Every three years, PhD students from The Francis Crick Institute and Imperial College hold a symposium dedicated to enabling students from both institutions to share their research through posters and talks in a supportive environment. Obviously, this year had to be a little different. The event had to held virtually as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic which posed new challenges. A key objective of this event is the provide a platform for graduate students from a range of scientific backgrounds to network and work together, something we can all agree is much more challenging behind a computer screen!
We decided that alongside using Zoom for the talks we would use Gather.Town
by Aina Roca Barceló
On the 29th of January 2020, a group of students and staff members from Imperial College London gathered with one objective: to identify the barriers to a more sustainable workspace. This was part of the 1st MRC Centre for Environment and Health’s Sustainability Workshop, organised by the MRC Researchers Society’s co-chair Aina Roca Barceló (1st year President PhD Scholar), supported by the MRC Centre for Environment and Health, within the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Department (EBS), represented by Drs Fred Piel and Eduardo Seleiro. This was kindly funded by the Graduate School’s Research Community Fund.
My name is Niamh Sayers and I’m a third year PhD student based at Hammersmith Hospital in the Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction, and also a Student Rep for this cohort. As I am nearing the end of my PhD (as are many of the friends I started with) I realised we may all be looking for things we want to do after our PhD, therefore I decided to organise this ‘Careers Talk with a Difference…’. We attend many scientific talks during our PhDs, from Work in Progress’ to conference seminars, but I realised we do not have access to many talks outside of the realms of science.
On 28th February, the researchers from the Geotechnics Section explored some of London’s hidden tunnels in a fascinating tour run by the London Transport Museum. With the financial support from the Graduate School cohort building fund, we were able to enjoy this social event and get closer as a group while also learning more about the tunnels that many of us study as part of our research projects.
On Friday afternoon, we all made our way to Euston station and joined the brilliant team from ‘Hidden London’ who first gave us a presentation on the history of the London Underground. Once we all had our high-vis jackets on, we were led down into the tunnels, past the busy crowds of commuters into the parts of the station that are normally hidden from the public.
On Saturday 29th February 2020, the Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) held its second annual Graduate Students’ ball, an event which aims to bring together postgraduate students from across each campus, each department and either research or taught Masters’ or PhD courses for a night of fun, and relaxed socialising. The Leap Year Ball was held at the Under the Bridge venue in Fulham and was a roaring success for both the GSU organising committee and attendees alike.
The first of these GSU Postgraduate Balls’ ran last year and was well-received, with just under three-hundred students attending. This year, the GSU team were more ambitious.
After weeks of online SuperTuxKart championships, it was time for the PhD members of the SPIKE research group to race in real life. On Sunday, 8 March, 2020 (just before a pandemic took over the world), SPIKE members enjoyed an eventful evening of go karting followed by a group dinner.
The evening was a chance to help foster the team spirit of the research group, and enable collaboration that goes beyond the day to day activities of each member’s individual research journey. As one PhD student put it:
“Karting was an unequalled experience: the wind on my face, the speed making the kart almost fly… It would have been that, if I had not worn a helmet, and I had not driven as slow as a stroll in the park (cit.).
In their effort to establish an Early Career Research (ECR) community for all malaria researchers based at London research institutes, PhD students organized a launch event at the Crick Institute to bring everyone together. Research assistants, research technicians, PhD students and junior postdocs who work under either computational or laboratory settings were encouraged to interact with researchers outside their own social/departmental circles and suggest their ideas about the future of this network. None missed the chance to also show-off their ‘Knowles-it-all’ expertise on a malaria-based pub quiz, while enjoying nibbles and drinks.
Over 50 people from four different London-based institutes registered for the event, with a turnout of 30.
Usually a medical tool used to check your ear canal, Otoscope is now also the name of a project led by PhD students at the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences (LMS).
Learning how to surf the wave of podcast popularity, the students are producing interview-style episodes with the aim of discussing complex medical science topics in a way that is informative to other students who may not be familiar with biomedical jargon.
This activity, now sponsored by the Imperial Graduate School, is currently under preparation and the first episodes are expected to be released later this year.
Recorded at The Pod in White City Place, the podcast is bringing together in the studio experts on different fields of biomedical research with PhD students to discuss topics such as precision medicine, ageing as a drug target or how genes affect behaviour.
On a brisk Wednesday at the end of September we launched our programme to encourage sustainable practices within the MRC LMS at the “GreeningLMS launch event”. The main aims of our event were to give LMS members the opportunity to get to know the team and find out about its initiatives. This event also allowed important informal chats inspiring new ideas and collaborations! The suggestion box was full of lots of exciting thoughts of how the GreeningLMS and LMS staff members can come together to create the most impact. It was a fantastic event with a great turnout including all LMS Imperial students on the 6th floor of the CRB building, Hammersmith Campus.
To celebrate the end of 2019, over 60 students, post-docs and PIs from the CMBI got together for a Christmas-themed games night organised by first year PhD students. This event was an opportunity for people from different departments and spread out throughout the Flowers building to socialise, as well as to allow the first year PhD students to get to know each other and the building.
Despite the students being thrown in the deep end, the event ran smoothly (mostly due to the invaluable help from the Flowers admin team and a last-minute dash to Waitrose).
Attendees played party games such as twister, beer pong and table tennis, as well as dancing to a music playlist best described as a Year 6 disco.