SCI Travel Bursaries Foster Vital Networking and Career Opportunities for the Early Career Scientist

27 Aug 2015

For several years SCI travel bursaries have enabled recipients to build experience and confidence through their poster and oral presentations whilst gaining an insight into a new country or culture. Through their attendance at conferences or site visits, they learn about new cutting-edge research, connect with eminent speakers and network with fellow scientists, engineers and students, thus increasing the opportunity for future research collaborations. Some are fortunate enough to gain career and publishing opportunities, which they would not otherwise have had if it were not for the support of an SCI travel bursary.

The winners from the October 2014 SCI travel bursary application round (for travel between 1 January and 30 June 2015) have now attended their conferences and completed their site visits. Read on to discover where they went and what they got up to.

We are now accepting applications for Rideal Travel Bursaries (for colloid and surface science). If you think you’ve got what it takes, please apply using the link below.


In late January, Yajie Gao (Imperial College London) travelled to Florida to attend the 39th International Conference and Expo on Advanced Ceramics and Composites (ICACC’15). During the congress, global business and technology leaders, scientists and researchers met to share ideas and visions of the future for advanced ceramics, armor ceramics, solid oxide fuel cells, ceramic coatings, bioceramics and more. Thanks to SCI’s generous support via the Richardson Bursary, Yajie was able to present her PhD work on the ‘Structure and Properties Study of Calcium Phosphorus Apatite’. Yajie writes, ‘It was a valuable experience to share my recent work with these talented participants from different backgrounds and receive useful feedback during the discussion afterward.’ By attending the five-day conference she was able to connect with the speakers in person and it also afforded her an excellent opportunity to network with other researchers and early career scientists. As Yajie explains, ‘I found the conversations could consistently help each other uncover ideas and even spark inspiration in further work.’ Overall, Yajie sums up her conference experience as an ‘ideal opportunity to meet other scientists, engineers, and young students working in relevant fields to build an effective network’ and she believes that it will bring her ‘many benefits for [her] future study and career development.’ More


In February, Mohd Nazren Bin Radzuan (University of Manchester) visited Professor Ibrahim Banat’s laboratory at the School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Ulster, for a two-week secondment. Professor Banat is a recognised world expert in biosurfactants research, including their use in pharmaceutical and environmental applications. The aim of Mohd’s visit was to expand his general knowledge of biosurfactants and learn more about purification and characterisation of rhamnolipids, microbial surfactants (biosurfactant) from the glycolipid family which is the focus of his PhD. Mohd found he was particularly interested in the work undertaken on the application of biosurfactant as anti-cancer and anti-fungal agents in the pharmaceutical area. As Mohd explains, ‘Seeing this added value to the application of biosurfactants and the explanation, discussion and observation of [this] work really motivated me in my research.’ Towards the end of his visit, Mohd gave a research seminar entitled ‘Production of Biosurfactant by Pseudomonas aeruginosa ATCC 9027 using cooking oil as a carbon source’ which generated many useful discussions and recommendations for the continuation of his PhD work. The visit to the University of Ulster has enabled Mohd to develop his skills and competencies and has helped him expand and gain new knowledge and a different perspective in his research area. The visit also enhanced his ‘personal and intellectual maturity through networking with other researchers’ and gave him ‘vital experience that has motivated and better equipped [him] to face future challenges of [his] PhD.’ More


Between 10-14 March Bhavish Patel (Imperial College London) attended the four-day International Symposium on Alcohol Fuels (ISAF 2015) in Gwangju, South Korea. He particularly found interesting at the conference, the presentations on thermochemical processing and catalytic transformation, which complement his research area on investigating wet processing routes for algal biomass conversion. Bhavish writes of the conference, ‘...there was a very diverse group of attendees from different sectors (and countries) with whom I was able to interact and get a sense of my future career path. I made several key contacts that will certainly be very useful once I have completed my doctorate.’ Excitingly for Bhavish, the presentation of his work culminated in an invitation for a review paper in a leading subject matter journal, which, in addition to the report prepared based on his presented work means that he will see two manuscripts published as a result of his attendance at the conference. More

