27th Jan 2013: Oxbridge Biotech Roundtable Science Writing Workshop

Oxbridge Biotech Roundtable

OBR’s mission is to engage our academic and industry communities on-campus to foster a conversation about the health care and life sciences industry. OBR seeks to create a global network of academic innovators from across disciplines, to connect them with each other and the industry resources necessary to move ideas forward.

WISE@QMUL is co-hosting the Oxbridge Biotech Roundtable (OBR) London Chapter‘s Science Writing Workshop with Dr Lisa Melton, Senior News Editor at Nature Biotechnology, entitled “Beyond Writing Well: How to Become a Science Communicator”.

There are only 50 places 100 places* for this free evening workshop, and registration is open to all OBR members, not just QMUL research students/staff, so register immediately: http://www.oxbridgebiotech.com/events/beyond-writing-well-become-science-communicator/.

*The first set of tickets sold out so quickly we had to extend our booking to both Blomeley Rooms in order to provide 50 more places. That’s how much we care about you all! :)

You must be an OBR member to attend, so don’t forget to sign up for free membership here: http://www.oxbridgebiotech.com/join.

If you still haven’t clicked the above links, here are three reasons why you really should have by now:
  1. You get to hear from Lisa, an inspiring speaker with a wealth of practical advice to share about science communication.
  2. You may be recruited to be a voluntary author for the OBR Review, a top class biotech blog with over 10,000 views per month.
  3. You can identify your weaknesses in science writing and increase your chances of winning £500 cash in OBR’s 2014 Science Writing Competition.

The workshop will be followed by complimentary drinks and refreshments (sponsored by WISE@QMUL), so that you can mingle with the rest of the participants as well as Lisa, the OBR London Chapter team and the WISE@QMUL committee.

OBR flier: Writing workshop

When: Mon 27th Jan 2014, registration starts 6:30 pm, workshop starts promptly at 7 pm
Where: Blomeley Room 2, G/F, Queen Mary Students’ Union Hub, Mile End Campus, E1 4NT
Map: QMUL Mile End Campus Map (Building 34)

Closest tube stations: Stepney Green/Mile End
Bus routes: 25/205

Detailed directions:
It is extremely important that you read the campus map. The entrance to the QM Students’ Union Hub is NOT on Mile End Rd. Blomeley Room 2 will be clearly signposted once you enter the building.

  • If coming from Stepney Green Station, turn left as you come out of the station. Walk down Mile End Rd, crossing Bancroft Rd before entering the campus via the gates at the Clock Tower. Follow the path to the right of Queens’ Building (big, old building) and at the end of the path turn right and right again. You should now have the Library (you can’t miss this) on your left , and if you now look back towards Mile End Rd, the building straight ahead is the Students’ Union Hub.
  • If coming from Mile End Station, cross Mile End Rd when you come out of the station then turn left. Cross the road towards the overpass and walk down Mile End Rd, passing The New Globe pub and the canal before entering the campus. Walk around the first building on your left as you enter the campus (ArtsOne), and continue walking westwards (away from Mile End Station), passing the Law Building and ArtsTwo on your left and a cemetery on your right (no joke!). You will soon get to a circular building (Ground Café). Follow the path around it and you will see the Students’ Union Hub ahead of you.
  • If taking buses 25 or 205, get off at the stop called “Queen Mary, University of London”, enter the campus via the gates at the Clock Tower and follow the above directions for walking from Stepney Green Station.
  • Email wiseqmul@gmail.com if you need any further instructions.

Travel advice:
The District and Hammersmith & City lines get extremely crowded at rush hour, so please allow yourself 15 minutes more than expected to get to QMUL.

Finally, please sign up for our free membership to receive the latest news on upcoming WISE@QMUL events.

Speaker:

  • Lisa Melton obtained her PhD at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and did her postdoctoral work at the National Institutes for Medical Research, in London where she investigated thymic differentiation. She then took a science writer’s position at the Wellcome Trust and later the Novartis Foundation, contributing to NatureScientific AmericanNew Scientist and the Times among others. She joined Nature Biotechnology in 2008. — Biography from Nature Biotechnology
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8 tips for staying in academia: A female perspective

If you’re still looking for inspiration for new year’s resolutions, I’m listing my favourite take-home messages from our November panel discussion about the female perspective on academic life.

