Liz Thackray

1. Name
Liz Thackray

2. Role
DPhil student – I’m now based in Sociology, but started off in Informatics

3. Mac or PC?
Mac, though I do find I get asked to fix PCs owned by other members of my household 😦

4. What is your favourite book?
That varies according to mood. Probably the books I go back to are Jean Auel’s Earths Children series, but I also like William Horwood’s Duncton Wood novels.

5. How did you get here?
By accident. I met Judith Good through some work I was doing with the Sussex Learning Network and acted as consultant on a course she led using a virtual world environment (Second Life). One day, I asked the foolish question of whether there might be a PhD in the work we were doing, and the rest is history. I might add that doing a research degree was never on my agenda. I spent many years working in voluntary and statutory social service organisations, lived in Germany for a few years being a ‘hausfrau’ and did a Masters conversion degree in information systems when I was fifty. I have been surprised by how much I have enjoyed the learning opportunity the last four years have presented – just wish I’d realised that when I was much younger!

6. What are you working on right now?
My original research ideas didn’t work out due to circumstances beyond my control. I have ended up moving some way away from virtual worlds and am exploring the real life problem of the struggle/fight metaphor in relation to special needs. Hence my current location in Sociology, but I have retained my links with the HCT group and have been playing with some ideas that might link the two areas.

7. Where do you take your inspiration from?
The people I work with.

8. What is the biggest challenge you face in your work?
I see myself as a practitioner and find it difficult to identify as an academic, having always had a healthy scepticism as to the value of scholarship as against life experience and practice. The challenge for me is embracing both camps and valuing them equally.

9. What else do you like to do?
When I have time, I enjoy doing things with thread, mainly lace of one sort or another. I am actively involved in my local church and run a support group for parents of children with special needs. When I want to switch off, I watch TV (Grey’s Anatomy is a favourite) or read trashy novels.

10. What’s next for you?
I sometimes half-jest that my DPhil is retirement preparation. Next on the agenda is actually getting the thesis written. After that, I would like to write up some of what I have learned that hasn’t made its way into my thesis. I suspect, I’m not quite ready to retire yet, so I’m interested in doing things that allow me to use the different areas of knowledge and experience gained if different domains over more years than I care to count.