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Researcher Development Team


Gráinne Barkess, Head of Researcher Development


Research is a demanding but rewarding job, and Grainne can help you get the most out of your research career.


Having joined Edinburgh Napier in 2011, Gráinne's role as the Head of Researcher Development is to help you develop both your current research skills and projects, as well as support you to develop plans for your future career.


To help you develop your research career Grainne runs lots of courses and events for research students, early career researchers and research supervisors. Grainne is also here to support you if you are completely new to research.


Edinburgh Napier’s courses are mapped against Vitae’s Researcher Development Framework, which can help you identify research areas that you might want to focus on or develop. She is really keen to hear what the research community requires for their own development and is always open to suggestions.


Contact: g.barkess@napier.ac.uk - ext 3341

Sophie Morris, Researcher Developer 

Sophie Morris.jpgSophie is one of your researcher developers and looks after the researcher development programme. Sophie also works to evaluate the researcher development programme to assess its impact. 

In her spare time, Sophie loves to travel in her home-made campervan, get on her mountain bike and grow/attempt to grow tasty veggies.

Vani Naik (she/her) – Researcher Developer


Vani is your Researcher Developer (currently providing maternity cover leave for Sophie Morris), whose main goal is to develop research students and researchers across Edinburgh Napier University. The aim is to equip all researchers with the capabilities appropriate for research and research-related careers within academia and beyond, in line with the university’s strategic objective of ‘Build Careers, Create Opportunities’.


Vani is currently undertaking a part-time PhD on gender inequality within academia, and so has a particular interest in embedding equality, diversity and inclusion within the Researcher Development Programme. Vani has held research and teaching positions within academia and in industry, and has worked internationally including Turkey, Australia and New Zealand.


Contact: v.naik@napier.ac.uk​

 ​​​​​Dawn Smith - Public Engagement Manager


Dawn has worked at Edinburgh Napier University since 2015 in the university’s first public engagement role. Her role is to direct the institution’s approach to public engagement, leading from a strategic and operational level. Dawn’s academic background is in languages and worked in the media, education and third sectors before moving into higher education. Dawn has a particular interest in co-producing and developing new methods to bring people, their ideas and perspectives together. She is a firm believer that no research is beyond public engagement; in a nutshell, the quirkier the better!


As Public Engagement Manager Dawn works with our six academic Public Engagement Leads who make up the university’s Public Engagement Forum. Dawn has a central role in both Edinburgh’s Beltane Public Engagement Network [https://www.beltanenetwork.org] and ScotPEN [https://www.scotpen.org] to make sure our approach to public engagement maintains its collaborative roots.


Contact: dawn.smith@napier.ac.uk - ext 3354​​​​