College of Scholars' Lunch 2014

28 Jan 2014

Our third Scholars' lunch took place on 21 January 2014. The purpose of these lunches is to present the new Scholars with their certificates and introduce them to the support and opportunities that we offer. Equally important is for us to get their views on what they would like us to offer and how to move the Society forward.

There were 35 participants, including six new Scholars, five past Scholars and seven other early career people who are active in SCI groups and felt they could also benefit from the presentations. The past Scholars and ECSSC members realised that 'there is no such thing as a free lunch' since they all had to contribute to the talks. However on this occasion it was free, thanks to the generosity of Sir Geoffrey Allen in sponsoring it!

Dr Andy Merritt, MRC and CoS Patron presented the certificates and Prof Alan Heaton, CoS Principal and Chair of the Early Career Support Sub-Committee (ECSSC) was then able to give each Scholar a copy of Usborne's Illustrated Dictionary of Science, courtesy of BASF.

Alan then gave an update on the College's recent events and future plans. The next presentation was 'Scholars and SCI Publications' where ways in which Scholars could contribute were outlined by Tarit Mukhopadhyay, Publications Advisory Committee (PAC) and Ray Boucher of Wiley. Natalie Fey (PAC) then described the use of social media to build a profile.

Three former Scholars, Aditi Borkar of Cambridge University, Kevin Back of Pfizer and ECSSC, and Simon Beaumont of Durham University described their careers and how their SCI Scholarships had helped them, in a session headed 'What I Did Next'.

Prof Jenny Mordue Luntz, of Aberdeen University and ECSSC, used her considerable experience of mentoring with a guide on how to set this up. She also emphasised that the mentee should take control of the process.

Ben Wahab of Sussex University and ECSSC, talked about working at the interface between industry and academia, firstly for a company of four staff and Sheffield University and now for Sussex University but interacting strongly with industrial projects - an excellent illustration of SCI's tag line, 'where science meets business'.

Tim Reynolds, Consultant and ECSSC, then led a lively general discussion covering topics such as how are links with RIGs and TIGs working; how do early career people use social networks and how should SCI; what else can SCI do to support Scholars and early career people? This generated a number of very good ideas which ECSSC will consider.

The meeting concluded with an informal wine and nibbles session where participants could not only question the speakers, but also colleagues who had come along to share their experience and expertise. These included three new Trustees (Inna Baigozina-Goreli, Mike Bushell and Harry Swan) plus Stephen East of the Fine Chemicals Group, Andy Kerridge of the Food Group and Lisa Mitchell of the Colloid and Surface Chemistry Group. We were also delighted to welcome Dr Juliet Corbett, SCI's new Executive Director.

The feedback showed that this had been a most useful and enjoyable event ('the best SCI event I have attended' from one very active early career person!). It was altogether very positive, with the least positive comments being: the event should have been longer, and breakout groups for discussions would be good. ECSSC will take these onboard when planning next year's event!

Finally thanks to all who participated, our speakers, and particularly my ECSSC colleagues and SCI staff for their support.

Alan Heaton
Principal, College of Scholars

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