1. Try new places whilst you still have the flexibility to

Thinking about your next position? It might not be such a bad idea to look outside of your current city or even abroad whilst you still have the flexibility to move your entire life to somewhere new. All of our panellists agreed that moving abroad is one of the best ways to mature yourself, both personally and professionally. If you’re already in a relationship, it’s natural to worry about the distance, but try to make the best decision for yourself.  Look out for pan-EU funding schemes such as Horizon 2020, and also keep in mind that specific fellowships exist for UK academics who have worked abroad and now wish to return to the UK.

2. Be aware of the international differences in academic systems and visa restrictions

Before you take the plunge, be wary of how different academic systems can be across the continents. As an example, one of our panellists who started her career in Canada, where publishing frequently in smaller journals is advocated, found it relatively difficult to find a position here in the UK because interviewers preferred academics who published less frequently but in journals with higher impact factors. Also find out exactly what teaching and other administrative duties may be implicit in your new position. If you are planning to or already have a family, be aware that visa restrictions may mean that you’re not eligible for schemes such as child benefits or tax rebates, even if your partner is a local citizen.

3. Travel to meet your future employers

If there is a particular academic you would love to work with, get in touch and make the effort to visit them if possible. One of our panellists landed her first postdoc position at the Max Planck Institute because she visited her target research group for a week, under the guise of helping them with experiments, presented her PhD work and impressed them so much that they asked her to stay! Don’t be afraid to create your own employment opportunities.

4. Distinguish between incompatibility and inadequacy

When experiments don’t go to plan, you start to question your ability in the lab. When your whole PhD feels like a losing battle, you start to question your adequacy for scientific research altogether. One of our panellists shared that she certainly considered that she might not be cut out to be an academic as she finished her PhD degree, but she stuck with it and found a postdoc position in a different field of biology. It was only then that she realised she hadn’t lacked ability—she had lacked interest for her PhD topic. When you’re feeling down about your scientific career, try to make the same distinction in your mind: are you truly inadequate, or just incompatible with your current research topic or research group?

5. Establish your independence as a researcher as soon as possible

A good supervisor for your first postdoc position will work with you from day 1 to establish your independence as a researcher. Unfortunately such supervisors are hard to come by, and most likely it will be down to you to start negotiating what you can take away as your own research after you leave the research group; this is something you should always keep in mind. Your postdoc career should be an exploratory period in which you define the research topic that you want to pursue for the rest of life, so don’t let the day-to-day pressures from your supervisor take away your focus on your long-term goals.

6. Know who to take what advice from

Senior academics are often generous with their advice for their younger counterparts, but don’t be pressured into thinking that they know your research better than you. As one of our panellists emphasised that when seeking advice for a grant application, you should certainly let them guide you on how best to present your proposal, but you don’t have to take their recommendations on what science you should do.

7. Don’t worry too much about when you will have children

Both of our panellists with children agreed: there will be a time when you will genuinely want to have a child, and when that time comes, you will try to have a child irrespective of circumstances. It still sounds pretty mystical to me, but I guess their underlying message is not to worry too much. Like any other key life decisions, there will always be doubt and fear, but once the decision is made, things will generally fall into place around it, so stop fretting excessively and let your instincts guide you once in a while. On a practical note, most academic departments have already amazing accommodations in place for new parents, so don’t be disparaged before you check exactly what you can have.

8. Love doing research

Research is at its core a compulsive act of unsatiated curiosity. If you’re driven by such a compulsion, you’ll pull through no matter what, regardless of gender biases, parenting demands and all the other obstacles between you and staying in academia. WISE@QMUL and many other organisations are trying our best to minimise these obstacles. The question is of course: do you want it enough?

