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Fellowships and Postdoctoral Career Development

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1 Fellowships and Postdoctoral Career Development
Dr Michael Ball BBSRC Thank you for coming along to the talk / hosting us today / etc

2 BBSRC funding totals around £420M p.a. (08/09)
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council Our Mission (Royal Charter) is: to support high-class science and research training, and to promote knowledge transfer in support of bio-based industries and public engagement in bioscience. BBSRC funding totals around £420M p.a. (08/09) Slide covers main messages Note: we are planning to change the picture so dont worry about these ones- they exemplify the range of remit STAKEHOLDERS ACADEMIA INDUSTRY PUBLIC GOVERNMENT

3 Training highly-skilled scientists A significant investment
Much of BBSRC’s funding is directed to supporting researchers in the early stages of their careers and we have a responsibility to ensure that they are cared for. BBSRC funds around 2200 PhD students and 1900 postdocs at any one time

4 What are we training people for?
The wider HE Biosciences community Staff: 10,135 Ian From: HESA, Students (Biological Sciences, excl. Psychology and Sports Science; plus Agriculture and Veterinary degree students) Postgraduates: 14,325 Undergraduates: 64,360 From: HESA, Students (Biological Sciences, excl. Psychology and Sports Science; plus Agriculture and Veterinary degree students)

5 Career Development in HE
Career ‘pyramid’ in HE Biosciences Professors: 1,190 Senior Lecturers: 1,710 Lecturers: 1,720 Postdoc Researchers: 5,515 From: HESA, Resources (Biosciences Cost Centre)

6 Postdoc Opportunities
Postdoc positions represent a major BBSRC investment in the development of scientists You need to have a lecturer position to apply for BBSRC grant funding But you can write a proposal with a PI and be funded as the ‘researcher co-investigator’ But there are risks as well as opportunities to being a postdoc! Finding the right postdoc opportunity is crucial And important not to see it as a simple stepping stone into academia

7 Postdoctoral Researchers
Culture change in the employment of postdoctoral researchers We see this as crucial to ensuring that the postdoc career phase is attractive, but also prepares researchers for a wider range of opportunities beyond academia The new Concordat is key here Vitae (replacing UKGrad) now supports career development for postdocs as well as PhD students BBSRC has introduced a new grant assessment criteria for the role of grant as long-term training investment in the researcher How can BBSRC best promote and facilitate this culture change?

8 Concordat BBSRC is (along with the other Research Councils) a signatory to the new Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers (2008): BBSRC works with other funders and through Vitae to promote the need for PIs, Universities, funders and postdocs themselves to maximise the career development opportunities in a postdoctoral research post.

9 Professional Skills Check out the Vitae website:
Most universities and institutes have dedicated postdoc development activities funded by Research Council ‘Roberts’ funding. Make the most of these in order to develop a broad set of skills which may help you make an impact with your research outside of academia.

10 Why does BBSRC fund Fellowships?
Funding outstanding scientists at various stages of their research careers Identifying the research leaders of tomorrow and supporting existing ones RISK

11 Fellowship “flavours”

12 Enterprise Fellowships
reimbursed for 12 months Fellow’s salary to enable development of a commercial proposition or product (60% time) up to £10k support costs business training (40% time) access to an academic mentor and industrial supervisor administered by The Royal Society of Edinburgh expect up to 5 Fellowships to be awarded per annum, with two closing dates in Mar/Oct, Fellowship to begin Oct/Apr Next Closing Date: 4 May 2010

13 David Phillips Fellowship Institute Career Path Fellowship
Early Career BBSRC Fellowships David Phillips Fellowship Institute Career Path Fellowship David Phillips gained a first degree in Physics and after war service returned to Cardiff for postgraduate studies in crystallography. After postdoctoral research in Canada, he joined a team headed by Bragg, Perutz and Kendrew who were investigating the three-dimensional structures of large molecules such as proteins. He was involved in the determination of the first 3-D structure of a protein molecule, myoglobin, in Phillips led the group which determined the complete structure of lysozyme in 1965, a structure characterised by a deep cleft on one surface which suggested how lysozyme might interact with other molecules. With the other members of the group and with C. A. Vernon, he was able to propose a mechanism for the enzyme’s catalytic activity which has since been shown to be essentially correct. The work was immediately recognised to be of very great importance. Phillips was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, and was awarded many honorary degrees and a number of medals, including the Royal Medal of the Royal Society in 1975. 3 After his appointment as Professor of Molecular Biophysics at Oxford, Phillips led the way in the elucidation of the structures of enzymes, antibodies, viruses and other macromolecular complexes. He served as a vice-president of the Royal Society ( ), and as its biological secretary ( ). He was then appointed chairman of the Advisory Board for the Research Councils, the body responsible for advising the Government on the disposition of funding for research councils and universities, a post he held for ten years.

14 BBSRC Fellowships To support outstanding bioscientists in the early stage of their research careers who wish to establish themselves as independent researchers Institute Career Path Fellowship same duration, terms and conditions, etc., as David Phillips Fellowship, but held at BBSRC-sponsored Institute in areas of strategic importance for Institute skills base Institute guarantees permanent position subject to satisfactory progress Full details available in the BBSRC Fellowships Guide: Look at Fellowships available from other funders too, e.g. Wellcome, MRC, NERC, etc.

15 BBSRC Fellowships David Phillips Fellowships can be an any area of BBSRC’s remit but priority is given to those in BBSRC’s strategic priority areas The target areas for the Institute Career Path Fellowships vary each year for the 09/10 competition proposal were invited from early-career researchers wishing to work in areas of research connected to Food Security Number and duration normally 8-10 David Phillips Fellowships awarded each year, and 2 Institute Career Path Fellowships 5 Year duration, with 2 year further extension for exceptional Fellows

16 BBSRC Fellowships Eligibility
Maximum 10 years of active research (postgraduate research plus postdoctoral research) as at 1 October In addition, applicants will normally have a minimum of 3 years of active postdoctoral research experience “Active” means that periods of maternity/paternity leave or career breaks do not count No restrictions on nationality

17 BBSRC Fellowships Research Support Grant
No maximum limit, but typically will be around £600k - £1M over five years Will cover staff post Awarded under “full economic cost” principles Family friendly: Fellows can go part-time or suspend their Fellowship for maternity break In fact, in the 2005/06 competition, one fellowship was awarded at £1.25m over five years

18 BBSRC Fellowships Competition process
Call for applications in September; November deadline Initial sift in December References sought up on those that make it through the sift Shortlisting in March Interviews in April Award taken up anytime before following January

19 Challenges and Advantages of the Fellowship Route
It’s your research, you’re the boss You need to recruit and manage the staff Can be difficult to establish your independence alongside colleagues you have worked with as a postdoc From an employment perspective, you will normally be on a fixed-term contract Getting a Fellowship is highly competitive… …and future employers will expect to see significant results

20 Some simple tips Start your application in good time (e.g. 12 months ahead of the application deadline!) Think about where you want to hold the Fellowship and make contact early You should get help from your prospective host institution on costing your application Read the competition details from the funder carefully Think about the strategic priorities of the funder and how you can maximise your chances of success Make sure you get senior colleagues to read and comment on your proposal

21 www Fellowships

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