Towards the end of March, Ditte Hobbs (University of Reading) travelled to Boston to attend the Experimental Biology Conference. The conference bought together scientists from six disciplines and from world leading institutions and featured plenary and award lectures pre-meeting workshops, oral and poster sessions, on-site career services and exhibitions. The event was attended by around 14,000 scientists, and was by far the largest conference Ditte had ever experienced. The multidisciplinary nature of the conference meant that presentations encompassed a broad range of specialist subjects, including anatomy, physiology, pathology, biochemistry, nutrition and pharmacology and meant that Ditte was able to attend talks that she wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to attend. Due to the large number of delegates, the poster sessions were bustling with people, making an excellent environment to showcase her research on ‘Identifying dietary patterns associated with dairy consumption in British children.’ During her poster session Ditte had many interesting conversations with researchers from academia and industry. In particular, Ditte notes that she met with two researchers from a leading dairy company and ‘our discussions during the meeting in Boston have led to a future research collaboration, which I am very excited about.’ More


In mid-April, Francesca Bryden (University of Hull) flew to Portugal to attend the Antibody/Targeted-Drug Conjugates (ATDC) conference. ATDC was an inaugural conference and the first meeting in the area of antibody-drug conjugates, aiming to bring together both academics and industrial chemists to engage in discussion regarding the pipeline of conjugate development. Francesca was able to showcase her work on porphyrin synthesis via an oral presentation. As a result of her talk she was able to engage in discussion with several researchers, who will be able to assist her with ways she can diversify and further her research in more clinically relevant directions. Not only did the conference provide her with an invaluable opportunity to learn about the cutting edge research taking place in her field of study, but she also ‘had plenty of opportunities to network with scientists from both academia and industry.’ Francesca explains why these networking opportunities are so valuable: ‘They have allowed me to lay the foundations for future collaborative work between our research group and both other academic research groups and possible industrial collaborators.’ More


Florida seemed to be a popular choice for conferences as Ashok Patel (Ghent University) also travelled there to attend the 106th AOCS (American Oil Chemists Society) meeting in Orlando, between 2 and 6 May. There he met with some of the world leaders in Lipid Science and Technology and found that the technical sessions and informal division events gave him the chance to interact with researchers active in the field of food lipid science and technology. Whilst at the conference, he gave an oral presentation on colloidal inorganic particle-based oleogels and bigels. As a result of this presentation he has been invited to take part in a short research stay at Hiroshima University in Japan. Other highlights for Ashok included meeting with young students at the poster sessions who he might consider hiring in the future, and being invited to write a chapter on ‘Biopolymer based edible oleogels’ for a book which will be published by Wiley Blackwell in early 2016. More

At the end of May, Laura Stoica (University of Leeds) travelled the furthest of our travel bursary recipients, to Singapore, to attend the International Symposium of Applications of Ferroelectrics (ISAF). The aim of ISAF was to bring together participants from industry, research institutes and academia. Science findings concerning piezoelectric, ferroelectric, pyroelectric and dielectric materials together with their technological developments such as sensors, actuators, transducers, memories or medical devices were presented and discussed. During the conference Laura was able to initiate collaborative links with researchers who specialise in her PhD on piezeocrystals and she was also able to make connections with crystal growers around the world as well as with industry. Laura explains that ‘by attending the conference, I was able not only to share my current work and exchange interdisciplinary ideas with other participants, but I have also indentified my career path options.’ More


In early June Hikaru Graeme Joliffe (University of Edinburgh) flew to Copenhagen to attend the 12th Process Systems Engineering (PSE2015) and 25th European Symposium on Computer Aided Process Engineering (ESCAPE25) Joint International Conference. This prestigious event featured an extensive schedule with many attendees from both academia and industry. There were four plenary lectures, 43 keynote presentations, 191 oral presentations and 312 poster presentations, with over 50 countries represented. Hikaru gave his presentation on the second full-day of the conference on ‘Plantwide design and economic evaluation of two Continuous Pharmaceutical Manufacturing (CPM) cases: Ibuprofen and Artemisinin.’ His presentation was well received and later that day he was invited to an after-hours event hosted by one of the keynote speakers (who he later exchanged contact details with). Hikaru notes that by attending the conference he ‘reaffirmed the importance and vibrancy of the Process Systems Engineering field of research. In addition to new insights into established areas such as oil and gas there was exciting new research, particularly in biotechnology and pharmaceutical technologies.’ By attending at the event he gained invaluable experience, knowledge and connections and it also ‘immeasurably contributed to [his] growth as a doctoral researcher and expanded [his] career opportunities.’ More

If you would like to get in touch with any of our travel bursary recipients then you can do so via the Members' Directory (you will need to sign in to view).

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