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Celebrating Postdoc Appreciation Week 2021

Research Away Day 2020 1

All staff and PGRs at the CMM Away Day 2020 CMM Admin

22 September 2021

It is Postdoc Appreciation Week from 20-24 September 2021 and the School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine would like to celebrate and recognise the hard work and achievements of our postdoctoral community.

Throughout the past 18 months the Covid-19 pandemic has made it much more difficult to work and interact with our colleagues, and our postdocs have done an astounding job of not only keeping things running, but still managing to achieve so much beyond their research projects. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank and celebrate some of the times where our postdocs have gone above and beyond the call of science!

The School has three Postdoc reps, Drs Maia Kavanagh Williams, Daniel Morse and Chris Rice who alongside their research work, report to a number of committees in the school, including the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Part of their role is to foster a community of collaboration, support and improving research culture. They do this by arranging scientific talks, social and networking events. Our Head of School, Professor Anne Ridley said “The CMM postdoc reps have done a fantastic job this year in keeping the postdocs in contact during the ever-changing COVID restrictions. They have also come up with great ideas to improve lives for postdocs in CMM that have led to changes in the School and Faculty. They do this on top of their very busy experimental work.”

Many of our postdocs are also involved in teaching and mentoring other lab members as a generous part of their day-to-day work. Two CMM postdocs, Drs Karen Still and Daniel Morse, have turned teaching into part-time employment: They have taken on roles as lecturers, to work 50/50 alongside their research work. Beyond this, lots of our postdocs are heavily involved in outreach work, inspiring young scientists to pursue their passions.

Many of our postdocs are great communicators of science, you will find many of them on Twitter celebrating science, their research achievements and life as a researcher. For International Women’s Day 2021 Dr Giulia Pilia did a fantastic Twitter takeover, sharing content about her research into cell competition, who inspires her, and her experience as a female researcher.

Further to this some of our postdocs like to get in front of the camera, a few of them have appeared in an episode of Newsnight in 2021 in a story about Covid-19 research. They have also featured in recent promotional filming for CMM which is about the school’s research, staff and our students, both PG and UG (videos currently in production!). Ore Francis featured in series of vaccine posters showing what goes on behind the scenes in COVID-19 research. Alongside this filming, two of our post docs Drs Charlotte Colenso and Karen Still feature in their own videos explaining their Covid-19 research which can be found on the school website.

We would like to acknowledge contributions for all our postdocs, but that does not imply that others not mentioned are doing less. By highlighting a few, we want to acknowledge what so many of of our postdocs contribute everyday to their teams and the school. In this spirit, here are three further examples:

Dr Borko Amulic said: "I wanted to highlight the role of Chris Rice in several areas. Chris has been the direct supervisor of an Mres student (Rachel Jones) over the past year. Chris was also the postdoc rep and active on the EDI committee. Additionally, Chris had a big role to play in a bid by the School to obtain an advanced instrument called a Seahorse Metabolic Flux analyser. He helped write the faculty bid, organised quotes and pricing information and set up the instrument and has been training staff to use it. As a result, the University of Bristol is now fully set up to perform metabolic studies, which is currently a topic of major interest in biomedical research."

Professor Andrew Davidson said:  "I think Maia Kavangh Williams in my lab is a good candidate. Aside from the tremendous work she has done during the pandemic, underpinning SARS-CoV-2 CL3 work in my lab and collaborating with many she is involved in many extra activities.  She has been one of the Pathway 2/ Postodoc reps for the last couple of years and organised a number of events including social and scientific talks/discussions. She was preparing to organise the UK virology meeting that was disrupted by the pandemic. Maia also organises many activities in the lab and is a mentor to students in the lab."

Dr Seana Duggan: Seana Duggan featured in one of the Wellcome Trust online conference sessions: Research culture: putting change into action ourselves, she asked her question regarding what training should early careers do to support career development (watch from 31 mins to see her question). However, as an early career researcher it is well worth a watching the full session to help understand research culture.   She has also received an award from The Microbiology Society as an ‘Outstanding Reviewer’, see it on Twitter.   Further to this, she is part of a new community funded by GW4 Building Communities. The project “New Drugs to tackle AMR” brings together researchers from Bristol, Bath, Cardiff and Exeter to rationally design and test new drugs targeting Gram positive bacterial cell wall components.

Further information

Information about Postdoc Appreciation week, events and support for postdocs can be found on the University website. Why not use this opportunity to thank your postdoc/researcher, you can use the Thanks and Recognition Wall to show your appreciation.

Additonally follow us on Twitter to see the latest news and updates from the School.

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