Final day of Pride month – the EU keeps the good fight up! 🏳️‍🌈

Pride month has offered a vibrant opportunity to celebrate diversity and the identities of our friends, colleagues and communities.

However, recent news of the Hungarian bill which set out to ban teaching of LGBTQ+ topics in schools is a callous and unfortunate reminder that there are still many marginalised LGBTQ+ communities.

BioTrib and its members are proud to be part of a European community that was quick to condemn this shameful bill. The President of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, released an uncompromising statement reassuring us all that the Hungarian bill is at loggerheads with the fundamental values of the EU and will not stand for discrimination against people on the basis of their sexual orientation.

I believe in a Europe which embraces diversity.

I will use all the powers of the Commission to ensure that the rights of all EU citizens are guaranteed. Whoever they are and where ever they live within the European Union.

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission

Read President von der Leyen’s full statement here or alternatively watch it here.

Surface Modifications of Breast Implants affect Immune Response.

Further evidence of the important effect of engineered surfaces on immune response, this time in breast implants. Such research demonstrates the importance of modifying the surface texture in a manner that reduces the foreign body response. These and other examples pave the way for the development of new technologies for enhancing a favourable response to the implant and reduce complications including, potential, arising from infection and surface contraction.

The authors of the original paper have already provided a classification system for functional biocompatibility with regard to surface roughness (see figure below).


Figure reproduced from: Barr et al, Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials, Volume 75, November 2017, Pages 75-81.  Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

BioTrib Conversations: Modelling Bio-Lubricated Contacts

Prof Richard Hall (BioTrib Co-ordinator University of Leeds) and Dr Rob Hewson (BioTrib Lead Scientist, Imperial College London) discuss applications of advanced computational methods in biotribology, modelling synovial joints and the behavior of synovial fluid, and the roles of experimental engineers working with experts in fluid dynamics modelling.

10 ingredients for a successful supervisor/PhD student relationship – A thoughtful commentary from Elsevier Connect

The PhD candidate-Supervisor Relationship is probably the cornerstone of academic research, at least in Western Europe. The relationship, which can last anything from 3 to 5 or more years depending on the type and location of the PhD degree, provides a key transition for the student from being a learned individual to one who enhances these attributes and becomes more or less independent in their pursuit of excellence.

Some of the more successful relationships last a lifetime particularly for those candidates that continue a career in academia or a similar domain. Prof Torralba declares 10 key constituents for developing this relationship successfully. How do these attributes/features resonate with your experiences as a supervisor or student?


Leeds: The Summer Careers Festival 2021!

This Summer, we’re excited to share with you a series of virtual events to help you discover opportunities in Yorkshire, the UK and globally. Join us from the 7 – 10 June for the Summer Careers Festival, where you can book 1-to-1 meetings and group sessions with a huge range of employers who are looking to hire now!

We have over 160+ employers with live vacancies waiting to talk to you! If you’re looking for a summer internship, placement or a graduate level job – then the Summer Careers Festival is for you.

See what events we will run during the Summer Careers Festival below and click directly on each event to book your exclusive place.

Summer Careers Festival fairs and events:

To attend the Careers Day fairs you will have to download the CareerFair+ app and get your profile ready! Read the top tips here to stand out from the crowd and make sure to attend the pre-events webinars.

Here are some tips on how to join us and make the most of the Careers Days:

  1. Download the CF+ app (Google Play & App Store)
  2. Create an account – watch this video to see how!
  3. Allow notifications & add the fair to your calendar
  4. Listen to How to prepare for the Summer Careers Festival | Top tips from Marc and Kiera – webinar recording
  5. Browse attending employers (https://cfplus.page.link/ZMm1)
  6. Research the companies and use filters to decide which employers you want to talk to
  7. Book 1-2-1 appointments and group sessions. Employers are adding their availability on daily basis – if you cannot book an appointment for a particular employer – make sure to log in to CF+ at a later date to check their availability again.

 

Data in the EU – Interesting information on demographics and Migration within the World’s Largest Trading Bloc

We are often told that data and the knowledge derived from it drives our economy and our is important for social justice – an evidence based approach but so often we are not provided with the data we need let alone the tools for the average person to access it. A step in the right direction is the data service of the EU – interesting reading was the demography and migration bit of the service… have a read! But not sure if you can get hold of the source data.

EU offers Global opportunities to Postdoctoral researchers

The EU’s Horizon Europe has begun and Sweden, Switzerland and UK, as an associate partner that has the same rights as full partners, will be actively engaged in research. As such we will be submitting grants in areas of medical engineering and biomechanics using both bottom-up instruments and top-down specified calls.

