Meet...Jenny Barnes

2 June 2020

Name: Jenny Barnes

Job title:
Undergraduate Teaching Laboratory Manager

What are you currently working on?
Trinity Term is currently on (though you might not have noticed due to the current circumstances) and we have had the teaching laboratories operating in a remote sense for the first four weeks of term. A combination of chats and video calls on Microsoft Teams, plus some hard work from the IT group, the teaching laboratory technicians and heads of labs over the vacation have meant we have been able to offer a selection of experiments for students to work on from the comfort of their own home. As the labs will then close for the year, I am starting to plan for next term, in case social distancing is required in the teaching laboratories.

Describe a typical day
Normally it is very busy during student terms, as up to 400 students a week can come through the undergraduate teaching laboratories. My day is then usually spent answering questions from students and demonstrators, checking everyone has turned up and equipment is working – I don’t often spend time in my office!

This term the labs are much quieter but we have still ‘seen’ around 100 students over the past 4 weeks online. When the virtual laboratory is ‘open’, I oversee the chats between students and demonstrators on Teams, help out with IT problems when I can and I send lots of emails to students who still need to finish practical work for this year, reminding them what they need to do.

If you had an entire day at your disposal (not at work), what would be your ideal way to spend it?
As I have an allotment, I would spend time working on that to keep the weeds under control or picking the vast number of raspberries it produces each summer.

What is your favourite place in Oxford?
University Park – it is large enough that you can always find a quiet spot but you also never know who you will run into (sometimes almost literally) when taking a walk.

Plan B: what would you be if you weren’t doing the job you are currently doing?
As I love maths and puzzles, I would probably have a job involving solving puzzles, like code breaking.