Frank Sargent

Frank Sargent was born in 1970 in the former coal-mining town of Kirkcaldy on the East coast of Scotland. In 1988 Frank embarked on a biochemistry degree at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland without any real expectations regarding making a career in scientific research. While in Edinburgh, however, Frank became alerted to the potential of bacteria as ideal model organisms for fundamental biochemical and cellular research. Research projects followed in Roland Wolf’s molecular pharmacology group (since moved to Dundee, Scotland) and, most significantly, with Graham Pettigrew studying bacterial metal-containing enzymes. To Frank, the research laboratory was beginning to feel like a second home already. Following graduation from Edinburgh in 1992, Frank was lucky enough to be offered a place in the University of Dundee’s graduate school and so joined David Boxer’s group investigating metal-dependent hydrogenase enzymes in bacteria. Frank’s PhD was awarded in 1996 and he immediately took up a postdoctoral position in another country (England!) with Tracy Palmer at the John Innes Centre in Norwich. A second postdoc contract followed in 1998 with Ben Berks (then at the University of East Anglia, Norwich).

Those postdoctoral years whetted Frank’s appetite for bench work and scientific research so he made a conscious decision to attempt to become an independent researcher in his own right. During his third year as a postdoc Frank applied for three or four different UK Fellowship schemes and one old-fashioned University lectureship. In spite of the inevitable failures and rejections, Frank was lucky enough to win a University Research Fellowship from The Royal Society in 2000. The freedom and protection offered by the Royal Society Fellowship allowed Frank’s research to flourish and his work was awarded The Fleming Prize from the Society of General Microbiology in 2006 and The Colworth Medal from The Biochemical Society in 2007. Indeed, Frank remains the only scientist to hold both these awards simultaneously. This small amount of success attracted some attention in UK academia and Frank moved his research team to the College of Life Sciences, University of Dundee in July 2007. There, Frank completed the transition for Royal Society Research Fellow to University Professor and his undergraduate students nominated him for two Excellence in Teaching Prizes, which were duly awarded in 2010. Frank’s research continues to be critically acclaimed: he was awarded the FEBS Young Group Leader Prize in 2009 and The Wain Medal for interdisciplinary science from the University of Kent, England in 2010. Finally, Frank sits on a number of committees at the University of Dundee, the most important of which is as one of two Faculty Advisors to the College of Life Sciences Postdoc Association (CLSPA). The College of Life Sciences employs around 950 people, ~300 of whom are postdoctoral researchers on temporary contracts. CLSPA was formed by, and is run by, the postdocs for the postdocs. They arrange a welcome pack for new staff, a social program, an academic program, career development workshops, and much more.