From PhD to PI: Sarah Bohndiek, Group Leader Department of Physics, University of Cambridge and Cancer Research UK, Cambridge Institute.

U2FsdHlJbWFnZU5hbWUxMzgwODIyNzQz-g3ySNzctaW1hZ2U=Sarah has a joint appointment in which she initially develops and validates new imaging technologies. She then combines these new techniques with research into cancer therapy, with the aim of achieving a better understanding of cancer therapy response and drug resistance.

PhD students and post-doctoral staff often worry about the insecurity and competitiveness of their early careers but Sarah regards this as a positive thing. She believes the opportunities should be embraced and is a strong advocate of the ability to quickly understand and get to grips with a new discipline that a PhD provides.  Reassuringly, she says, after switching between disciplines, she has been supported in her learning by her advisers and not been put under pressure to produce immediate results.

However, she does have a clear idea of what motivates her (which is the desire to develop clinical applications to improve the health of cancer patients) and this is the thread that joins up all the different parts of her career so far. Alongside this she is driven by her strong curiosity which has frequently led her to doing things she never thought she would. Research into the careers of PIs shows that this strong sense of purpose and self-awareness is significant factor in succeeding in the role (see here: http://www.topik.ie/)

The recruitment process for a post-doctoral position in her lab is very thorough. It starts with extremely wide advertising through formal and informal channels (social media, email and so on). She values ResearchGate as a particularly effective tool. She will ask for a CV and cover letter and stresses the importance of clear, grammatically correct and perfectly spelled applications with an attractive, easy to read layout. This helps spot people who are committed, enthusiastic, have an eye for detail and can communicate effectively in writing.

She will normally long-list about ten candidates who are invited to a thirty minute Skype discussion. Half of this will be the candidate’s presentation (with slides) and then a brief discussion about the presentation. Sarah sticks to time and looks out for candidates who follow her brief carefully and who provide attractive, easy to follow presentations. She also very much appreciates candidates who provide the slides in advance and offer alternative means of contact in case Skype or the internet aren’t working well.  Doing this reinforces the impression of commitment, attention to detail, communication and thoughtfulness that are essential to collaborative research careers.

She will then invite three of the candidates to a full day of selection processes. This consists of a thirty minute lecture followed by a one hour discussion of the lecture, a tour of the lab and one-to-one sessions with lab colleagues. The day is completed by a one hour interview with Sarah and a social, informal dinner. The whole process requires an overnight stay, usually.

When she’s recruiting for her team Sarah is most impressed by candidates who ask more questions than they are asked and who have obviously done their research and preparation. She particularly looks for PhDs who have at least one first author paper, who have been engaged in outreach and who have participated in committees as well as gained technical skills in their research. It can be helpful if you have won awards but it isn’t essential.

Asked for her single top-tip, Sarah says that demonstrable attention to detail is what matters most to her.

I also had the chance to speak to Michal Tomaszewski a PhD student and Joanna Brunker and Jonghee Yoon, post-doctoral researchers at the lab.  They agreed that a full understanding of the organisation you are applying for is essential and that it is necessary to send a tailored application that shows how you have understood it. This understanding needs to be demonstrated throughout the interview process as well. The work of the lab is strongly interdisciplinary and all have brought good experience from other fields to their current research (including some time in banking and finance in the case of Michal). They’ve also showed how their careers so far align with the requirements of their current research.All stressed the importance of adaptability and flexibility and the benefits of studying in many fields.

Joanna entered the lab by an alternative route, having gained a fellowship which gave her a degree of choice over where she carried out her research and chose the CRUK lab because of the research it was conducting and the shared experience (with Sarah) of researching at University College London. Joanna also stressed how important it is to take the advice of supervisors while studying for your PhD, to help avoid being distracted by issues that may not be important to your future.

Acknowledgements: Many thanks to Sarah Bohndiek, Michal Tomaszewski, Joanna Brunker and Jonghee Yoon for their time and generosity in talking to me and sharing so much helpful information.

