Published: 31 January 2024

Staff sabbatical experiences

The University of Surrey supports a range of sabbaticals for staff members to promote professional development and internationalisation. 

Dr Alison Callwood's experience

Read Dr Alison Callwood’s account of her sabbatical, which she took in 2020–2021:

"I was extremely fortunate to be given the opportunity to take a sabbatical from January 2020 to July 2021. This enabled the setting up of a University of Surrey spin-out company called Sammi-Select and begin the journey of commercialising the inclusive interview technology we had created.  

My request to take the sabbatical was triggered by a grant awarded by Innovate UK (the United Kingdom's innovation agency which provides money and support to organisations to make new products and services) in November 2019. It enabled me to transition from a Lecturer in Midwifery to the company’s Chief Executive Officer and Project Manager, coordinating the technological development of the interview platform. 

Without the secondment, our inclusive online interview platform, SAMMI® would not exist today. That matters as SAMMI® is helping universities and public-sector organisations internationally to provide fair cost-efficient candidate selection at scale. Evaluation data on over 2,000 applicants shows SAMMI® is reliable, saves 70% of administrative time and opens up the applicant funnel by more than 10%. Most recently I was awarded an Innovate UK Women in Innovation Award to optimise the technology for neurodivergent accessibility. We know that around 40% of neurodivergent people are unemployed; we hope this will help save the government over £3.6 billion each year. 

I remain extremely grateful to Professor Melaine Coward, Dr Will Lovegrove and the staff in the School of Health Sciences for their early and ongoing support as, without this, the secondment would not have been made possible and we would not be seeing the impact it’s had across sectors internationally."

Rachel Simmonds’s upcoming sabbatical

Rachel Simmonds will be working with researchers at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity (University of Melbourne) to try and understand the role of the Sec61 translocon in local transmission cycles of Buruli ulcer disease (Mycobacterium ulcerans infection). 

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