Super Innovation in Uppsala

Uppsala University and its Innovation hub have an enviable record of translating high-end science and engineering to the wider sector, with a few examples of this excellence provided here. The Uppsala Innovation Centre has been ranked in the global top five and has an extensive list of business start ups.

This article explains the role and services provide by Uppsala University Innovation and the support provided to students and researchers.  Importantly, the advisors have industrial experience which allows them to truly span the divide between academia and the commercial sector and can better identify the barriers and opportunities for the transfer of knowledge between sectors. 

Prof Cecilia Persson

Prof Cecilia Persson at Uppsala University, a BioTrib scientist in charge, has worked with Uppsala Innovation and the Innovation Centre closely, developing her new bone cement which will reduce the adverse effects of the current generation of injectables used to treat spinal fractures.

Simone De Beauvoir and Hard Maths!

I had to pinch myself a number of times this week to ensure I was not ensnared in some Kafkaesque nightmare. Katharine Birbalsingh CBE, Chair, Social Mobility Commission (yes, that is correct), decided to make a comment and relate hard maths in physics to the poor uptake amongst girls in this subject, not withstanding the latest round of results in A-level Mathematics.  The full select committee discussion can be found here, in which Katherine refers to anonymous research supporting her claims.  This got worse as our Chair decided to go on GB News (a common media outlet for Katharine) to explain that she had endeavoured to control for social factors, after which the only attribute left was the sex difference.  Clearly, Katharine couldn’t  have, effectively, excluded all these factors as many are outside her control, but that didn’t stop her professing her innocence.

A key aspect of the debate, to my mind, is not just about getting women in STEM careers, but that if they are excluded we get a world designed for men in an increasing technological age. Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez (review here) sets out cataloguing, through careful research, the lack of data and the lack of gender/sex disaggregation of that data, which then works in hand with the assumption that maleness and the male lens are neutral to discriminate against women. The effects of this data invisibility, arising from a lack of representation, in many technological spheres leads to profound inequalities for women, which impoverish them (and children) to an appalling extent.  This is made worse by the examples of good practice which are just ignored.  The book’s inescapable conclusion is best summed up by the quote at the beginning:

Representation of the world, like the world itself, is the work of men; they describe it from their own point of view, which they confuse with the absolute truth.”   Simone De Beauvoir 

Ben Clegg’s Research Secondment at SimSol

My name is Ben, I am currently a PhD candidate working for Lulea university of Technology in Sweden, with a focus on the biological tribology aspects of total hip replacements.

For the month of February, I was able to visit and experience work at Simulation Solutions (SimSol), based in Stockport, UK.

They are a small to medium sized company with a friendly welcoming atmosphere. Their business strategy is focused on three areas; Warehouse planning, glass imaging and joint simulators. My aim during my placement was to work closely with the joint simulator team, specifically the 6 axis hip simulator that was to be shipped off to Shanghai at the end of the month.

What’s really special about SimSol is that they are one of only four companies that can produce clinically relevant simulators that adhere to the ISO standard (international standard for reproducing clinically relevant hip simulator data) over a few million cycles. This is thanks to their great engineering team.

During my stay I was able to experience the behind-the-scenes mechanical operation, with tasks such as bearing replacement and maintenance, troubleshooting and likely errors/red flags that I should be aware of when it comes to my personal testing. (I will be running the hip simulator in Lulea for many millions of cycles, so knowing what to look out for is imperative, as failures inevitably occur).

I was also able to gain experience calibrating, verifying, and running the system software, which has been designed to be user friendly (maybe only to us engineers though!). Once the test is running, you must ensure that the motors are in tune with the ISO cycle, using PID controls, so that accurate results are obtained.

Overall I gained valuable experience from my months stay at SimSol, which I would like to thank them for, and I am exited to return later in March to learn more about securing and mounting samples in collaboration with DePuy, who are purchasing two newly renovated hip simulators.

I appreciate your time spent reading

Ben Clegg

This article was written by Ben Clegg part of an ongoing series of scientific communications written and curated by BioTrib’s Early Stage Researchers.

Ben is researching the Wear particle characterization and bio-compatibility of newly 3D printed self-lubricating polymer composites in total joint replacements at Luleå University of Technology, Sweden.

