5 years of SRUK/CERU

The idea and objectives of the Society of Spanish Researchers in the United Kingdom (SRUK/CERU) were conceived in 2011 by a group of Spanish researchers working in London, and led by Dr. Lorenzo Melchor, at that moment a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Cancer Research UK, and today recognized as founding president of SRUK.

SRUK/CERU was created in 2011 in an attempt to gather the group of Spanish researchers in the United Kingdom. In June of that year, Dr. Lorenzo Melchor, current founding president of SRUK/CERU, represented this initial group of researchers in a meeting with Fidel López Álvarez, ministry of the Office of Cultural and Scientific Affairs in the Spanish Embassy in the United Kingdom. During this meeting, Dr. Melchor received full support from the Embassy for any initiative aimed to bring together and give voice to this community of researchers. Right afterwards, the SRUK/CERU Facebook profile became public, and so the coordination of all the Spanish researchers wishing to get involved in the project. After several informal meetings, these researchers celebrated the first official meeting on the 6th of July 2016, where the objectives and working principles of the future Society were discussed, taking the existing Society of Portuguese Researchers, PARSUK, as a model.

During the following months, various informal gatherings (also called “Science Beers”), seminars and meetings organised by the newly formed working groups were held to shape SRUK/CERU’s byelaws. On the 16th of June 2012, the founding assembly was held in the Luis Vives Hall of the Spanish Embassy in London. The rules and statutes were approved, as well as the official name of the society: Sociedad de Científicos Españoles en Reino Unido (CERU) in Spanish, which at that time was already beginning to acquire a certain renown thanks to social networks, and Society of Spanish Researchers in the United Kingdom (SRUK) in English, incorporating the word “Researchers” that defined better the nature of the society.

SRUK/CERU began to grow in social networks, serving as a meeting point and source of information for Spanish researchers in the UK. The society also gradually gained reputation and contacts with various official bodies. In 2012, the London and Cambridge constituencies were established, followed shortly by the South-West in 2013, and thus the number of social and informative events increased, featuring collaborations with Native Scientist and the Spanish Institute Vicente Cañada Blanch’sScience Week, among others. In addition, partnerships and agreements with other sponsoring institutions, like the Ramón Areces Foundation, SRUK/CERU’s main sponsor since its inception, were initiated, which powered the society’s exponential growth.

During 2014, other constituencies (The Midlands, Oxford) were set up to develop new activities and local working groups where Spanish researchers were involved. It was in this year too that the first Travel Grants program was launched to support members attending conferences. Also, SRUK/CERU became a member of the Federation of Spanish Scientific Societies and collaborations were established with the British Spanish Society and the Network of Valencian Universities for the promotion of Research, Development and Innovation.

In 2015, three more constituencies were established (North-West, Scotland and Yorkshire) and numerous agreements were reached with other associations, research centres and institutions. In November, the scientific radio programme “En Fase Experimental” was launched, as a result of the collaboration with the radio station in Spanish Radio X London. In September of this year, SRUK/CERU published the “Report of Recommendations on R&D in Spain for the General Elections 2015”which wwas presented to the main Spanish political parties in order to provide advice on the problems and potential solutions for the researchers in Spain.

During 2016 several milestones in the history of SRUK/CERU were attained: 500 members and 4000 followers on Facebook, a framework agreement with the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT) for collaboration in activities of common interest; with the Banco Santander Foundation to create the Emerging Talent Award; and with NIMGenetics, the first collaboration with a private company. In addition, the blog “1, 2, 3 … Explore!” was launched, with informative articles on SRUK/CERU research and the mentoring program. To culminate these first years of continuous successes, in November SRUK/CERU was awarded the Innovation Award 2016 of the Forum of Innovative Spanish Companies (FEI).

Finally, in 2017 SRUK/CERU has established further collaborations with the Spanish Cancer Research Association (ASEICA) , the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) and the Confederation of Rectors of Spanish Universities (CRUE). The Young Researcher Basque Awards have been introduced in collaboration with Bizkaia Talent. Initiatives such as CineScience and Art and Science, have brought science closer to society thanks to the support of the Fundación Ramón Areces and Fundación Telefónica. The society has also raised concern and participated in numerous events regarding the potential effects that Brexit may have on the Spanish scientific community in the United Kingdom, has published a report on Women in Research, and has participated in demonstrations to promote Science and equality. In March 2017, SRUK/CERU joined the demonstrations of support for the March for Science.

Throughout its five years of existence, SRUK/CERU has organised more than 250 scientific seminars, round tables and outreach events, in addition to 5 Annual Symposia, where all members of the society meet yearly.

Among the researchers who have participated in the events organized by SRUK/CERU there are renowned personalities, such as Valentín Fuster, Ginés Morata, Peter Lawrence, Sir Tom Blundell, Sir Salvador Moncada, Uta FrithJuan Luis ArsuagaFrancisco Mojica, Helen Lee, Alfonso Martínez Arias, Manel EstellerJenny Nelson, Stephen Curry, Laura Lechuga, Pedro EtxenikePedro Duque or Mara Dierssen.

The press, especially the Spanish one, have echoed their activities on more than 200 occasions and the society’s opinion has served as a reference for scientific and current issues, articles and interviews.