4th Annual MRC LMS postdoc retreat

 14 November 2018   Institute News

“I really enjoyed the postdoc retreat as a whole. I liked the socialising, the ample opportunities for scientific exchange and the wide-ranging insights into various careers as a scientist.”  – Yasunori Noguchi, postdoctoral researcher, DNA Replication.

On 24 October our postdocs hosted their 4th retreat at Regent’s University, London. The retreat is an opportunity for our postdocs to take part in a programme of sessions, from an exchange of scientific ideas and communication of their research to the opportunity to hear from our facilities and potential career pathways from invited speakers.

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“This year’s retreat was particularly interesting for new starters, as a great overview of all facilities was given, as well as over the broad research going on at the LMS.” – Vera Leber, postdoctoral researcher, DNA Replication.

Representatives from the LMS facilities presented about the support they can offer researchers and the equipment and analysis tools available. Providing examples of how different groups are currently utilising them. Laurence Game, Head of Genomics, summed up the feeling of the different facilities, “I encourage you to come and discuss your projects and we can share the different applications and techniques that we have available alongside new technologies that we are working on.”

Sharing science

Postdocs from a variety of research groups were invited to ‘share their science’. A carousel of talks that highlighted the range of projects happening at the LMS and how each of the postdocs were investigating important questions in their field. It was inspiring to hear about how mating modulates the process of egg production, how studying C. elegans behaviour to different drugs could be used to treat multiple diseases, and how global activation of AMPK, an enzyme involved in energy homeostasis, prevents diet-induced obesity (DIO) in High Fat Diet (HFD)-fed mice.

Over lunch the postdoc teams competed in the infamous retreat quiz, the top three teams were: green is the new orange (1st), green (2nd), winners green and white (3rd).

Lay Summary Writing Competition Winners: (Left to Right) Tracy Mak, Siamak Redhai and Jodie Birch.

Following an interactive presentation about engagement and communications at the MRC LMS, the winners of the Lay Summary Writing Competition were announced. The competition was strong with over 50 postdocs submitting lay abstracts and abstract quality was overall generally brilliant. Jenna Stevens-Smith, Head of Grants Engagement and Communications (GECo) at the MRC LMS said, “It was amazing to see the variety of research undertaken at the Institute. There were three abstracts that really stood out.” The winners were: Tracy Mak from Cellular Identity and Metabolism wrote about ‘Targeting a small molecule in our body to revers diabetes’, Siamak Redhai’s from Gut Signalling and Metabolism wrote about ‘Finding new cells to bridge the signalling gap between the gut and the brain’, and Jodie Birch from Cell Proliferation who wrote ‘The search for a pill to cure aging’. There were also some special mentions for best title and best research story.

“The final session focused on career development talks from invited speakers across various sectors ranging from lectureships, science policy, patent law to consultancy. These highlighted interesting perspectives on pathways undertaken by postdocs and gave the audience much to think about and discuss.” – Shabana Khan, MRC LMS Postdoc committee rep and postdoctoral researcher, Synaptic Plasticity and Repair.

Career paths

To roundoff the event we heard from invited speakers, from inside and outside of academia, about their career paths. This provided an opportunity for our postdocs to think about and discuss their career development and future options with lots of questions being asked following each of the spotlight talks.

Themes that arose were how to translate skills, how to progress within different careers and the reality of the job roles. It was clear that doing a postdoc within the Institute offered many possibilities. Former LMS PhD student and now science policy professional Eva Sharpe, Head of Policy and Engagement, ICR, delivered an insightful talk about working in science policy and the science policy internships available. Mentoring opportunities available to our postdocs were also discussed, offering great potential for growth and guidance.

“The postdoc retreat is a good initiative for postdocs to gain insight about career development” – Siamak Redhai, postdoctoral researcher, Gut Signalling and Metabolism, and one of the three winners of the Lay Summary Writing Competition.

This year was the 4th Annual MRC LMS postdoc retreat and following the programme of talks postdocs were able to network and continue discussing elements of the day. The retreat is organised by Imperial College Postdoc Reps and the MRC LMS Postdoc Committee. For more information about our postdocs and the support available read our recent article for Postdoc Appreciation Week 2018 which celebrates postdoc researchers at the MRC LMS.