By Jonathan Li, PhD Student, Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction
Hi, I’m Jonathan. I’m a 3rd year PhD student studying signalling pathways in the myometrium. I presented my research at the Rising Scientist Day hosted by Faculty of Medicine. It is a one day conference that allows PhD students from multiple backgrounds to present their work. Usually, the symposium offers a great chance to network with other PhD students and to find out what their research is all about. This year, due to COVID-19, the format was slightly different than previous years, where everything was done remotely. Nonetheless, the event was still a great success.
The day started off with a number of 3 minute thesis talks, then this was followed by intermissions and lunch breaks where we could view the posters. Given the challenges of hosting a symposium remotely, the day went very smoothly with only a few technical hitches due to the overwhelming number of people wanting to listen in on the talks. One of the advantages of having a remote symposium is that students who are not based in London can attend these events, where we had one speaker dial in from South East Asia!
The remote nature of the symposium meant that a poster session was not possible. However, the posters were consolidated into one website that was very accessible. Whilst lacking the benefits of having a scientist explaining their work in person. The posters were submitted along with a 1 minute recording. One of the challenges is how do you explain your research in such a short amount of time without being there in person. Suffice to say the approaches of how to tackle this problem were varied, where some chose to adopt QR codes, some used hyper-links. The sheer amount of thought and consideration to these limitations, coupled with the high quality of research in these posters made it feel like I was attending an international conference.
The sheer variety of fields was also very eye opening, ranging from preterm labour (my research focus) to things like embryonic stem cells or avian influenza viral research. As a final year PhD student, I can say from personal experience it is very easy to focus on your own project, as the deadlines mount and you try to complete experiments or gather more data. The symposium provides an excellent chance to find out about other projects ongoing at Imperial.
Overall, the day was a wonderful experience and having the chance to see the excellent research that is being carried out by my peers makes for a nice break from the routine of lab work. Whilst the symposium lacks the in-person touch this year, I’m looking forward to similar future events when COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed. I would highly recommend PhD students to submit their work if they have the chance next year.
Many thanks to the staff members who helped organise the event.