On Friday 27th January research staff from across Cardiff School of Biosciences came together to learn, plan and network. The event took place in the Central Queen’s Building from 10 am to 4.30 pm, and was organised by Ken Ewan, Lili Ordonez, Maddy Young, Andrew Hollins, Amy Baldwin and Monica Jakubowska.
The aims of the day were to familiarise researchers with the opportunities and support available to them both in the School and within career development. At the end of the day we asked attendees for feedback. When asked “What, if any, impact has today’s event had on you?” responders replied:
“Increased sense of community”; “More research ideas”: “Better understanding of the tech[nology] hubs” “Potential grant idea planted”; “What a great community we have”; “[hearing about] personal experience [was] very informative”; “Reconsider social media profiles”.
The day started off with coffee and Science Scrabble. Knowing that scientists are competitive and love to share what they are passionate about, I concocted ‘Science Scrabble’ which enables everyone to get to know new people as well as share their interests. Small teams worked together for 10 minutes to link together words related to their research interests. Each team member took it in turns to add a word to the interconnected network, as the grid filled up and it became more difficult to find space, the participants talked more about their research work and interests and their team mates helped them add a word to the grid. The winning team filled more than 200 squares.
The morning sessions started with short talks from some of the Bioscience hubs: Bioimaging Research Hub (follow @CUBioimagingHub on Twitter), Genomics Research Hub, Small Molecule Research Hub and Protein Technology Hub. The hub leaders updated us on what is new and described some of the projects that have been completed. After answering questions the session broke out into round table discussions where we could discuss techniques and potential projects in more detail.
Feedback showed that attendees found the most useful parts of the morning session were: “conversations that sparked new ideas”; “networking”; and “understanding what expertise and equipment is available from the Hubs”.
Over lunch we were joined by people who support us: Rose and Nikki where there to answer HR-related questions; Liam Morgan gave information about the Researcher Development Programme and the Welsh Crucible (@welshcrucible); Andy Rees from stores was on hand to take photos for the School staff profile pages; Lorraine Davies offered pensions advice; Ian Horton talked about innovation and impact; and Andrew Sutherland from Life Sciences Hub Wales in Cardiff Bay (@lsHubWales) gave out information, pens and mugs. Each person gave a 2 min pitch prior to lunch, it was really helpful to match names to faces.
The afternoon was packed full of useful information to support your research and your career. It started off with advice from two junior academic appointees, Joaquin de Navascués Melero and Isabel Martinez Garay, who talked about their personal experiences of sourcing funding and getting an academic appointment.
Next followed the launch of the 2017 Seed Corn Fund. This was absolutely fabulous news, in 2017 Cardiff School of Biosciences will increase it’s support for the fund once more; this year the pot has increased to £20,000 with individual awards of between £500 and £3,500. To find out how to apply read THIS POST. Maddy Young has coordinated the programme for the past two years including chairing the grant panel. As well as hearing from Maddy about tips and pitfalls of completing an application, two previous successful awardees talked about applying, their projects and how the funding had progressed their careers. Karen Reed (@) and Cerith Jones (@) received awards in 2015 which have made a significant impact on their research and careers.
*** Research staff also have the opportunity to find out how grants are reviewed and awarded. If you would like to be part of the Seed Corn grant panel this year email Ken Ewan (EwanK@cardiff.ac.uk). ***
Following a coffee break Daniela Riccardi, Deputy Head of School, announced the programme for the Postdoctoral Academy 2017. Sessions will include how to engage with politicians, alternative career options, from academia to running your own business or getting into management. There is an impressive array of speakers and you can find out more in THIS POST (including how to get a certificate).
The final session of the day focused on how to become an independent researcher and develop your portfolio. The three talks were developing your Unique Selling Point (USP)/creating a research identity from Esh Mathenthiralingam; polishing your professional online profile from Joe Nicholls (@JoeNicholls); and the potential benefits of blogging and engaging in the RSG blog from Andrew Hollins (@).
All attendees rated the afternoon sessions as either excellent or very good. Comments included: “Lots of advice“; “Personal reflection very good” and “Good advice“.
The day finished with concluding remarks from Ken Ewans (RSG committee chair), and also from Jim Murray (Head of School). The day was a great success. All attendee rated their experience as either excellent or very good, and feedback showed there is overwhelming support for a similar event next year.
We would like to thank all of you who completed feedback forms. Here is some more of the feedback we received:
“What a great community we have”
“Great opportunity to network – useful to chat to people”
“Enjoyable & easy going”
“Potential grant idea planted”
“Motivation to apply for seedcorn + attend Postdoc Academy”
“First opportunity since being at Cardiff to Network with research community”
- Attend the 2017 Postdoctoral Academy events (details here).
- Apply for the Seed Corn fund (details here)
- Review seed corn grants and sit on the panel (express your interest by emailing EwanK@cardiff.ac.uk)
- Attend the quarterly RSG meetings
- Become a RSG representative