If you are interested in our professional experience and want to see examples of our work, have a look at the publications section.

If you want to learn more about our associates, read about them on the associates’ page.

If you are a stalker or are interested in more personal information and the worrying insight this will give you into our psyche, then you are in the right place……

Find out about

  • Places we’ve lived
  • Where we studied
  • Our career histories
  • Our interests

Dr Sara Shinton


My early life was in the scenic West Midlands (if you’ve ever been to the West Midlands you’ll recognise this as irony). I mostly grew up in Walsall, birthplace of Noddy Holder and Jerome K Jerome.

I’ve worked in SwanseaEdinburgh and Newcastle and now reside in the glorious Scottish Borders.


I’m an alumna of Hydesville Tower School where my interest in science and writing was first nurtured by some excellent teachers, then moved to Penrhos College where I spend many happy weekends bombing around the Irish Sea (in the school’s rescue boat) and found a few minutes to get some A levels.

I managed to spend 7 years in higher education studying at Swansea University before emerging with a BSc in Chemical and Analytical Science and a PhD in Physical Chemistry. If you are interested, the title of my thesis was ‘Optical and Dielectric Properties of Polymer Dispersed Liquid Crystals’ but as I’d forgotten the title and had to find my thesis to write that, you can safely say that I’m not in a position to discuss dielectric spectroscopy with anyone!

My supervisor was Professor Graham Williams who is probably a better contact if you need to talk to someone about Dielectric Spectroscopy. He was a great supervisor – not only helping me put together a strong thesis, but also helping me to move away from Chemistry research when I realised it wasn’t for me.

Career History

Living by the seaside suited me so much that I continued in research in Swansea, completing a post-doc before realising that after 8 years of Chemistry that I fancied a change (to put it mildly).

With some help from Prof and the Careers Service I settled on a vague idea of a career in education or science, but not lecturing or research. Fortunately the Royal Society of Chemistry came to my rescue by funding a 12 month project to develop materials to promote communication skills in chemistry students, based at Heriot-Watt University, where I really found my niche (professionally) and met my husband, Keith.

From there I moved to Newcastle University, and spent two years as a Careers Adviser working with science undergraduates, research students and staff. These were very happy times and I worked with some great people in the Careers Service and throughout the Medical School.

Keen to be more involved in the curriculum, I moved into the Academic Development Unit in 1999 to manage a project to improve work experience and develop a work related learning module.

Although this was in many respects a great job, I started to realise that the things that interested me (PhD student development, academic researchers and scientific careers) were of interest to others and some might even be willing to pay! So, in July 2000 I took the plunge and went freelance and Sara Shinton Consulting was born!

Personal Stuff

For professional interests and examples of my work, have a look at the publications section.

We have three wonderful daughters who are my main interests and have taken priority over things I used to do (shopping, reading, wearing clean clothes). I now spend a lot of time watching Horrible Histories and Scooby Doo and torturing them by knitting a lot of appalling garments. My other main activity is trying to prevent my husband from buying any more classic motorbikes or boats.

If you want to know more, please get in touch via the contact page!


Dr Keith Morgan


I started out on the North Wales coast and grew up in sunny Rhyl.

It really is a nice climate down there on the coast as it is sheltered by the mountains of the beautiful Snowdonia National Park which really is worth a look if you have never been to Wales… but more on that later. Rhyl was a good place to be a youngster in the 70s and teenager in the early 80s. Anybody who was there might remember the Bistro (or equally might prefer not to!).

Compared to Walsall, Rhyl is quite a little place, but we still manage a somewhat bizarre pair of former residents… Mike Peters who fronted The Alarm (excellent 80s hair) and Ruth Ellis the last woman to be hanged in Britain.

I’ve studied or worked in CambridgeYork and Edinburgh but now live in the not so sunny, but still lovely Scottish Borders.


My secondary school was the local Rhyl High School, and I have fond memories of the sixth form common room and the old friends from those days. If you happen to be reading this one day, you know who you are! Looking back, some of the science teachers did a really good job.

Next I went off to Jesus College, Cambridge. For me, it was a bit of a culture shock at first, but it’s a really great place to be, with truly inspirational staff. I was in Chapel Court in first year where I made some great friends. I read Natural Science, which gives you a taste of a few subjects to start with. I settled on chemistry and didn’t look back for over a decade…

For a PhD I moved North to York where I worked for the then very young Pat Bailey, who is now at Keele. My PhD was in synthetic organic chemistry and Pat was an excellent, energetic supervisor and I didn’t hesitate to follow him even further North up to the chemistry department at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh to postdoc, which I guess is the start of the next section…

Career History

I did a couple of postdocs, both for Pat Bailey who was based at Heriot-Watt University at the time. I enjoyed working as a post doc, although I perhaps should not have done so for nearly five years as it is all too easy to fall into the dreaded postdoc trap that Sara has written about. There are highs and lows associated with being a post-doc and I could go on at length about this. Suffice it to say that I still think post-docs are not sufficiently appreciated in the higher education sector. The best outcome for me was meeting my wife, Sara.

In 1997, I had a quick look at industry and a disastrous interview for a publishing job, which at least gave Sara lots of fodder for interview skills workshops. So I continued down the traditional academic route with my first chemistry lectureship in the School of Textiles of Heriot-Watt. At first it was largely a teaching post, and I had a bit of a baptism of fire with the quantity required – sometimes the ink was literally still wet on the acetates! After a couple of years it got easier and the research started to take off again. I had some great chemists to collaborate with, namely Pat BaileyDavid Adams and Bob Christie and some excellent students. I also enjoyed the intellectually stimulating professional contacts with colleagues from other institutions, particularly Richard Boyd and David Meredith at Oxford. I have published around 30 papers, but… I started thinking about life-work-balance, as by 2002 we had two baby daughters. Late in 2003 I moved to my second lectureship, back up in the chemistry department at Heriot-Watt University. After being in this permanent post a couple of years, I decided that academia as a whole really was not for me after all. Thankfully this slow realization corresponded with the opportunity to join Sara and form Shinton Consulting Ltd in April 2006.

Personal Stuff

Back to Snowdonia… this is a great place to go rock climbing!! When I started in the mid 80s the scene was still relatively traditional – big boots for beginners like me back then! The climbing is very varied, ranging from technical slate slabs to awesome mountain crags and the sea cliffs of Gogarth (guess which was my favourite!). Anyway, rock climbing was always my second favourite thing in life, that’s how good it was. Unfortunately, a paragliding ‘mishap’ and then settling down with the family has somewhat curtailed my climbing.

So now I have a nice safe hobby of restoring and more importantly riding vintage motorbikes. My eldest is a 1936 AJS and it is great fun galloping down a country road with no rear suspension and not much in the way of brakes by modern standards. Luckily, the Borders is an ideal part of the world for old bikes. Of course you can never have too many bikes and if they are in pieces then they don’t really count…

If you want to know more, please get in touch via the contact page!

1 Comment

  1. Researchers’ Forum – Me, my career and the REF | UWE Gradschool blog
    March 16, 2017

    […] brought in Sara Shinton who has been involved in the career development of researchers up and down the country for many […]