James Bendle

21-January-2010Please mousover hard words to see what they mean

Meet James Bendle transcript

It's good. I am happy we moved here - two years ago. My wife and I are both from the Guildford area of Surrey, south of London.

People who don't work in universities don't realise how flexible you have to be, how mobile you have to be if you want to work in science at a university. Scientists are so specialised that there might only be a handful of labs in the world, a handful of universities, that are interested in, that specialise in, your area of research.

So if you have the chance to start up your own research group and get a permanent position at a university, most academics will take that job no matter where it is in the world. It could be in New Zealand, in the US, anywhere. Most people who really want a career as an academic scientist will move to wherever they can get the job. Often there is only one opening and that is your one chance.

New home

It was our good luck that it was in Glasgow, which might seem a long way from down south, from Surrey. But in the big scheme of things it is not very far at all. It's fine for seeing family and grandparents. It wasn't a hard decision.

My wife is a primary school teacher. So she was able to be flexible. She can move to different parts of the country and find work. It might be good advice to anyone who wants to be a scientist – marry a primary school teacher, especially if they are willing to teach English as a foreign language. My wife did that when we were living in Japan. She worked in a Japanese kindergarten, teaching kids English.

I don't mind at all that my boys will grow up with Scottish accents, they'll be Scottish. On my wife's side of the family there is Scottish ancestry and it's just a question of whether they wear a Sutherland or Russell kilt. On my wife's side of the family there is a grandad who is a Sutherland and a grandmother who's a Russell. I don't wear the kilt at all because I have no Scottish ancestry. I have the red hair but not the blood.

I am happy for them to grow up in Glasgow. It's a great city. The people are friendly and there's a lot to do. It's good.

Leaving them behind

My new son who's two weeks old is a true Glaswegian. He was born in Govan at the Southern General. It is tough having to leave him. George, the older boy has seen me go away on fieldwork and expeditions, and come back.

He has been through that several times. He is used to it now. He is interested in it. He asks me about the research ship, and I show him videos of it on YouTube. He will miss me but he is interested in it. Whereas the baby that's just been born is so young that he won't miss me. But it is going to be difficult for my wife obviously.

We are lucky in that we have sympathetic grandparents, who have pretty much all retired. So we have shiftwork planned for them. They are going to be up here in blocks of several weeks, helping out. I will be away but Caroline and the kids will be at home, and there'll be grandparents up to take care of them. It's a good chance for them to spend some time with them.

It is tough, but we have been through it several times before. It is one of those things that you accept as part of the job - going away and doing expeditions and fieldwork. It could be worse. People who work for the British Antarctic Survey for example sometimes spend two years away.

It is not people with young families, but that is at the extreme end of things. So taken in context it's not so bad.

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