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The second wedding of the year took us back to gorgeous Barcelona and what a fantastic evening it was, spent with special friends. Just a fleeting visit so no time for running on this occasions but we did sneak in a stroll down Barceloneta beach before flying home. Looking up towards the big fish, I realised what a long but exciting time it has been since my last blog.
I can now share my good news… Following on from my last blog, I have worked out my last week as a post-doctoral scientist and I no longer wear a white coat. I have diversified, am playing to my strengths, using my expertise and am working in a great team striving to drive science forward in more ways than I dreamed possible as an academic scientist…and its only my 3rd week!
How did I get myself here though? Well, after years of developing my skills as an endocrine scientist, volunteering and networking with several learned societies, passing my project management qualifications, I was actually brushed by a stroke of fate over Christmas, whereby a friend (who incidentally I had met through scientific networking) pointed me to a job advertised at the University of Birmingham. One application, an interview later and I was offered the job as Senior Research Facilitator for the School of Clinical and Experimental Science which is one of 4 schools within the College of Medical and Dental Sciences at the University of Birmingham. I am now part of a great team of facilitators and administrators working on research development within the Research and Knowledge Transfer Office at the Medical School.
What is the role of the research facilitator? A very varied and sometimes high paced one! I am still learning the ropes but what I hope to offer…
- To contribute to identify and being successful in bidding for a great diversity of funding sources such as innovative partnerships with national and international public, commercial and charitable bodies, compensating for reductions in funding council budgets. (“Enhancing the research power” at the University of Birmingham)
- To establish and maintain a network of contacts to facilitate key functions including:
- Responsibility for establishing, implementing and developing relevant R&KT strategy
- Provide dedicated support to ensure research capabilities are effectively identified, promoted and supported
- To maintain oversight of the pre- and post-award processes
- Provide strategic input to R&KT support.
So, I will reiterate the statement in my previous blog post… There is no shame in deciding not to become a group leader, although I have to be honest here, no matter how successful you become in your chosen career, some will still insist there is…ignore them. You are going places, some of us are more effective utilising our academic training in other ways. You will drive science forward, even without a white coat! Just remember though, the moral of this story is to network, network, network. More on this tricky topic and my big move to Birmingham next time.
P.P.S For those of you interesting in or considering a move into research management/administration, there is a professional body (ARMA) offering comprehensive support, in the form of working groups, training days and a conference.
There comes a time when many senior academic post-doctoral scientists begin to imagine a life away from what they trained to do and love the most; working in the lab, swapping Western blots and cell culture for teaching and administration, or indeed a life outside academia. The decision of what to do after a second post-doc is not one to ever be taken lightly. However, it seems that more and more these days, the decision of what to do next may not be quite as much in the scientists hands as it once were.
So, with the call for funding deadline in the first week of January we were all once again back in the thrust of it straight away in 2014, developing our ideas, collaborating and writing our best proposals in order to keep our projects funded. As I approach the end of my current contract, I start to imagine life after being a post-doc. You see, one does not become a ‘career post-doc’. It is a time for moving along or upwards and therefore finishing experiments and writing manuscripts and thinking of what will be next.
At the end of 2013, it was great news to hear that my brother-in-law was getting married, giving us the excuse to escape to Spain! After a road trip to Zaragoza to make an honest man of Ari, we made our way back for a few days break in Barcelona. I love running on holiday, taking a chance early in the mornings to explore new cities and if there is a sea, I make it a priority to take a long run on the beach. ‘Great thinking time’. This trip was no exception. On went the trainers, grabbed the map and down to the sea I ran. The weather was perfect and the view outstanding. As I ran I saw the ‘big fish’ in the distance. Once past the fish I found myself running past Barcelona Biomedical Research Park. The facilities look amazing. However, science is truly international, as is the struggle for funding. I was therefore in the knowledge there would be more people in the same position as myself inside that building.
Fortunately now though there has been much work into informing and providing training for researchers to carve out a ‘non-traditional’ scientific career and not before time. Many of us have developed into fantastic project managers as a result of our post-doctoral training years. You will read many a blog on twitter about the dearth of funding for researchers all over the world combined with an excess of scientists at all levels for a dwindling number of positions available. I think we all need to diversify and play to our strengths, collaborate and work together to form teams, be that in the lab or outside of it to target proposals and fund the best science possible. There should be no shame in deciding not to become a group leader. Many of us would be far more effective utilising our skills in other ways. Working towards a more effective way of conducting science, and very topically making sure science that has been conducted is not lost in the ether.
So, tomorrow I head back to the lab, not with a heavy heart, but excitement, there are many ways in which to drive science forward even if you no longer wear a white coat!
Welcome to my new blog.
2013 was a good year!
Science wise I won a poster prize at BES 2013, I gave two oral communications at International conferences (SRF 2013 and SSR 2013) and was awarded an Early Career Grant from the Society for Endocrinology.
This year I also qualified as a project manager (PRINCE2 practitioner) which is something I had wanted to do for a while. I had fun studying again at Westminster Business School. Maybe in another life I would have taken an MBA?!
I travelled near and far: Harrogate, Cambridge, Yorkshire (Hebden Bridge, Haworth, Halifax, Rippon, Wakefield), Gran Canaria and Montreal, Canada.
I ran another marathon and a few races in between and I learn’t how to use clipless pedals on my new racing bike – no mean feat let me tell you!
So, here’s to a great 2014.