We ran another successful postgraduate and postdoctoral careers session during this year’s postgraduate conference on 19 March. Unfortunately two of our (male) speakers had to cancel at the last minute, but our remaining three speakers did an excellent job:
Chance favours the prepared mind: Careers in and from Biology
Karen McGregor, University of St Andrews
PhD – Microbiology (University of Western Australia)
Current – Equality and Diversity Awards Adviser at the University of St Andrews
Public Engagement with Research – career boost, sanity mode and exit strategy
Alina Loth, University of St Andrews
PhD – Marine Biology (University of St Andrews)
Current – Public Engagement Officer for Science at the University of St Andrews
Enjoy the Journey
Sara Rankin, Imperial College London
PhD – Pharmacology (Kings College, London)
Current – Professor of Leukocyte and Stem Cell Biology at Imperial College London
Speakers showed the multitude of career paths available from a Biology PhD or postdoc. Feedback for the session was positive with several comments such as “interesting finding out different career paths that speakers have taken”, “I honestly think this session was very well organised and would love to see a similar session next year”, “Nice to have a reality check like this once in a while! Great to have some context and “zoom out”.”
This year, speakers also recommended various web-based resources for students/post-docs to look at such as:
Prof. Sara Rankin from Imperial College London delivered a lecture on ‘Why higher education needs to increase awareness of neurodiversity’ on 20 March 2019. This was hosted by the Biology Equality and Diversity committee, and organised by postgraduate student member Jessica Haghkerdar.
Prof. Sara Rankin is a Professor of Leukocyte and Stem Cell Biology at Imperial College London. She is a world leader in the field of regenerative pharmacology- inventing drugs to help the body repair itself after injury. She is lead for Athena for the National Heart and Lung Institute and chairs the Faculty of Medicine’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion committee. In 2016 she was awarded the Imperial College Medal for outstanding service to the College and innovation in research and public engagement.
Prof Sara Rankin is dyslexic and dyspraxic and in recent years has been working on a project, 2eMPower, to make STEM education (in schools and HE) accessible for students with specific learning disabilities (dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD and autism). She trained as a dyslexia champion (accredited by the British Dyslexia Association) and in this role considers how employers and managers can create a working environment that supports neurodiverse staff and gets the best out of them.
The lecture explained the strengths and weaknesses associated with being neurodiverse and how this affects student learning and staff in the workplace. She described why she thinks being dyslexic makes her an excellent scientist and how businesses are now recognising the value of neurodiversity in the workplace. She discussed her experiences of establishing 2eMPOwerUK to develop and deliver STEM outreach programmes for high ability students with learning differences and how she is making teaching at Imperial accessible to all students.
The lecture can be viewed in full here.
Our Q&A event for early-careers researchers, following the International Day of Women and Girls in Science public lecture, was widely appreciated by the range of students and postdoctoral researchers who attended. The event was led by Prof. Kevin Laland, and questions were directed to Prof. Terrie Williams and Prof. Sascha Hooker. Some of the comments received from the participants are shown below.
“Really interesting panel. Good advice given”, male postgraduate taught student
“Absolutely fantastic”, female postgraduate research student
“Having two perspectives is really useful” female postgraduate research student
“Thank you so very much for organising this event! I learned a lot, and got a lot of ideas for my future! Thank you!”, female postgraduate research student
On 5 February 2019, we celebrated the International Day of Women and Girls in Science with a public lecture from invited speaker Professor Terrie Williams. The lecture ‘Narwhal Nights: Discoveries Along The Scientific Road Less Travelled’ was a free event. Professor Lorna Milne, Master of the United College, introduced Professor Williams and the importance of such events at the University of St Andrews. Professor Clare Peddie, Head of the School of Biology, closed the event. The lecture was very well attended by members of the public, University staff and students, as well as pupils from St Leonards School and Waid Academy. Secondary school students met with Professor Williams for a ‘meet and greet’ lunch before the lecture, and early career researchers from across the University science schools participated in an informal careers in science Q&A after the lecture. We received extremely positive feedback (via feedback forms and comments after the event), for example:
“Amazing and inspirational talk. Wonderful to have these open to the wider community!”
“So enjoyable and inspiring to hear someone so passionate and knowledgeable.”
“Very inspiring lady, talk and message. Would love more of these talks :)”
The lecture can be viewed below.
Professor Williams designed and produced stunning science journals that were gifted to all lecture attendees, in addition to a ‘Careers in Biology’ bookmark and an eco-pen.
Many thanks to Katrina Falkenberg for organising the event, to Professor Terrie Williams for her inspiring talk, to Professor Lorna Milne and Professor Clare Peddie for introducing and closing the lecture, and to the volunteers who collected and processed the feedback forms. We look forward to next year’s lecture!
During the International Day of Women and Girls in Science lecture today the Biology Equality and Diversity Committee will be distributing bookmarks highlighting a new webpage discussing some of the careers options for school students, undergraduates, and postgraduates studying biology. The webpage has been designed by E&D Committee members, in conjunction with others in the School/University who have experience of offering career advice. In addition we have included a short section highlighting the work of the E&D committee and a ‘biology for all’ section.
The webpage can be found here or at the short link www.st-andrews.ac.uk/go/biocareers.
The International Day of Women and Girls in Science will be marked by a public lecture by Professor Terrie Williams:
Narwhal Nights: Discoveries Along The Scientific Road Less Travelled
Tuesday 5th February 2019, 1pm at the Byre Theatre. More details can be found here.
Unfortunately tickets for the event sold out quickly, but if you don’t already have a ticket, you can still watch the lecture as it will be live streamed online.
Alternatively you can drop by the Byre Theatre box office five minutes before the lecture to claim any uncollected tickets.
Please note any unclaimed tickets will be released if they are not collected within five minutes of the start time. If you have a ticket but won’t be able to use it, please return it to the Byre Theatre so someone else can attend.
A video of the lecture will be available on the BE&D website after the event.
Professor Sascha Hooker joined in the graduation celebrations on Thursday 6 December when she was appointed to the position of professor alongside other colleagues from across the University. As is customary, new professors are presented with a book of their choice by the Principal on receiving their professorship. Sascha selected Life and Letters of Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker O.M., G.C.S.I. Volume 1 and 2.
Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker (1817–1911) was one of the most eminent botanists of the later 19th century, a close friend of Charles Darwin and great great grandfather to Professor Hooker.
Sascha, who reduced her hours to work part-time 14 years ago, is also notable for being the first half-time academic at the University to be promoted to professor.
Sascha led the Biology E&D committee to achieve their Athena SWAN award in 2018, and is a role model to many in the School of how to manage time to balance a successful career with a busy home life.
One of our Athena SWAN silver award action points was to ensure there were recent successful grant exemplars online to help colleagues with their applications. These are now available on bioInternal.
The academic promotions workshop took place on the 4th December 2018 in the BMS lecture theatre. There were presentations from Mhairi Stewart (Head of HR) and Malcolm White laying out the structure of the promotions procedure, how it is viewed centrally by the University and some of the particularities specific to Biology. It was an informal event that resulted in lots of interaction and audience participation – both from people asking questions and others sharing their personal experiences.
In total 22 academics attended and feedback was generally positive with 77% of attendees scoring the event a 4/5 or higher. The most common feedback comment was that people wanted more detail and examples of the steps and forms of the promotions process, which we will incorporate into future events.
The 2019 round of promotions has now been launched.