Donald Lush, Careers Consultant for PhDs

 

The Brilliant Club

The Brilliant Club is an award winning charity that recruits, trains and places doctoral and post-doctoral researchers in low participation schools to deliver programmes of university-style tutorials to small groups of high performing pupils.

During their autumn placements, the Brilliant Club’s PhD Tutors will work with twelve high-performing 10-13 year old pupils, delivering a series of six tutorials that takes them beyond the curriculum and helps them to develop the knowledge, skills and ambition necessary to secure places at top universities. Successful candidates typically deliver a pre-designed course and modify it to include aspects of their own research interests. Courses include ‘Evolution’, ’Turning Points in English History’ and ‘Could the stars float in the bath?’

The training programme is delivered by qualified teachers and focuses on learning theory and teaching technique. The first tutorial takes place at the launch trips, where tutors accompany pupils on a visit to a highly-selective university. The in-school tutorials are each one hour long, and pupils complete the programme with an extended assignment which tutors mark before delivering the final tutorial.

Tutors are paid £450 for a single placement, and there are opportunities to take part in more than one placement in the autumn and over the following terms with older pupils.

If you would like to apply to work as a Brilliant Club tutor, please fill in the online application form here

Please note that our final assessment centres for our autumn placements are in early October; any applications after that date will automatically be considered for our Spring placements with Year 9/10 pupils.

To find out more, have a look at our Tutor Brochure, or send an email toapply@thebrilliantclub.org

Fully-funded places offered for the Cumberland Lodge Conference, Windsor

‘Life beyond the PhD': an interdisciplinary residential conference at Cumberland Lodge, Windsor 26-29 August 2014

Cumberland Lodge

Cumberland Lodge, which is an educational charity, is organising a residential conference to give postgraduates and post docs from all disciplines an opportunity to exchange ideas, practices, experiences and aspirations. All participants will be expected to give a 10 minute presentation on their research pitched at non-specialists.

This conference offers postgraduate students and post docs the opportunity to explain to peers from other disciplines why their research matters, while also hearing from leading figures in academia and outside explain how research has changed their lives.

The Graduate School is able to fully-fund two places for PhD students and two places for Post Docs at this conference. If you are interested in attending, please send in a brief justification (200 words maximum) for your proposed attendance to the Director of the Graduate School, by email at vaughan.robinson@kcl.ac.uk, with the subject title ‘Cumberland Lodge’, by the deadline of 5pm on 23 MAY 2014. The justification should explain how you think you would benefit from attending the conference and presenting a paper.

98% of attendees at previous conferences were either satisfied or very satisfied and 98% would recommend the event.

Further details of the event, which takes place in a beautiful residential conference centre within Windsor Great Park, can be found at www.cumberlandlodge.ac.uk

The conference fee covers all accommodation (in shared rooms) and the Graduate School will also cover reasonable travel expenses from London on presentation of receipts after the event.

Creativeworks & London Creative Digital Fusion – Researcher in Residence Scheme

creativeworksldnfusionPlacements in creative businesses are available to PhD students and early career researchers.

Creativeworks London’s Knowledge Exchange team facilitate a careful match for a Doctoral student or early career academic researcher with an appropriate company for a three to four month period. Businesses will be small or medium sized enterprises (SMEs) based in London.

Funding of £5000 allows the PhD student to interrupt or extend their study for up to four months or is a stipend for the early career academic researcher. The funding is paid to the relevant University to support the PhD or early career academic researcher undertaking the project over the allotted time frame.

The application form and information about the projects on offer is available here. For information about the process, please read the guidance document. Submit your completed form to Yvonne Castle, Administrator at Cultural Institute at King’s (yvonne.castle@kcl.ac.uk) by Monday 10 February 2014.

‘How to get Published’ for Early Career Researchers with Palgrave Macmillan

The Culture Capital Exchange has organised an Early Career Network event called ‘How to Get Published’ in collaboration with Palgrave Macmillan. This event is for TCCE’s member universities which includes King’s.

Representatives from Palgrave will give a practical overview of the range of options for getting your research published and offer advice around approaching a publisher and pitching your ideas. Participants will also have the opportunity to have individual conversations with editors from publications covering a range of disciplines (within Humanities and Social Sciences) to either pitch ideas, or ask more detailed questions.

