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Ongoing work and progress

PDC Representatives' Network 2021-22

Members of the PDC Representatives' Network contribute to directly addressing some of our priorities and Researcher Development Concordat Actions, by joining specific working groups.

Here we provide a list of the working groups for 2021-22, their objectives, progress and members.

This page will be updated with 2022-23 priorities soon.

Yearly PDC activity reports and Researcher Development Concordat updates are available on the Researcher Development Concordat page.

Career Options Working Group

Main aim of the Career Options Working Group:

Showcase career options to postdocs in a range of disciplines, notably by linking with postdoc alumni and/or other contacts with careers in and out of academia.

Progress (August 2022):

Career Insight Interview series organised and hosted by members of the group: monthly online sessions in which two professionals share information on their role and personal experience navigating their career post-PhD (open to all). 

Sessions were held on 25 Mar, 27 May, and 24 Jun. Another interview focused on entrepreneurship was organised following advice from the group on 5 May, and complements other events from Nov 2021, and ECRday2022 organised by Dr Alison Garden in May. A school-based career event is also being organised in the School of Mathematics and Physics on 31 May. The career interviews attracted a total of 100 attendees and was well-received (average rating 4.7/5), and ECRday2022 was attended by 37 to 166 people (depending on sessions) and also a great success (rated 4.7/5).

Career interviews that have been recorded have been (or will be) edited into episodes of the PDC podcast, 'The theory of the postdoc evolution'.

Members:

  • Dr Simon Cameron, School of Biological Sciences
  • Dr Ciaran McCoy, School of Biological Sciences
  • Dr Ryan Milligan, School of Mathematics and Physics
  • Dr David Scott, School of Nursing and Midwifery
  • Professor Gerd Wagner, School of Pharmacy
  • Dr Claire Tonry, Wellcome Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine
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Leadership Working Group

Main aim of the Leadership Working Group:

Shape a new Postdoctoral Leadership Programme, providing input on the content, format, selection process and potential additional resources to enable postdocs to develop their leadership skills.

Progress (August 2022):

The content, eligibility criteria and application process have been designed by members, who also were involved in selecting participants. The new Postdoctoral Leadership Programme took place in Riddel Hall on 21 Jun and 5 Jul 2022 (the second session was moved online due to the facilitator testing positive for COVID). The feedback for this first iteration was very positive, with a rating of 4.6/5 and 100% of participants recommending it. Notably, all respondents felt that learning from the course could be applied to their current and future roles, and potentially other aspects of life. Further feedback will be collected a few months after the programme, in order to assess longer-term benefits and plan a second iteration in 2022-23.

Members:

  • Dr Prabhath Piyasena, Centre for Public Health
  • Dr Neha Mehta, School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering 
  • Dr Hiroki Shin, School of History, Anthropology and Philosophy and Politics
  • Dr Malcolm Brown, School of Nursing and Midwifery 
  • Dr Melissa LaBonte Wilson, The Patrick G. Johnson Centre for Cancer Research
  • Dr Gareth Robinson, School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work
  • Dr Amy Dumigan, Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine 
  • Dr Vijay Tiwari, Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine

 

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National Postdoc Appreciation Week Working Group

Main aim of the National Postdoc Appreciation Week Working Group:

Discuss and organise an event/events (and potentially other initiatives) for all Queen’s postdocs to take place during National Postdoc Appreciation Week (e.g., postdoc showcase event).

This is a postdoc-led group and members are fully in charge; the PDC provides insight and support as required by the members.

Progress (August 2022):

A one-day Postdoc Showcase event is being planned for Sep 21 at the Wellington Park Hotel. Guest speakers have been invited to talk on the theme of 'Resilience and innovation', and lightening talks and posters by postdocs are scheduled, covering Queen’s five strategic research areas. There will be prizes for participants and plenty of opportunities to network, including during an happy hour at the end of the day. The PDC Postdoc Awards will be awarded at this occasion.

Information about individual researchers is being collected (for those interested) as part of the registration process and profiles will be created and shared on social media during NPAW, as well as displayed in the poster room during the Showcase.

In addition to the showcase, the PDC has also coordinated the PDC Postdoc Awards, which will be presented during the Showcase. A total of 88 nominations were received (59 in MHLS, 16 in EPS, 13 in AHSS), including some of them submitted on behalf of multiple individuals.

Members:

  • Dr Darren Conway, School of Biological Sciences (left Queen's in May)
  • Dr Claire Wright, School of Law
  • Dr Matthew Streeter, School of Mathematics and Physics 
  • Dr Ife Bolaji, School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
  • Dr Behnam Firoozi Nejad, School of Natural and Built Environment 
  • Dr Niall Byrne, School of Pharmacy

 

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Supervision Working Group

Main aim of the Supervision Working Group:

Identify means to enable and recognise contributions of postdocs to the supervision of undergraduate and master taught students, in a way that is consistent across the university. This would add to previous work to enable and recognise contributions to the supervision of PhD students (see Assistant Supervisor role).

