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September 21, 2015

Lessons from Naturejobs Career Expo conference

Follow-up to Naturejobs Career Expo 2015 from CES PHD Support Group

Last week, I went to Naturejobs the Career Expo. Here are three lessons I took from the accompanying conference:

An excellent panel discussion

I attended an excellent panel discussion on “Careers in academia: the variety” with Chairperson : Anna Price, Queen Mary University of London; Speakers : Frances Ashcroft, University of Oxford; James Hadfield, CRI; Frederique Guesdon, University of London; Lisa Fox, Institute of Cancer Research.

Among the speakers was Dame Professor Frances Ashcroft from Oxford University who gave us an intimate peek at her life as a student then researcher and world-renowned public speaker.

After the discussion I asked Professor Ashcroft about publishing in prestigious journals. According to her, she managed to publish in Nature and in Science at the start of her academic career! I was naturally impressed. Especially when she was honest enough to say that she didn’t have much to publish about when she finished her PhD. In fact, she claimed that all her experiments were “a disaster” and that her results were contradicting her assumptions! So I asked her to explain how in the world was she able to publish in such highly esteemed journals when apparently her experiments were such failures? Here’s what she had to say.

How to get published

Prof. AshcroftThe secret to publishing is threefold, persistence, collaboration and timing. The most important amongst the three is persistence. Professor Ashcroft found herself lost after submitting her PhD. She knew she had to get published in the most prestigious journal she could gain access to but she didn’t have the proper results to do so. So she applied tor a postdoc position and focused her entire time to getting that first publication. During her postdoc she replicated her experiments and again the results weren’t ideal but that didn’t stop her, she collaborated with another postdoc in her field and managed to get a paper published out of this it. Once the first paper was published her second was significantly easier. Three decades later and she has some 400 publications in her name.

The secret to publishing is threefold; persistence, collaboration and timing

Professor Ashcroft is a Royal Society GlaxoSmithKline Research Professor at the University Laboratory of Physiology at the University of Oxford. She is a fellow of Trinity College, Oxford and is a director of the Oxford Centre for Gene Function. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Society and has numerous honours and awards to her name, the chief among which having been appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) 'for services to Medical Science and the Public Understanding of Science' in the 2015 Queen's Birthday Honours.

When answering me about the secret of her gaining access to world-renowned journals she admitted that a bit of luck and lot of hard work can go along way. She said that back in 1978 (when she had her PhD) it was relatively easier to get published in journals such as Nature, but that doesn't mean that everyone who submitted their paper were accepted. She still had to work hard and present her results in he best way she knew how.

Read more about Professor Ashcroft at University of Oxford, Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics

Photo is Professor Ashcroft courtesy of

From Academia to Industry

Jones during presentationI also attended the keynote speech which was about leaving academia into the industry. The speech was titles: “Escaping the Ivory Tower - how I left academia and got a proper job”. The speaker was Phill Jones, PhD.

According to

Phill Jones is Head of Publisher Outreach at Digital Science. He has spent much of his current career working on projects intended to accelerate science through improved scholarly communication. He moved to his current position from ReadCube in 2014, where he worked as VP of Business Development. Prior to that he built the editorial department at Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE) as their first Editorial Director. Phill is a member of a number of publishing industry committees including the STM association early career publishing committee and tech trends executive board.

What Mr Jones was focusing on convening is that we as researchers get lost in our own research world and forget to think the next step after fishing our current project. Be it a PhD thesis, an MSc project, a research paper … etc, we need to learn to keep an eye on the job market or the “industry” as well as doing our research. His recommendations included advising graduate students to look for a job before starting the writing up of their theses.

Don’t get consumed by your research and keep an eye on the industry

Read more about Mr Jones at

keynote speech

September 19, 2015

Naturejobs Career Expo 2015

Writing about web page


Yesterday I attended the Naturejobs the Career Expo,the UK’s largest annual career fair for young researchers.

An exceptional event in an exceptional venue

business_design_centre.jpgThe exposition is an annual showcase of global career opportunities. It takes place in a few cities around the world and I just experienced their 9th time exposition in London.

One their website, Nature, wrote about the exposition that it “offers young, talented researchers an excellent opportunity to meet a diverse selection of national and international employers from academic institutions and scientific industries, such as pharmaceutical organizations, digital technology companies, science publishing and more”.

Nature being a very prestigious scientific journal I was expecting a large number of presenters and an equally large number of attendees. Which was the case. Once we arrived we had to stay in a very long line for about 20 minutes just to gain access to the main hall. The exposition took place in the Business Design Centre (previously The Royal Agricultural Hall) one of London’s most popular conference and exhibition venues.

Along the exhibition there were a few workshops, a Keynote and a panel discussion. I attended the keynote, one workshop and the panel discussion.