 

International Womens Day – BioTrib

For International Women’s Day 2022 the women in BioTrib have put together a series of 6 interviews and articles covering:

– Why engineering as a profession?
– Women of Impact: Empowered women, empower women. 
– What did you expect your experience of engineering to be like, and how does that compare to reality?
– What skill(s) in particular have helped you during your career?
– What advice would you give to your younger self about entering STEM?
– Do you think that the proportion of women in your field has changed over the course of your career?

Thanks for editing and contributions from Judith SchneiderCecilia PerssonEdona HylaIsobel ReesBeril Saadet YenigülAfrina Khan PiyaDr Lisa-Dionne MorrisFjolla SylajIsobel Pollock-Hulf OBE and Charlotte Merrell

Check it out below!

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 956004 🇪🇺

Building a career during a pandemic

Many BioTrib Early Stage Researchers have had the added challenge of beginning their PhD during the Covid pandemic requiring them to rapidly adapt to new paradigms of remote and hybrid working. 

Hannah Preston, Dr Helen Hughes and Dr Matthew Davis at Leeds University Business School have created a range of resources based on Helen’s research giving an overview of new working trends along with advice on what organisations and researchers can do to maximise their wellbeing and working practices.

They have even created a podcast avaliable here!

Check out the full report and more of this timely and cutting edge research on the Understanding the value of internships project page!

UKRI Reviews of Doctoral Training – The Good and Some Cause for Concern

The UKRI, the overarching government body that manages publicly funded research and innovation in the UK, has just published two reports on doctoral training one in STEM (the EPSRC report) and one by the equivalent in social sciences (the ESRC report). Both reports recognise the value of doctoral training with an emphasis on employers rather than the wider community. The reports highlight the need for future action in this area:

Alongside council-specific actions, the two reviews are also an important contribution to the evidence base for a new deal for postgraduate research, which will address:

  • funding and stipend levels
  • routes in, through and out of doctoral training
  • rights and conditions
  • diversification of models and access.

UKRI – https://www.ukri.org/news/epsrc-and-esrc-doctoral-reviews-published/ accessed 10-10-2021

The EPSRC has released its review of doctoral training in the STEM arena within the UK. There is a wealth of information on the background to the report including outcomes from workshops with stakeholders and a review of the current literature. There is also the report itself and the recommendations therein.

List of recommendations  
Recommendation 1 To stimulate economic growth, EPSRC should increase the number of students it supports and the professional development that they receive. EPSRC-funded doctoral students go onto careers in innovation and research in manufacturing, information and communication technologies and other scientific and technical careers in industry and academia. To become a global science superpower, the number of people with these skills must grow and EPSRC must lead by increasing the number of students it supports. EPSRC should bid for an uplift of investment in EPS for doctoral education from the spending review and other opportunities.
Recommendation 2 EPSRC should better demonstrate the value of a doctorate, its outcomes, and the destination of doctoral graduates, so that this is understood by all key stakeholders.
Recommendation 3 EPSRC should continue to provide thought leadership in doctoral education to the EPS community by investing in the highest quality doctoral education provision which supports a diverse range of career paths.
Recommendation 4 EPSRC should provide a stable long-term baseline of investment to support a creative and innovative fundamental research community (such as the current algorithmic DTP investment), alongside a more dynamic framework to respond to and support emerging strategic priorities (for example by investing in more frequent CDT competitions and including studentship investments alongside research investments in top priority strategic areas).
Recommendation 5 To effectively support the UK’s increasing STEM capability, the system as a whole needs to grow. Recognising the high value placed on doctoral studentships by industry, EPSRC should engage with industry (both the current and new sectors) to encourage and enable increased industry funding and co-funding of doctoral students. These are effective ways of attracting industry investment into the R&D landscape.
Recommendation 6 EPSRC should showcase the ways small and medium enterprises can and do engage with doctoral students, to widen participation and enable overall growth in the system.
Recommendation 7 EPSRC should work with UKRI on doctoral student issues covered by the Government’s People and Culture Strategy expected to be published in summer 2021, ensuring that issues facing the EPS community are addressed. In particular, the New Deal for postgraduate research is expected to address areas such as the stipend level for doctoral students, the rights and conditions of doctoral studentships, financial sustainability of doctoral education investments, doctoral student recruitment policies, and the health and wellbeing of students.
Recommendation 8 The existing opportunity to employ graduates on UKRI grants does not replace our main route to doctoral education but could provide a valuable alternative career
Recommendation 9 EPSRC should work with the sector to provide greater recognition and visibility of the wider skills developed alongside research skills during a doctorate to ensure the employability of all doctoral graduates.
Recommendation 10 All EPSRC funded students should have access to opportunities outside of their research project (e.g., conferences, placements, public engagement), irrespective of the funding route. EPSRC should be explicit within each scheme that funding should be made available for opportunities outside of the research project.
Recommendation 11 EPSRC should prioritise funding excellent doctoral experiences and access to opportunities over student numbers, while ensuring value for money.
Recommendation 12 EPSRC should assist those who deliver the EPSRC doctoral investments in developing and sharing good practice.
Recommendation 13 It is essential that EPSRC continues to invest through a diverse range of flexible approaches so that we continue to support doctoral students’ varied needs, backgrounds and potential careers as well as the differing requirements of the research and innovation communities.
Recommendation 14 As EPSRC’s current mechanisms are well regarded, new initiatives should only be introduced where there is a compelling case for an alternative approach.
Recommendation 15 EPSRC should work with all stakeholders to ensure the current flexibilities relating to both collaboration and supporting students are well known and used.
Recommendation 16 Doctoral education should be available to people following a variety of career paths. EPSRC should work with stakeholders to continue to improve access, diversity of entry points to doctoral education and tailored support for individuals.
Recommendation 17 EPSRC should understand detailed EDI issues in each of our research areas or sectors and work with our community and representative bodies to address them. EPSRC will continue to work within UKRI on broader EDI initiatives.
Recommendation 18 EPSRC should explore how doctoral training investments can support the levelling up agenda.

