Skip to main content

I’m a woman in Science

Claire Bushnell is sitting at her desk faced towards the camera. Behind is a black compluter and keyboard and wooden desk.
Claire Bushnell, Assistant Head of Governance and Engagement for DIO has worked in the field of science since 1998 [Crown Copyright/MOD2020]
Today is International Women in Science Day and to celebrate I’d like to tell you about how I’ve used science in my career at DIO.

A bit about me

My move to a career in science started when I first worked for DIO in 1998 as part of the technical support team. I worked with a range of technical specialists including environmental, mechanical, electrical, petroleum, health and safety experts and project managers. This made me realise how much I’ve always loved science since I was at school. So, I re-directed my career in MOD to focus on science. I completed a technical building qualification which was needed to get into a technical role and undertook training with a mentor which covered areas from waste water to contaminated land to carbon footprints. In addition to this I carried out two six-month work placements with an experienced environmental advisor at RAF Mildenhall and RAF Alconbury.

I was even lucky enough to experience a three-month tour in Bosnia, where I was the environmental advisor, managing surveys, checking for contamination of land and determining compliance requirements with our onsite contractors. At the same time I completed a diploma in contaminated land then a degree in Environmental Science.

My role at DIO

In my role as an environmental advisor for DIO I worked across RAF Croughton, RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall and completed bat surveys in buildings that were due to be demolished to see if they were being used for feeding and hibernation by bats. I’ve also had the opportunity to give talks at schools and to the United States Visiting Forces (USVF) team to help them understand the British bat species and identify newts on the Defence estate.

I’ve provided support and advice to capital works projects where work was based at Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Conservation Areas (SAC), enabling them to provide detailed responses to local authority planning. Due to good working relationships with regulators, I was able to provide do’s and don’ts along with ensuring permits were in place to ensure delivery works were not delayed. I also worked closely with  planning departments and project managers to aid with scheduling construction projects to protect and monitor our stone curlew population.


Stone curlew chicks.

I’ve worked on the management and clean-up of contaminated land, working closely with experienced contractors to ensure the environment is returned to its original state. I helped to monitor the waste from construction projects, reporting figures of waste being re-used and recycled.

Having spent all my career working on the USVF bases in the UK, it was nice to reach out to others doing similar roles in DIO, such as the teams based at Westdown Camp. By attending conservation forums with other like-minded people in DIO and MOD, I discovered a whole range of individuals who were subject matter experts in their various fields, who were able to provide additional support and advice and sometimes were a sounding board to ensure I was on the right track. These individuals cover a whole range of subjects from sustainability to forestry to protected species to heritage buildings and are a source of additional knowledge and resource.

Throughout my time at DIO, I’ve also learned ways of managing environmental issues and constraints across the MOD estate and for our customers. All of these experiences have allowed me to progress from an environmental advisor to a stewardship manager to my current role as Assistant Head of Governance and Engagement working for the United States Visiting Forces Infrastructure Programme (UIP) managing a £2.5 billion capital works programme for the customer across the UK. One thing my jobs have taught me is that in the environmental field, no two days are ever the same and there is always something new to learn.

Claire's role is as part of the United States Visiting Forces Infrastructure Programme (UIP). Here, a Hardened Aircraft Shelter is being demolished at RAF Lakenheath.

There are various roles and areas where you can get involved in science at DIO. These include forestry, ecology, and archaeology and roles within mechanical and fuel engineering, electrical infrastructure, sustainability and environmental planning. Look out for future opportunities to work with on Civil Service Jobs and our LinkedIn page.

Sharing and comments

Share this page

Leave a comment

We only ask for your email address so we know you're a real person

By submitting a comment you understand it may be published on this public website. Please read our privacy notice to see how the GOV.UK blogging platform handles your information.