One of these instruments that allows collaboration development are through the Postdoctoral fellowships – which allow an overseas post PhD researcher to undertake research and research training in Europe (max 8 years research experience since their PhD).  The proposed call opens on 18 May 2021 with a proposed call deadline 15 September 2021 (tbc). These fellowships provide a substantial salary as well as a research support allocation managed by the host institution.

The consortium members, University of Leeds, Uppsala University, Lulea Technical University, ETH Zurich and Imperial College London,  have considerable experience of hosting and developing the types of fellowships providing an open and innovative environment for the Fellows to develop. The consortium have considerable EU experience through both large scale programmes (lifeLongJoints.eu), mentoring EU fellows and a number of MSCA ITNs (now called doctoral networks) and would welcome discussions developing EU postdoctoral fellowship proposals. If you have any students who may be considering a postdoctoral research position and might be interested in med-tech/biomechanics then perhaps we can chat about this.  These fellowships are useful for answering research questions that both the beneficiary and the researcher are interested in.

When will the infringements of people’s rights to dignity end?

Prof Chloe Orkin key UK HIV researcher, activist and consultant says on her twitter feed ‘How totally SHAMEFUL and hideous that this government chose to hold a public consultation before legislating to ban the INDEFENSIBLE practice of conversion therapy’.

Following the Queens Speech laying out the year ahead, many groups are elated and relieved to hear an end to conversion therapy attempts to change someones sexual orientation or gender identity in England and Wales. However many campaigners are frustrated that this is not an immediate blanket interdiction on this abusive and damaging practice, instead the ban on conversion therapy will be preceded by a public consultation.

10,000 and counting – Congratulations to the ERC for reaching this impressive milestone!

The European Research Council has just awarded its 10,000th grant!  The award was an Consolidator Grant provided to Professor Inga Berre of the University of Bergen – congratulations! Not sure it is a milestone under the definition provided by the online manual for Horizon Europe, but BioTrib is not going to allow this to stop celebrating another EU Horizon success – champers out folks! To celebrate this fantastic achievement the ERC had a celebration attended by Senior EU dignitaries as well previous award winners outlining the support and subsequent impact such an award had on their careers and the wider community.

 

 

European Diversity Month

May is the month to be in within Europe, as it celebrates and raises awareness of the importance of diversity and inclusion in our workplaces and in the society throughout the whole European Union through European Diversity Month

Let’s all take a bolder stand for diversity and act about it. Let’s show our commitment to equality and this May 2021 celebrate the European Diversity Month together. With more diverse workplaces, we will create a fairer and more equal Europe for all.

Helena Dalli, EU Commissioner for Equality

There is a launch event on Tuesday, 4 May 10:00-12:00 CEST, which can be accessed following registration on the above website. You will be able to view a recording of the high-level launch here.

BioTrib/University of Leeds MSCA ESR/IF careers meeting – 26th April 2021.

BioTrib and the RIS EU office joined forces at the University of Leeds to deliver a careers orientated event for all MSCA Early Stage Researchers and Individual Fellows who are employed at the University.

The event comprised a panel session where 4 ESR and IF alumni provided an overview of their careers and provided advice to current MSCA sponsored researchers at the University of Leeds. The panel comprised:

  • Jayakrishnan Chandrappan, Head of Packaging, CSA Catapult, UK (MSCA IF Alumni),
  • Brandon Charleston, Head of Volunteering, Raleigh International (Leeds PhD Alumni),
  • Cecilia Persson, Professor at Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Applied Materials Science, Uppsala University, Sweden (MSCA ITN Alumni),
  • Anna Plotnikova, Assistant Professor of Strategic Change at VU University Amsterdam, School of Business and Economics, The Netherlands (MSCA ITN Alumni).

The panellists discussed the role of internationalisation in their career progression and the importance that provides through the demonstration of the attributes of an independent researcher, networking across national boundaries and being exposed to different cultures and research ideas.

The meeting also comprised speakers from the University involved in delivering opportunities for ESRs and IFs.  This included the RIS EU Office, The International Office, the Careers Service and the Organisational and Personal Development Unit.

Please note – the video recordings and slides will also be made available on our MSCA Microsoft TEAMS group so you can consult them as resources for future use!

