On Friday June 30th, Helen Brown (Chair), Amiee Allen (Undergraduate) and I headed to the University of Leeds for the first in a series of three Summer Roadshows, designed and organised by the Microbiology Society ECM Forum Exec Committee. We hoped to use them as an opportunity for early career researchers to hear a couple of talks from established scientists further along in their career and extend their networks in an informal and fun setting. With snacks.
It was surprisingly simple to book speakers for the two slots; I had been a little concerned that we might be short of takers due to this being the inaugural event but that was not the case at all. Professor Nicola Stonehouse agreed immediately to talk about her impressive career and role as a senior Society member. Dr Roland Remenyi was also happy to give a presentation on his journey to where he is now, as a postdoc at Leeds considering a move to Asia.
I arrived slightly late after finishing at the Museum and also getting very lost around the university (until a kind man took pity on me and pointed me in the right direction). I was sad to miss a lot of Nic’s talk but the feedback from it was really positive and she gave some excellent advice at the end, including the importance of mentors in academia. Roland’s presentation was one of the snazziest I’ve ever seen (I collared him afterwards, Prezi is the way to go apparently!) and he delivered some really thought-provoking insight into the possible transitions between academia and industry. He described how it may be simple to change your job role, or your base, but to switch both is challenging. He also advised thinking about these things early on. It all makes perfect sense but I had not thought about it from the angle before. It gave me a lot of food for thought as I consider what my next steps will be.
Following the two talks (about 15 minutes each) there was the chance for everyone to chat and ask questions over beer, wine and nibbles. It was great to speak to new people, find out about their interests and, importantly, discover what their ‘if my science career fails’ fallback is. One postdoc said they would be a gardener. Personally, I quite fancy working in a little bookshop.
The remaining ECM Forum Roadshows are at the University of Glasgow (21st July) and the University of Birmingham (28th July). More information and the link to register interest can be found on the Microbiology Society website.