  • Date: Thursday 20 February 2014
  • Time: 6pm – 9pm, including networking drinks
  • Location: Palgrave Macmillan, The Stables, 2 Trematon Walk, Wharfdale Road, London N1 9SB

Tickets are free but booking is essential: http://www.theculturecapitalexchange.co.uk/2014/01/09/how-to-get-published-in-collaboration-with-palgrave-macmillan/

The Brilliant Club

Introduction to The Brilliant Club: A meaningful, well-paid teaching opportunity for researchers at KCL in 2013/14

The Brilliant Club

The Brilliant Club is an award-winning charity that recruits, trains and pays doctoral and post-doctoral researchers to deliver programmes of university-style teaching to small tutorial groups of high-performing pupils in schools that serve communities with a low-participation rate in higher education.

Over the course of the last academic year we have placed over 150 researchers in low participation schools in London, the South East and the West Midlands, where they have worked with around 3000 pupils. We are now recruiting tutors for the academic year 2013/14 when we will run an individual placement in each term, where tutors will work with a different age group. The completion of three placements (these do not need to be delivered consecutively, or in the same academic year) will lead to researchers becoming Advanced Skills Tutors, but tutors can deliver as little as one placement.

We will be holding information events to introduce The Brilliant Club at KCL on the following dates:

  • Monday 30th September 2013, Room F-WB Classroom 3.52, 3rd Floor, Franklin-Wilkins Building, Waterloo Campus at 2pm – 3pm
  • Monday 6th January 2014, Room F-WB Classroom G.79, Ground Floor, Franklin-Wilkins Building, Waterloo Campus at 10.30am – 11.30am
  • Thursday 27th March 2014, Room F-WB Classroom 1.70, 1st Floor, Franklin-Wilkins Building, Waterloo Campus at 11am – 12pm

If you would like to find out more, please just turn up! You do not need to book a place.

In addition to earning up to £1500 a year, successful candidates will gain valuable teaching experience, enhance their knowledge of the UK education system and develop a programme of tutorials based on their own research and the opportunity to disseminate it to a non-expert audience (at KS4 and KS5). Last year’s programmes varied from ‘Curing Cancer with Sound Bullets’ to ‘Charles Dickens and the Victorian Ghost Story’. They will also join a cohort of like-minded researchers who are interested in widening access to highly-selective universities.

To apply to be a Brilliant Club tutor please find further information and an application form on our website, www.thebrilliantclub.org, and send the completed form with a copy of your CV to Dr Mary Henes at apply@thebrilliantclub.org.

Understanding Uncertainty in Environmental Modelling

UncertaintyEnvModelling

Workshop for early-career researchers (PhD students, postdocs) in environmental modelling and simulation disciplines.

This workshop presents an overview of key stages in the modelling process: development, evaluation, practical use, and communication of results. Interactive discussion sessions and exercises will help participants explore concepts presented in the lectures and relate these to their own research. Themes include:

• Evaluating model performance;
• Statistical inference from ensembles of models;
• Why good statistics is not enough;
• What do decision-­‐makers want? What can environmental modellers provide?
• Effective dissemination of uncertain forecasts.

Speakers include: Leonard Smith, David Stainforth, Emma Suckling, Erica Thompson, Elizabeth Stephens (Reading), Lindsay Lee (Leeds).

See website for further details and to apply for a place: http://www.lse.ac.uk/CATS/Events/NERC-Understanding-Uncertainty-in-Environmental-Modelling.aspx

Deadline for applications: November 15th 2013

This workshop is part of the NERC Postgraduate and Professional Skills Development Programme. NERC-­funded applicants will be given priority, but the workshop is open (and free) to all.

Partnership Grants for Research Visits 2013-14

Partnership Grant will once again be available during the 2013-14 academic year and offer opportunities for PhD and postdoctoral researchers to undertake a short period of research or work on a particular project that helps sustain and develop partnerships with the international universities that are Strategic Partners of the College. The level of funding that will be awarded is designed to cover travel costs and make a contribution toward subsistence at the partner institution. It is anticipated that no award will be for more than £2,000.

