Celebrating work in press and in progress, exploring careers in and out of academia, and showing our competitive natures deciphering emojis: all part of the 3rd annual MRC LMS Postdoctoral Retreat, held on the 30th of November in the beautiful, and historic surrounds of Kew Gardens.
As in previous years, the Postdoctoral retreat was organised by the LMS Post-doc Committee with a view to promoting scientific exchange and collaborative partnerships among the post-doctoral researchers of the LMS. This time the day was held in Cambridge Cottage, part of the complex of historic buildings in Kew Gardens that serve as administration and support for the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.
The day began with six oral presentations of work in progress in the various LMS labs as well as a poster session in the refreshments room followed by lively discussions. This was followed by lunch while poster sessions were underway giving LMS postdocs an opportunity to discuss their research projects and an exchange of ideas over a lovely sunny afternoon at the Cambridge Cottage in Kew Gardens.
The career development talks after lunch were varied and good-humoured with excellent advice and insights from Dr. Bryn Owen who described his progression from post-doctoral researcher to his current position of a junior PI at Imperial College. Despite pointing out the attrition rate amongst post-doc researchers, Bryn encouraged everyone interested to pursue a career in academia. The three other talks in this session explored alternatives to academic research such as working in industry – Dr. Jorge Soza Ried reported very positively on his experiences at GSK and Dr. Edward Green talked about the trials and satisfactions of setting up one’s own biotech company. Dr. Mark Steadman described his fascinating journey from a post-doctoral fellow to an intriguing post at the professional services network Deloitte.
The keynote speaker, science journalist Vivienne Parry, then took us on a colourful dance through her experiences presenting classic popular science programmes such as the BBC’s “Tomorrow’s World” and Radio 4’s “Just So Science”, along the way discussing her relationship with the late Princess Diana, her father’s job as a tattoo artist and what to do with your hands if interviewed on television.
The evening concluded with a joyful pub quiz with drinks and nibbles. The quiz tested competitive natures, various areas of biology and science, as well as code-breaking skills when a set of emoji-based symbols had to be deciphered to reveal science-based terms or phenomena.
The beautiful surroundings, quality of talks, networking and the opportunity to stroll around Kew Gardens conspired to make the third post-doc retreat thoroughly enjoyed by all who attended.