Cathy Thornton

Cathy Thornton_bigCathy was born in Melbourne, Australia and after a science degree in biochemistry and microbiology/immunology at University of Tasmania undertook a PhD at Flinders University of South Australia studying the cytokine response of the placenta and implications of this for preterm birth.

She was awarded a prestigious CJ Martin Post-doctoral Fellowship from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NH&MRC) that enabled her to pursue post-doctoral studies at the Universities of Southampton (UK) and Western Australia investigating the antenatal determinants of immune function of new-borns.  It was during this period that Cathy was invited to join the then Clinical School at Swansea University in 2003 as a senior lecturer.

Cathy’s first child was born in 2005; the then Head of the Medical School supported her in returning to full time flexible work 12 weeks after the birth. This positive support toward flexible working has been a hallmark of the attitude that has prevailed since and enabled Cathy to apply for her Readership in 2008 whilst pregnant with her second child and helped her sustain an active research career.

This has been greatly facilitated by the adoption within the School of core working hours 9.30am- 15.00 for School committees. Cathy feels “highly valued and included, evidenced by the support of my present Head of School in my application for personal chair and role as Deputy Head of School. This has allowed me to chair and/or attend university meetings as both a senior academic for the medical school or cognate for other colleges where on occasion the scheduling has been revised to meet my childcare commitments and flexible working arrangements”.

Cathy continues to work flexibly enabling her to drop off and pick up her 6 and 10 year old sons from school typically 2 - 3 days/week; her partner is a full time academic who is able to work from home one day/week.  Cathy is now Professor of Human Immunology continuing on a research contract. She oversees the flow cytometry facility and human tissue research activity within Swansea University Medical School.  Cathy was School Impact lead for REF 2014.

Cathy says “I would like to think that I provide a visible and tangible role model for other female academics in the Medical School and across the University, participating in formal and informal work experience and other outreach opportunities”.