Our panellists spoke to a full room of anxious PhD students and early career researchers

Our panellists spoke to a full room of anxious PhD students and early career researchers

To summarise:
  1. Try new things whilst you still have the flexibility to
  2. Be aware of the international differences in academic systems and visa restrictions
  3. Travel to meet your future employers
  4. Distinguish between incompatibility and inadequacy
  5. Establish your independence as a researcher as soon as possible
  6. Know who to take what advice from
  7. Don’t worry too much about when you will have children
  8. Love doing research :)

From everybody in the WISE@QMUL committee, we wish you all the best for 2014 and we look forward to seeing you at our upcoming events.  We will kickstart the new year with a discussion of the Athena SWAN Charter, a scheme launched in 2005 to recognise academic departments committed to advancing women’s careers.

Our four panellists

Our four panellists and our Chair, Joanne, on the far right

Our panellists on 20th November 2013 were (left to right):

Exciting start as WISE@QMUL relaunches!

Wow, what a great start our new programme, it’s made me so excited about future WISE@QMUL events! We had our first WISE@QMUL Lounge on 22nd March 2013, featuring some incredibly inspiring speakers, lovely food and a great turnout of guests.

Prof Evelyn Welch, VP at QMUL for Research and International Affairs opened the afternoon.

Dr Becky Stewart completed her PhD at QMUL’s Centre for Digital Music and re-visited her old turf to talk to us about the joys and perils of recently starting up Codasign, her own interactive arts and technology company in London.  It was especially great to hear from Becky, as she was involved in WISE during her time at QMUL.

Our very own Magda heroically stepped in at the last minute to give us a refresher about what WISE aims to achieve this year (and beyond!) and how to get involved.

Finally, Jennifer Indovina gave us a whirlwind bio and series of take-away pointers from her own experience of setting up her own company, Tenrehte Technologies.  Highlights included winning the Green Technology Category in the Best of CES (Consumer Electronics Show) 2010 and becoming a TED Fellow.  Jen set up Tenrehte to produce wireless green tech products, including the PICOwatt plug to monitor your home electronic devices from anywhere in the world.

WISE is always looking for new ideas for events so if you have any suggestions at all, even if they are very small, please use our contact form.

Roll on the next WISE Lounge!

March 2012 WISE Awareness Week

Members of the committee braved the cold in Library Square to raise awareness of the return of WISE@QMUL!

Our awareness week took place from 6th-8th March 2013 to recruit new members and chat to the students and staff of QMUL about WISE@QMUL.

WISE committee members braved cold fingers to recruit new members; Magda looks very pleased with the new WISE publicity leaflets!

We were really pleased to get so many new members, including staff, undergraduates and postgraduates.

Men were also keen to sign up to the WISE@QMUL membership list.

Our adviser from the Learning Institute, Dr Ian Forristal, popped round to say hello and admire the new WISE@QMUL publicity material.

WISE@QMUL is back!

After more than eight months of inactivity, WISE@QMUL finally comes back to life with a new look and new members on board!

This week, 6th-8th March, 12-2 pm, we will be in the Library Square of Mile End campus promoting the society’s activities. Please come along to find out about our planned seminars and social events.

Our very first event is happening on 22nd March, 4-6 pm at Room 3.20, Arts Two. For more details, see the flyer below:

Click to see full size

23rd Feb 2011: Joint outing to Science Museum

WISE@QMUL and the QMUL IEEE Student Branch are holding a joint event and are going to the Science Museum Late this Wednesday, 23rd February 2011.

The theme of this month’s Science Museum Late is “The Science of Happiness”. You can select a variety of events including Silent Disco, Cockroach Tour, Launchpad gallery etc. For further details, please visit the Science Museum website. There will also an optional social event afterwards if you want to hang out with people after the visit.

The IEEE Student Branch will pay for your trip expense (up to £5) if you become a IEEE student member (between 14th and 22nd February) and go for this visit. If you wonder what you can benefit you can by becoming a member, you can check their website for a detailed explanation.

We will head to the Science Museum at about 6 pm on 23rd February. Email peggie.zhang [at] ieee.org or xian.zhang [at] eecs.qmul.ac.uk to register.

16th Jul 2009: Speed researching

On Thursday 16th July at 4:30 pm in the SCR Bar join us for some “Speed Researching”.

Following the same format as “Speed Dating”, present your research to other researchers in S&E during a series of one to one 3-minute meetings.

  • Strengthen your presentation and networking skills
  • Get to know other PhD students and researchers at QMUL
  • Have fun while doing it!