important. As an IT Business Partner, my focus is on business relationship management so I can ensure IT delivers the service that the University’s departments and schools are expecting.
I enjoy my career and my work, but I also have a bigger role – I’m a father to my children and a husband to my wife. That’s why I was grateful for the opportunity to take Shared Parental Leave (SPL) following the birth of my son, Luke.
Joy Singarayer, Associate Professor
I work in the Department of Meteorology, researching major changes in climate in the past. Through this research we can understand the impact past climates had on prehistoric people, as well as the impact these people had on the climate.
My partner, Richard, is also an academic, which can make family life tricky because we both travel a fair bit and work rather long and odd hours. It helps, though, that the work is interesting and enjoyable, and that the University supports flexible working.
Dale Cooper, Director of Campaigns & Supporter Engagement
Our son is 15 now and in his lifetime we have seen the LGBT landscape change dramatically: the repeal of Section 28, equal age of consent, civil partnerships and same-sex marriage. When he was born, there was no parental leave, we relied on the goodwill of our line managers. At the time, I worked in the charity sector where attitudes are welcoming but this was against a backdrop of few, if any rights and little understanding.
The atmosphere at Reading has been open and considerate. It was heartening to hear senior staff praise Lord Wolfenden, see a rainbow flag flying on campus, mark LGBT+ Day or set a target for our position in the Stonewall Equality Index. All important, public demonstrations of the University's desire to be inclusive.
Nicola Lower, Staff Engagement Officer
I work in internal communications, so it's my job to keep staff up to date with the latest news. I write stories for the Staff Portal and produce In Brief and other newsletters, and also work on communications for major campus projects such as the 2026: TRANSFORM capital investment programme. I really care about my work and I take a genuine sense of pride in it.
One of my favourite things about my job is the culture; it’s unique. There's a wide range of people and everybody is welcome, meaning there are always lots of different ideas and perspectives. The University is open to different approaches and different types of people, and there is no cookie-cutter shape of what an employee should be.
DAWN TURNER, SCHOOL EXECUTIVE ADMINISTRATION MANAGER
In my eight years at the University, I’ve progressed from Departmental Secretary for Meteorology to the Executive Administrative Manager for the School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences.
From the start of my career at Reading, I’ve been encouraged to take advantage of training opportunities, and I was given a mentor to help me in my role and with my personal development. Now I run a mentoring scheme.
Keshavan Niranjan, Professor of Food Bioprocessing
I joined the University in 1989 as a Lecturer, then became a Senior Lecturer in 1998, until I was accorded a Personal Chair in 2005. I specialise in food engineering, specifically applying my training in chemical engineering to food products and manufacture.
Having been at Reading for 28 years, I've seen a lot of change - but one thing that hasn't altered is the collegiate environment. The University is very supportive, and it's always been very collegiate - particularly in my Department - and I've really enjoyed that.
Uma Kambhampati, Professor and Head of School
I am a Professor of Economics and Head of the School of Politics, Economics and International Relations. I am an economist by training and part of the global research division in the University.
I love being an academic because it is work that I enjoy doing and I have fantastic colleagues.
I'm originally from Hyderabad in India, and I moved to England when I was 17. I completed my undergraduate degree, postgraduate degree and doctorate at the University of Cambridge. I then accepted a position as a Lecturer at the University of East Anglia, before joining the University of Reading in 1998.
IOANNIS OIKONOMOU, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR
I first came to Reading nine years ago to do my MSc and PhD, and for the past five years I’ve worked at the University as a full time academic with a varied mix of responsibilities.
I always try to contribute where I can: I’m Programme Area Director of Undergraduate Degrees in Finance, I teach undergraduate portfolio management, and I teach postgraduate students as the Director of MSc in Behavioural Finance. I also support executive education, by, for example, using high-frequency trading simulations to create market scenarios where people can trade in a risk-free environment.
Raul Marchena Magadan, Teaching Fellow
I'm a Teaching Fellow in Spanish language. Two years ago I was hired to participate in the introduction of Spanish language in the Department and help to set up the new BA Spanish programme.
I am originally from Havana, Cuba. I received a Chevening scholarship to study at the University of Manchester. After graduating I worked at Manchester for several years, and then the position became available at Reading.
It's an amazing job. You don't often get the opportunity to start something from scratch. It's a one-off experience. The environment is great – it's personal; you feel like a person rather than a number. And the campus, I love the trees! I'm in love with the campus.
Puspa Chettri, cleaning operative
I work as a cleaning operative, and I've had the same job at the University for over ten years. My job is quite similar from day to day but I enjoy it; I like to work and the people are nice here. I still enjoy being here after all this time!
I'm originally from Nepal. I moved to the UK with my husband and two sons, and this is the only job I've ever had in this country.
Christine Williams OBE, Professor of Human Nutrition
I was appointed the first Hugh Sinclair Professor of Nutrition at the University of Reading in 1995, before serving as the Head of the School of Food Biosciences and then the Dean of Life Sciences. I went on to become a Pro-Vice-Chancellor, and in 2013 I was awarded an OBE for contributions to nutritional science and higher education. It was a complete surprise to me and I was really inspired and humbled by it.
In 2014 I stepped down from my role as Pro-Vice-Chancellor and worked part-time. I wanted to help the University become more external-facing and take on some national roles. However my husband was diagnosed with cancer quite suddenly after I'd made these arrangements, and the University was hugely supportive during this time. This flexibility meant that I could take my husband for treatment every day, and I'm glad to say he made a full recovery.
PAUL BAKER, SENIOR TECHNICIAN
I first joined the University in 2012 as a trainee technician in the School of Biological Sciences. Now a Senior Technician, I provide teaching support as well as indirect research support. There’s a huge variety of work: prepping equipment and solutions, showing students how to use equipment and demonstrating techniques during term time, and assisting with the maintenance of research labs throughout the year.
I like the variety within the School of Biological Sciences, as well as the people I work with. If you’re part of a good team – and I certainly am – it means you’ve got a great place to work.
PARVATHI KUMARASWAMI, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR
I joined Reading's Department of Modern Languages and European Studies in 2014 to establish the BA Spanish programme.
Coming to Reading felt like a breath of fresh air: I was given a year to set up the new Spanish subject area and develop partnerships, and the University was very supportive of my vision for the programme. I'm a Latin Americanist, so our focus for the subject goes beyond Spain: we address the diversity of Spain and Latin America and their Spanish-speaking cultures. It's paying dividends in student recruitment and, I hope, student satisfaction.