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.

 

 

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.

Armageddon… not quite but why don’t they stick scales on their photos!

Exciting news reported in the local papers in Gloucestershire as well as news nationally in the UK this week, as small meteorite hit the UK. First signs were a bright, extended meteor track shot on various door bell and security cameras, with a subsequent find by a bemused family on their driveway.  The family then alerted the experts (don’t tell Gove) who now reliably tell us it contains material from the beginning of the solar system.  Indeed one could argue that the material was probably from the Big Bang in one form or another, but that discussion is for another day.  But BBC and other media providers, please put a scale bar on your pics when there is no natural reference.  The meteorite itself could be any size and the picture of the drive could easily be of a coating on a metals surface of the order of a few microns or less or a stony desert!  Admittedly, if the latter were true the resulting impact would bring out more than a few avid meteorite hunters.

May this be a lesson for budding coating engineers – you don’t want your rather novel coating that is about to revolutionise joint replacement to be mistaken for a meteorite impact!

Health – COVID fightback: the critical role of HIV experts

An article in the Guardian highlights the critical skills needed to identify, treat and limit the impact of new diseases.  It is important these and other skills are retained as the global community moves forward in what may become a continuous battle for health security. The broader inputs from behavioural scientists and other stakeholders/participants in the social science field are equally important in our fight against current and emerging disease states as interventions depend on the public perception of risk and how this plays out in the community. This crucial piece of the jigsaw became apparent in the early stages of the HIV pandemic in the 80s and 90s.