93 percent club

Earlier in the year I reported on a new University Stakeholder Group that was gaining traction within the sector. Unusually this one was centred on those which form the greatest proportion of school leavers, those from state schools.  There is further news on this on the BBC website.  Sophie Pender expertly brings the situation to the fore saying:

“Truthfully, when many state-educated people reach the pinnacle of their careers, they’ve often dispensed with their state-school identity,”

“Our socioeconomic background is not obvious on the surface.

“It’s a characteristic that we are able to mask if we need to – and that needs to stop.”

 Quotes taken from the BBC website – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-57580910, accessed 12th July 2021

I just wonder how may of us now say ‘dinner’ rather than ‘tea’!?

Further information on this not-for-profit social enterprise can be found by following the link  – 93percent.

Paige Kesemeyer – homelessness to academic success!

A truly brilliant piece from Paige Kesemeyer about her journey from disadvantage and initial lack of opportunity to completing her BA degree in Social Policy and an MA in Society, Culture and Media.   Education for all and the opportunities that it provides are a necessary part of imaging a just and beneficial society which allows all to flourish as they see fit. It also provides us (society) with the widest possible pool of talent and encourages a broader range of innovation and ideas to circulate within different sectors.  It also recognises the importance of taking to account all stakeholder views to ensure that minimal disadvantage is impacted on particular groups.

What does a Lecturer/Professor actually do?

It is pretty much a standard joke about what academics do with their time including the perception we have lengthy holidays when the UG students are on vacation.  This view is held in not only amongst the public at large but by our own students, their parents and, rather alarmingly, by policy makers and even former Ministers of Education (I thought there would have been solidarity amongst professions that have a long summer ‘recess’).

Dr Susan Wardell from Social Anthropology at the University of Otaga, NZ, has produced an infographic of the life of an academic and the various tasks we have perform to fulfil our obligations to our stakeholders (see below). There is further info on Dr Wardell’s twitter feed. What is left off the infographic is the number of hours a typical academic works – which in the UK is in excess of that defined by the working time directive – 48 hours (when the UK was a member of the EU it was the only country to have an exemption from this legislation). Prof. Katherine Sang et al (2015) provides a critique of this phenomena. This is not an isolated discussion (just type ‘How many hours a week do academics work’ into a search engine) especially around the reducing focus on research.

An academic’s role within the University environment. Creative Commons License – Copyright, Susan Wardall – Source Twitter: Unlazy Susan.

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.