CienciaUK: the scientific career in the UK

· Madrid, Spain

The last 17th of November the 4th edition of the workshop “CienciaUK 2017: La carrera investigadora y otras profesiones científicas en Reino Unido” was celebrated in Madrid. This workshop was focused in professional development, providing information and guidance related to the different scientific careers available in the United Kingdom.

CienciaUK 2017 took place in the Fundación Ramón Areces headquarters and the workshop started with the introduction of its director, Raimundo Pérez-Hernández y Torra, Borja Izquierdo, Acting director of the Fundation for Science and Technology (FECYT) and Estrella Luna-Diez, president of the Society of Spanish Researchers in the United Kingdom (SRUK/CERU).

 

Image: From left to right: Borja Izquierdo, Raimundo Pérez-Hernández y Torra and Estrella Luna-Diez

The workshop provided information and guidance through the speakers personal experiences: The academic career in the United Kingdom, as well as its similarities and differences compared to the Spanish were covered by Judit García-González (How to obtain and perform a PhD thesis in the United Kingdom), Alejandra Sel (How to do a post-doc) and Eva Hevia (How to consolidate in academia). All of them advised the participants on how to advance in academia: Judit recommended that during the search and completion of a PhD it is very important “to be passionate about the area in which you work”. Regarding the search for the best laboratory for a postdoc, Alejandra recommended “taking into account the productivity of the research group you are going to join”. Eva described her impressive academic career and compared the programmes in Spain and the United Kingdom to be establishes as an independent researcher. Eva said that the most difficult decision of her life was to renounce her Ramón y Cajal contract at the University of Oviedo and return to the United Kingdom thanks to a Fellow of the Royal Society. However, she said “it was the best for my career”. This session finished with Lorenzo Melchor, who is the Scientific Coordinator FECYT at the Embassy of Spain in London, and presented the guide of the Spanish researcher in the United Kingdom.

The next session was focused on scientific mobility and research in industry: María Barreira González and Patricia Forcén described their experiences in the biotechnology and chemical industries, respectively. María described why she started to work in industry, stating that “one should not underestimate the skills that are obtained, apart from the scientific ones”. Patricia provided an inspiring talk in which she highlighted that “the best job is the one that makes you wake up happy every day”, encouraging young researchers to “try new things if you are not feeling completely passionate about what you are doing”. Sara Cebrián, Science and Innovation Attaché Spain, explained how the science and innovation system of the United Kingdom works and its relationship with Europe, in particular during the Brexit process and assured that “the British government wants the European talent to stay and is working for it”.

The afternoon session provided guidance on scientific careers outside the research field: Irene Fernández Ruiz spoke about her editorial work in the journal nature reviews Cardiology and how, after a few years of research experience, she realized that she “loved science but not the laboratory work”. Lorenzo de la Rica shared his experience in the management of scholarship programmes and projects in the private foundation. He also stressed the importance of scientific associationism since “Scientific activism is fundamental to change things”. Sandra Esteras Chopo explained her work on innovation management and collaborations with companies at the university Imperial College London. Sandra defined his work as “helping to transfer academic research to the industry.” They all described what their work consists of and what were the motivations for which they started to work on other professions in the scientific field. Finally, Miquel Costa Ferrando described his experience as an entrepreneur and director of scientific companies in both Spain and the United Kingdom, the difficulties he faced and everything he has learnt these years about the “loneliness of the entrepreneur”.

 

Image: Speakers and coordinators of the workshop CienciaUK2017. From left to right: Eva Hevia, Maria Barreira, Patricia Forcén, Estrella Luna-Diez, Lorenzo de la Rica, Sara Cebrían. Upper part: Irene Fernández Ruiz, Eduardo Oliver, Judit García-González, Lorenzo Melchor, Alejandra Sel and Sandra Esteras Chopo.

 

More than 100 students and researchers attended this workshop, especially undergraduate and PhD students who came from different parts of the country, as well as post-doctoral researchers and principal investigators interested in the United Kingdom. All of them had the opportunity to ask questions and get to know the speakers during the breaks. This workshop offered a great opportunity to learn more about the different scientific career opportunities in the United Kingdom. At the same time, the attendees responded to a survey in which they stated that 56% are considering moving to the United Kingdom. However, when asked about the Brexit perception, 71.64% of the respondents consider that the United Kingdom is rather or much less attractive than before Brexit. Their main concern was whether the rights of European citizens and the mobility facilities to enter the United Kingdom will remain after Brexit.