I. Career opportunities & exploration sessions

 

Part 1: Welcome, Agenda and Introduction (video recording)
Prof Richard M Hall

 

Part 2: The Careers Centre. – what support is available at Leeds for PGRs (PhD Students)

Steve Carter, Career service

 

Part 3: Horizon Europe Opportunities​for MSCA Early-Stage Researchers (ESRs) and Individual Fellows (IFs)

Ben Williams, EU Team, RIS

 

Part 4: International Funding Opportunities for ESRs/IFs​
Hongsen Peng​, Global Research Development Team​, RIS

 

Part 5: How to use LinkedIn as a Careers Research Tool (no slides – live demonstration during the event)
Ruth Winden, Careers consultant, Organisational Development and Professional Learning (ODPL)  

 

II.  Panel Session – Perspectives of successful PhD/ITN and IF Alumni + Q&A (Chaired by Prof Richard M Hall)

 

Part 6: Introduction to the Alumni Panel session, Prof Richard M Hall & Presentation from Dr Anna Plotnikova 

Dr Anna Plotnikova, Assistant Professor of Strategic Change at VU University Amsterdam, School of Business and Economics, The Netherlands. (Marie Curie Alumnae (2016-2020) from the ITN project COINS, Leeds University Business School.)

 

Part 7: Presentation from Dr Jayakrishnan Chandrappan 

Dr Jayakrishnan Chandrappan, Head of Packaging, CSA Catapult, UK
Marie Curie Alumnus (2016-2017), MIRIPSHE project, Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, School of Chemical and Process Engineering.

 

Part 8: Presentation from Dr Brandon Charleston

Dr Brandon Charleston, Head of Volunteering, Raleigh International, UK. (Leeds PhD Alumnus, Leeds University Business School).

 

Part 9: Presentation from Dr Cecilia Persson

Dr Cecilia Persson, Professor at Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Applied Materials Science, Uppsala University, Sweden.
(Marie Curie Alumnae (2006-2009), from the ITN project Spine FX, Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, School of Mechanical Engineering.)

 

Part 10: Alumni Panel – Q&A (All panellists)

 

Is it a bird? Yes it is a peregrine!

Leeds doesn’t have a cathedral but nearby Wakefield Cathedral has a funky visitor, which gets attention from over 100,000 fans in 57 countries! A pair of peregrine falcons are currently nesting on top of the cathedral tower and they have their own personal webcam. Therapeutic viewing after a long day contemplating life, the Universe and BioTrib.

Stop Press – 24 hours later:  Judith tells me there are also Peregrines located on the Parkinson Tower at the University of Leeds.

Research – Inspiring paper from the Leeds-Imperial Group on the Fabrication of Cartilage-Inspired Hydrogel Entangled Polymer–Elastomer Structures.

Significant paper developing and modelling hydrogels with a goal of more closely representing those of cartilage. The material shows a similar equilibrium compressive modulus to that observed in cartilage and allows for both rehydration and poroelastic lubrication mechanisms. BioTrib looks forward to seeing further work from this partnership of leading tribological and modelling groups.

Abstract Image

Figure – Reprinted with permission from: Fabrication of Cartilage-Inspired Hydrogel/Entangled Polymer–Elastomer Structures Possessing Poro-Elastic Properties, Siavash Soltanahmadi, Nicholas Raske, Gregory N. de Boer, et al.  ACS Applied Polymer Materials, Copyright 2021 American Chemical Society

 

Training – What skills does a PhD student need for a successful career outside academia?

Melina Papalampropoulou-Tsiridou has recently written an interesting blog on the PLOS ECR community pages which poses the following question:

PhD training in the 21st century: is there something missing?

This is a difficult question with the myriad of skills required in differing jobs across the STEM sector, from a science policy adviser to a postdoctoral researcher in a laboratory at a prestigious global University.  Indeed some of the skills required of a PhD student in industry may be become less important than they were in actually doing the PhD, whilst others will come to the fore once in paid employment post PhD.  An example, may be the focus on the idea of being an independent researcher, a student pursuing their own research goals, sometimes linked to other projects as in ETNs, sometimes not.  However, in industry, or even in EU funded large scale projects such as LifeLongJoints, the research is often completed in teams with groups of people explicitly working towards a common goal.  In it is not to say that PhDs are not highly prized, they are! Employers seek researchers with skills in critical analysis, a greater degree of objectivity and adept at generating new ideas. It is to be remembered that most PhDs will end up outside the academic sector.  In a recent BioTrib meeting with industry on supervisory training it was suggested that PhD candidates lack Project Management and other organisational skills when entering industry, but that the core creativity was highly valued. Melina provides similar examples around Networking and Management skills which appears to reflect a wider observation.  In BioTrib the Early Stage Researchers will undertake some Research Management training including Project Management, Ethics and aspects of Regulation. However, more can be done to make this more effective and embed this within European Research (Training) Programmes without impacting on the valuable core research that these ESRs do whilst undertaking a PhD.

If you want to outline what skills you think are missing in a PhD programme, please contact us here at BioTrib.