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.
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.
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.
With the Christmas break a distant memory and work-weary lab members itching for a break, re-energisation of the work place was desperately in order. And how better to achieve this than with ping pong, pizza and (substantial quantities of) alcohol? Generous funding was granted from the Research Community Fund, allowing PhD students and early career post-docs from the Section of Investigative Medicine and Section of Cell Biology and Functional Genomics to attend an inter-lab social at Bounce Ping Pong on 12th April 2019. Due to popular demand, a round robin competition was held across the two hired tables, with members from different sections paired into doubles teams.
On the evening of Thursday the 7th of February, the Computational Chemistry division of the Chemistry Department held its third monthly research and social event. These meetings started running in September to strengthen the professional and personal relationships between computational research groups, which have found themselves sharing a large open-plan office after the departmental move to the White City campus in Summer 2018. The meetings are mainly organised by the postgraduate students of each group and promote the integration of students of all levels into the wider departmental community.
This month, we put up the event with the generous help of the Graduate School cohort building fund.
On Saturday the 2nd of February 2019, the first-year PhDs from the Bioengineering Department went for a nice evening out, that started with an escape room followed by a nice Italian dinner.
The objective of this activity was fomenting a good relationship and friendship between the first-year PhD students from the Bioengineering Department, as we don’t all know each other despite constantly crossing each other in the hallways. We are all now starting a 3-4 year journey where these relationships are going to be invaluable, not only on a personal level but also on the professional one, as thriving engineering usually requires (besides obvious personal effort) help/knowledge from others and team effort.
Postgraduate students based at the Imperial Hammersmith Hospital campus took to the ice for a PG student social at the Natural History Museum on Wednesday the 19th of December. This social brought together research students from the departments of Medicine, Surgery & Cancer and the NHLI in a festive skating session followed by drinks at ħ bar, allowing PG students on the campus to mingle across different departments and disciplines.
The event was a great success, bringing together research students from across departments and institutes based at the Hammersmith hospital campus, as well as other research staff that were interested in getting involved with the event (including clinical and postdoctoral fellows).
by Eloise Matheson, PhD student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering
The first PhD networking event for robotics related researchers was held on Thursday 15th November 2018. Sponsored by the Imperial College Graduate School Research Community Fund and the supported by the Imperial College Robotics Forum (Network of Robotics), this event was aimed to connect PhD researchers across the college that face similar technical and research challenges! Robotics in general is a very multi-disciplinary topic, and with over 28 robotics labs spread across departments and faculties, this event was a great chance to bring people together. Over 50 people from 15 different labs registered for the event, with a turnout of around 40.