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Alison Provost

Performance quantifier, Alison Provost answers our questions.

ND diagnosis or self-identify as:

Diagnosed with dyslexia, dyspraxia and Irlen Syndrome.

Current job title:

I am investigating the heat transfer of permeable concrete infrastructure using innovative laboratory experimentation, numerical modelling, and large-scale field sites.

What does your job involve?

I am day-to-day using bespoke state-of-the-art test rigs to quantify the performance of the heated structures.
This work will enable efficient ice/snow removal in a cost effective and sustainable manner to improve safety of our major concrete infrastructure, including airports, highways and railways.

Degree/apprenticeship or route to current job:

I attained a BSc in Geology before completing an MSc in Soil Mechanics with Engineering Geology. In my MSc project I worked with Dr Alalea Kia and Dr David Taborda and thoroughly enjoyed the work. I have continued this work to my current position as a PhD student working in Novel Heated Permeable Pavements.

What were your challenges in school?

I loved school and have always had a passion for learning. I developed strong coping mechanisms that got me as far as A-Levels without apparent challenges to the outside world.

After failing my AS-Levels I was diagnosed with Irlen Syndrome and subsequently dyslexia and dyspraxia when I started university.

I struggled with the overwhelming workload of A-Levels and could not figure out why I couldn’t just ‘get it.’

What strategies/ assistive technology do you use to help you in your work?

I always ensure that I have green coloured backgrounds, overlays and glasses at the ready to make reading easier for me (green is the Irlen colour that improves my light sensitivity).

I find the claro softwares and screen ruler very helpful for reading and writing, and mindview helpful for getting my ideas down.

A real life-saver for me at university was Sonnocent to be able to ensure that I have got all of the content I can from a lecture before reviewing it.

What ND skills have allowed you to succeed (or progress) in your STEM career?

Being able to be incredibly resilient and easily adaptable in an academic environment has been so valuable.
Being able to think out of the box and from a different perspective has enlightened so many team and group-working situations.

Being able to switch between tasks constantly and go back to tasks later has been really helpful so far throughout my PhD.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Always always believe in yourself. It sounds cliché but the times when I have really succeeded, I truly believed in myself. Embrace change, be confident and try not to look at what everyone else around you is doing – everyone is on their own path. Most importantly you need to know that your resilience will take you to places that you didn’t know were possible.

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