For information on how to apply, what money is available and to find out if you are eligible for the Partnership Grant, visit www.kcl.ac.uk/study/abroad/discover/money/partnergrant.aspx

For further information on the Strategic Partners, visit www.kcl.ac.uk/aboutkings/worldwide/partners/index.aspx

Applications can be submitted throughout the year and will be reviewed on a quarterly basis. The remaining 2014 deadlines are now confirmed as 1st April, 1st July and 7th October.

King’s College London shortlisted for the Times Higher Education Awards 2013

THEA13 shortlistNow in their ninth year, the Times Higher Education Awards represent a unique and high-profile opportunity to celebrate the excellence and amazing achievements of UK higher education institutions.

The shortlisted candidates for the Times Higher Education Awards 2013 have now been unveiled and we are delighted that King’s College London has been shortlisted for a THE Award in the ‘Outstanding Support for Early Career Researchers’ category.

The project shortlisted is entitled “Train the Trainers – developing the teaching and training skills of postdoctoral researchers” and aims to harness the skills and experience of our postdoc community by training and mentoring them to deliver personal and professional skills development sessions to PhD students. The project also aims to enhance the career prospects of our postdocs by enabling them to develop teaching and training skills which are necessary for progression into an academic career. The project runs annually and there will be an opportunity for most postdocs to be trained in Spring 2014.

This project is part of the portfolio of work done by the Researcher Development Unit based in the Graduate School at King’s. The Researcher Development Unit’s mission is to provide high quality personal, professional and career development for all researchers at King’s, in line with the policies from funders, the QAA and the Concordat for the Career Development of Researchers. The work done by the RDU with post-docs has also been recognised by the award of the HR Excellence in Research badge.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on 28 November 2013.

http://www.the-awards.co.uk/the2013/shortlist

How to get your Graduate School sponsored place at this year’s NatureJobs Careers Expo

As we mentioned in our post on the 22nd of August the Graduate School will be sponsoring 60 places worth £50 for King’s research staff and PhD students to attend the NatureJobs Career Expo for FREE! The event takes place on Thursday, 19th September 2013 at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London.

In order to be eligible for one of the sponsored conference tickets, you must attend the NatureJobs Careers Expo Preparation Webinar – see below for full details, including how to register.  The webinar will cover a range of topics, including details of how to get one of the sponsored tickets.  Sponsored tickets are strictly limited to 60 and will be made available on a first-come-first-served basis to those researchers who have viewed the webinar and followed the simple registration procedure described.

Participation in the NJCE preparation webinar is a condition of receiving a sponsored ticket.

The Graduate School has organised a preparation webinar on Tuesday, 10th September, 10:00 – 11:00 am for King’s researchers who would like to attend the NatureJobs Careers Expo, with advice on how to get the most out of the Careers Expo, including:

  • Getting the best from the exhibition – how best to present yourself to potential employers and how to prepare your CV.
  • Getting the best from the conference – how the conference works and choosing your sessions wisely.
  • Getting a sponsored ticket for the conference – details of how to get one of the 60 sponsored tickets.

Speakers include Kate Murray, Careers Adviser for postgraduate research students and research staff at KCL and Peter Crook from NatureJobs.

To register for the webinar please go to: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1647962674164681984  Webinar ID: 153-641-323

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Please note that you will need to be able to hear the webinar using speakers or headphones, you will not be able to speak so you will not need a microphone/ telephone.  You will be able to interact with the speakers and ask questions by typing your questions/ comments using the messaging feature.

If you are unable to attend at this time, a recorded version of the webinar will be available to view on KEATS. The recording will be available after the webinar has been run and will be accessible through KEATS on the following page: http://keats.kcl.ac.uk/mod/page/view.php?id=502632

If you are unable to get one of the sponsored tickets, any King’s researcher can use the discount code “KCL131D” when prompted during the registration process to get your tickets for £40 instead of £50: http://www.nature.com/natureconferences/njce2013/registration.html