Exhibitor highlights

dsc_0953.jpgAmong the many exhibitor I met yesterday. Here are my favourates:

With more than 700 jobs available each month, academics is the leading website for research careers in higher education and R&D. For researchers who are working or looking to work in Germany and other European countries, offers job opportunities in industry, research institutes and universities. Beyond its job listings, offers relevant advice for your doctorate or postdoc career, for example how to apply for a PHD at graduate school in Germany. The guide to prizes and scholarships can open up new funding opportunities for you. Each week will send you a job newsletter with opportunities that match your profile. Register for free and make sure not to miss any career opportunities. Visit

Careers in Baden-Württemberg

There is no other region in Europe where science counts as such a vital part of the society. A share of 5.1 % of the GDP is invested in R&D and Baden-Württemberg also has the highest share of employees in R&D-intensive branches of industry (17 %). Moreover, with over 70 institutions of higher education and over 100 non-university research institutions Baden-Württemberg has one of the most diverse landscapes of higher education and research in Germany. The state boasts one quarter of the research capacities of major German research institutions such as 12 institutes of the Max Planck Society and 16 establishments of the Fraunhofer Society. Visit:

European Commission, EURAXESS – Researchers in Motion

EURAXESS — Researchers in Motion is a key initiative in supporting the European Union’s commitment to removing the barriers to free movement of knowledge within Europe, to strengthening cross-border mobility of researchers, students, scientists and academic staff, and to providing researchers with better careers structures.

EURAXESS is a pan-European unique initiative providing access to a complete range of information and support services for European and non-European researchers wishing to pursue research careers in Europe.

Composed of four complementary pillars (Jobs, Services, Rights and Links) EURAXESS offers access to the job market; assists researchers in advancing their careers in another European country and supports scientific organisations in their search for outstanding research talent. EURAXESS is a truly pan-European initiative, supported by 40 participating countries across Europe.


me after leaving the Swiss boothGerman Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) is one of the world’s largest funding organisations for the promotion of international academic exchange and scientific cooperation. Offering more than 250 funding programmes the DAAD awards individual scholarships to foreign and German students, student trainees and interns, graduates, academics and scientists. Visit:

Max Planck Society

For more than 60 years, the Max Planck Society has stood for exceptional, results-oriented basic research in the life sciences, natural sciences and the humanities. Its 83 research institutes enjoy a strong reputation in Germany and abroad and have produced 17 Nobel Prize Laureates as well as 52 Leibniz Prize Recipients to date. Max Planck researchers continually advance into new dimensions of knowledge – they do this in fields that have not yet found their way into university curricula, or that require elaborate equipment, large-scale devices or special libraries. They publish around 13,000 articles in scientific journals per year, are networked around the world, train junior scientists, file patent applications, generate revenues through licenses, set up companies and create jobs. As of January 1, 2013, the workforce of the Max Planck Society consisted of more than 17.000 employees and more than 5,000 guest scientists.

IMPRS for Neural Circuits The common focus of the International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS) for Neural Circuits will be the understanding of neural circuits. This ambitious objective will require analyses at the molecular, cellular, multi-cellular, network and behavioral levels, with the full understanding that macroscopic phenomena can be scale-dependent, and that reductionism is not always sufficient as a method. IMPRS for Neural Circuits Faculty is coordinated by the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Brain Research and also includes Frankfurt Neuroscientist from the MPI of Biophysics, the Goethe University and the university clinic, the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies and the Ernst Strüngmann Institute. Offering, besides an excellent research environment, an educational program consisting of a large variety of different courses like modern topics and modern techniques in neuroscience, transferable skills and language courses. Besides this offer rotations, an exchange program and a PhD retreat. For more information. Visit:

Open Research@npg

Nature Publishing Group has consistently been an early mover in embracing open access. The portfolio now has 70 journals with an open access option, ranging from multidisciplinary titles such as Nature Communications and Scientific Data to highly specialized titles such as the Nature Partner Journals series.

Open access models and open research policies have long been at the heart of Nature Publishing Group's business development and strategic thinking at Nature Publishing Group (NPG). Together with Palgrave Macmillan, offering authors and their funders the option to publish open access across all publication formats: journals and books. Visit:

Researchers in Schools

Researchers in Schools (RIS) is an innovative teacher training programme that recruits PhD graduates and trains them to teach in state secondary schools. The programme offers a generous salary uplift for three years, meaning that participants receive an annual salary of up to £38,900 (London) from day one. As well as this salary uplift, the programme offers participants one day per week ‘off-timetable’ in which they receive bespoke CPD training, carry out their own academic research and deliver a range of subject enhancement activities within their school. Led by an award-winning educational charity – The Brilliant Club – the RIS Programme is designed to ensure that participants are equipped to deploy the expertise they have as PhD graduates to the benefit of pupils, schools and universities.

What I took from the exhibition

I have met a lot of people from all around Europe, including represents and/or employers from many universities, research centres and even embassies. It was a great networking opportunity where you learn to enhance you employability and maximize your career prospects. I also got a lot of goodies!

I will be writing about what I learnt form the workshops about publishing in prestigious journals and the Creative Commons (CC) license. I am currently waiting for one presenter to send me her slides. So keep an eye on the blog or on the Facebook page.

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