Contributor – Maddy Young
Co-chair Biosciences Research Staff Group (Fixed Term Research Staff representative)
Research Associate on a Cancer Research UK funded programme grant
Since finishing my PhD at Cardiff in 2013, I was fortunate enough to be able to continue my research into the relationship between intestinal stem cells and colorectal cancer as a research associate on a Cancer Research UK (CRUK) programme grant in the late Professor Alan Clarke’s group. As a junior post doc I have been looking forward to what I would like my future career pathway to be, and am beginning to see the challenges facing those who want to pursue a career in research.
From a purely selfish point of view I have made it my business to try and get my head around the common challenges and pitfalls of this career path, which lead me to become heavily involved in the Bioscience Research Staff Group (BRSG). Becoming co-chair has been a steep learning curve, and I am now really beginning to understand how decisions are made within the School of Bioscience. As co-chair, I am also required to represent the views and concerns of fixed and open-ended contract research staff on the Staff Working Environment Committee and the School Board . This has been a very rewarding experience, as although not all challenges faced by research staff are easily resolved, I feel very certain that through these committees our voice is being heard.
Throughout my time on the BRSG I have learnt a number of things, most importantly I have become much more assertive, which I am told is a good skill for a researcher to have! I believe very strongly that fixed and open-ended contract research staff face unique challenges from other Bioscience staff, and that these challenges should be recognised throughout the school.
The highlight for me being on the BRSG was getting School permission (and funding) to run a seedcorn fund for post-docs in order to perform short independent experiments which could provide preliminary data for a future fellowship application. This was a great scheme, as not only did it show post-docs that the School of Bioscience were really dedicated to helping them develop their careers, but it was invaluable for us in the BRSG as well. We collected all the applications and led by Professor Ros John (Co-chair) we assessed them all in the style of a Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) funding panel. This was hugely informative for those on the panel as it gave us a real insight into what funders are looking for in grant applications.
All in all the BRSG has made some very positive changes for research staff at Cardiff School of Bioscience, and I really hope we will continue to do so.
Maddy can also be found over on –
Cardiff University staff profile: Maddy Young
References / other reading –
 committee links and structures can be found in the Biosciences Intranet site