PhD retreat 2023

Scientific careers outside of academia - what are the possibilities?

 10 October 2023   Blogs

By Scarlett Brown and Lucy Edwardes

On Friday 29th September the PhD student committee organised the annual PhD student retreat. The theme this year was scientific careers outside of academia. This theme was chosen based on feedback from the student cohort which highlighted a desire to expand awareness and networking opportunities outside of the traditional academic setting. The day started with a talk from our very own Dr Lindsay Keith, who gave a very insightful talk surrounding her career to date and the importance of communicating your science effectively. Following on from this, we had talks from Dr Jayne Spink, the director of Proven Connect – Prostate Cancer Research and Dr Paula Kirby, a Portfolio manager at LifeArc. Who both shared their experiences working across industry, in policy and the third sector. This was followed by a panel discussion where we focused on challenges that women face in the workplace and the importance of challenging the stereotype of a ‘typical scientist’ to improve diversity and accessibility to science. The morning session ended with a sustainability workshop led by Nicola Rodricks, where we brainstormed ideas on how we could improve sustainability within the lab and the wider institute.

The afternoon session was all about biotechs and forming your network. We had talks from Dr Isaac Johnson and Dr Jordan Lane, both of which have spent time in pharmaceutical and the biotech industries and have subsequently gone on to found their own companies; Verinnogen and Ignota Labs respectively. They shared the highs and lows of trying to start your own company and learning the business side of science. This was followed by a talk from Stephanie Powell, Community Collaboration Lead for Imperial, who discussed her time in scientific publishing and leading strategy engagements for biotechs in white city. She discussed how she came to realise what she is truly passionate about and how we can learn to recognise our strengths and what motivates us. The day finished with a panel discussion on the future of academia and scientific discovery in light of AI, general advice for planning ahead in your career and recognising when to leave a job if you’re no longer progressing. Followed by a networking event with all of the students and speakers.

The day was a huge success and feedback received from the student cohort so far has been overwhelmingly positive. Please feel free to get in touch with Lucy Edwardes or Scarlett Brown if you would like to see more of this at the LMS in the future!