Progress (August 2022):

The group has identified key areas to focus on based on an initial scoping exercise of current practices and opinions across schools, as well as a survey of postdocs. Recommendations have been drafted and consultation is ongoing with relevant departments, groups and committees. The current goal is to get a final proposal accepted by committees by the end of 2022.

Separately from this project, but aligned with supervision in general, the PDC also processed 43 Assistant Supervisor appointments in 2021-22, recognising significant contributions to the supervision of PhD students. It was the first year this initiative was available in the EPS and AHSS Faculties, and the third year in MHLS. Following an update of Qsis (university students’ system), the PDC was able to record all appointments on the system.

Members:

  • Dr Linda Oyama, School of Biological Sciences
  • Dr Charlene McShane, Centre for Public Health
  • Dr Victoria Cairnduff, Centre for Public Health  
  • Dr Ahmed Ibrahim Osman, School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering 
  • Dr Georgios Karakonstantis, School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences
  • Dr Philip Boland, School of Natural and Built Environment
  • Dr Lauren Cairns, Patrick G. Johnson Centre for Cancer Research 

 

 
 
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Work-Life Balance Working Group

Main aim of the Work-Life Balance Working Group:

Identify and develop good practice guidance and advice for postdocs and their managers, in order to mitigate current issues that affect the work-life balance of postdocs (e.g., linked to working hours and other working patterns, time off, communications and “always-on” culture etc.), and improve research culture as a result.

Progress (August 2022):

The group identified the main issues that may affect the work-life balance of postdocs, and discussed recommendations, advice, and examples of good practice for postdocs and their managers. These, as well as signposting to relevant university policies, have been drafted and, following ongoing consultation with People & Culture, will be released as a webpage on the PDC website (expected by the end of 2022).

Future work also includes developing a plan to effectively disseminate them.

Members:

  • Dr Áine Aventin, School of Nursing and Midwifery
  • Dr Annemarie Millar, School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work
  • Dr Estelle Lowry, School of Natural and Built Environment
  • Dr Gillian Carter, School of Nursing and Midwifery (left the Network and Working Group in August 2022)
  • Dr Paul Toner, School of Psychology
  • Dr Sara Lorimer, School of Psychology

 

 
 
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PDC Actions 2021-22

Some of our actions are delivered by the PDC, without a direct involvement of the network (but taking their feedback and suggestions into account of course!). Some such priorities are listed below around main themes.

All actions (for year 1, 2021-22, and the following two years) in our institutional Researcher Development Concordat Action Plan are available on our Researcher Development Concordat page.

Welcoming new research staff

Main aim:

Help new postdocs and research staff settle in their new environment and role to improve their experience, ensuring they are aware of the main resources, support and policies applying to them.

Progress (August 2022):

The PDC has introduced a 'New Postdoc induction' online in Mar 2022, and in person in May 2022. They received great feedback from participants (rated 5/5 and recommended by 100%), and will be organised approximately every 2 months (in person) from September 2022. A 'New postdoc welcome booklet' packed with practical information was also developed and will be updated regularly. The PDC now also holds a 'stand' (virtual so far) at all the all staff welcome events, and signposting to these resources is systematically sent to new research staff when they are recruited.

Additional resources in this space have been/ will be introduced at a more local level (Centre, School and/ or Faculty), such as welcoming buddy schemes, local inductions etc.

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Review of Learning & Development offering

Main aim:

Identify and comprehensively regroup and advertise Learning and Development opportunities relevant to postdocs across Queen's, as well as identify and fill gaps in the provision.

Progress (August 2022):

relevant opportunities were collected from multiple departments around Queen's and added to the PDC website, both as a list of core workshops and in thematic development pages. A gap analysis was carried out, highlighting that additional provision around leadership development, career progression (academic or not) and supervision. New core workshops were introduced as a result by the PDC and Organisational Development (see details below).

New workshops introduced in 2021-22:

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One-to-One Support

Main aim:

Help individuals develop their career in a personalised manner, notably providing feedback on application and interview preparation.

Progress (August 2022):

Alice in the PDC now provides one-to-one meetings to research staff. In 2021-22, she has spent more than 55 hours personally supporting research staff, in 35 instances. These included feedback on CVs and job applications, interview preparation or other topics, and was provided via meetings, mock interview panels, or by email.

Feedback demonstrates that such support is helpful, with 100% of respondents having received interview preparation feeling more prepared to attend their real interview, and 100% of respondents having received support with their CV or application feeling it was improved as a result. All respondents recommend it and have rated interview preparation and job application support 5/5.

This new offering is added to other personalised support (career discussion with consultant for participants of the 'Developing Your Research Career' programme), and fellowship support from the Research Development team (one-to-one meetings related to funding applications, proposal feedback and fellowship mock interviews).