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  • Writer's pictureAdam Hayward

BAVP Early-Career Researcher Meeting Careers Discussion

At this year’s BAVP ECR meeting, we hosted an online careers discussion with Adam Hayward (Moredun Research Institute), Roz Laing (University of Glasgow), Paul McVeigh (Queen’s University Belfast) and Caroline Millins (University of Liverpool). The panel began by each sharing their career trajectory before attendees asked questions to stimulate discussion.

Roz presented a schematic which showed an “ideal” career trajectory, and it’s fair to say that none of the panellists’ careers followed the smooth path from PhD, to post-doc, to fellowship, to tenure, with Nature papers scattered liberally throughout! The panellists’ backgrounds included evolutionary biology, veterinary practice and molecular biology, with varying amounts of time spent in post-doctoral research before gaining some degree of independence with fellowships or lectureships.

We then moved on to the Q&A.

How important is outreach and how do I gain experience?

  • Suggestions included Pint of Science, Soapbox Science and I’m a Scientist Get Me Out of Here, as well as getting in touch with local interest groups, schools, and your institutions outreach organization (they will have one!)

  • Panel members also noted that while outreach is seen as important, a cynic (i.e. all of them!) would say that outreach barely comes up in fellowship or lectureship interviews…

How important are high-impact publications?

Did any of you have a back-up plan if science didn’t work out?

If you’re going to move to a job in industry, is it possible to move back into academia?

How do you identify a supportive research supervisor or group?

How do you get away from the incompatibility of academia with starting a family?

How do you find a niche in your field or department, especially if you’re not able to move far?

Overall, our top ten tips are:

  1. Work with people who provide you with opportunities to develop your research, including pursuit of outside projects and funding.

  2. Moving research institutes can be good but is not essential. If your current institution is the best place for your research, justifying the decision to stay is easy!

  3. If you want a lectureship, don’t be afraid to apply – and ask colleagues for teaching experience

  4. Gain experience of committees or administration

  5. Publish your work – but having papers in reputable journals looks good

  6. Amassing loads of funding isn’t necessary at the early-career stage – but having credible fundable ideas is

  7. A non-linear career path can enable your outlook and ideas to broaden and provide advantages and opportunities in the long term

  8. A career in academia doesn’t need you to live and breathe your work

  9. A science degree, PhD or post-doc provide a huge number of transferable skills

  10. Finally, have fun and do things that make you happy!

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