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Welcome to the PFDC newsletter


March 2020

Welcome to March’s newsletter! The days are finally getting longer, giving us more time to think about and plan our future. If your future as an early career researcher is on your mind, scroll down to see what we have on offer this month.

For more information about the Postdoc and Fellows Development Centre (PFDC) please:

Contact us with any queries:

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Note that information about grants and fellowships are posted on our Twitter feed.

If you have any information, events or surveys that you would like to advertise which are relevant to postdocs, fellows and clinicians at Imperial College London, please email the PFDC team. We would like to hear from you!

In this issue:

  1. Reps Events
  2. Calling all postdocs… new reps required!
  3. Blog of the Month
  4. PFDC 10 Development Days Survey
  5. Fellows and Clinicians Bespoke Programme of Support
  6. Pop-ups
  7. Upcoming Courses
  8. One small grant can kick-start a big career
  9. Women@Imperial Week - Working Parents Networking Sessions
  10. Other upcoming events
  11. President’s Address: 11 March
  12. Enterprise Week:  16-20 March
  13. Enterprise Week – Postdoc and Fellows Networking Lunch
    Tuesday 17 March 2020, 13.00-14.00
  14. Open Research @ Imperial: 24 March
  15. Career Coaching
  16. Publish Open Access for free with Springer
  17. MRC New Investigator Research Grant

PFDC in Focus:
PFDC Parents Network

The first meeting of the PFDC Parents Network took place on Monday 24 February, with over 16 postdocs and fellows in attendance. It was lovely to see so many people there from a range of different stages in their parenting journey. A member of HR, Emily Michael, was there to answer any HR policy questions – she was kept busy! Following the success of the first meeting, and the results of the survey that was filled out on the day, the next meeting will be a breakfast in April. The date will be announced in the next PFDC newsletter.  Thank you to all those who attended; we look forward to seeing you at the next event!

shadow of parent with childFor those of you who weren’t able to attend or would like to know more about what Imperial offers parents, the new PFDC Parents Network webpage will introduce you to the many things that the College provides for parents or parents-to-be. It covers information on:

  • Family-friendly initiatives at the College
  • Policies that may be of interest
  • Workshops for new parents
  • Other support schemes

If you would like to know more about the PFDC Parents Network, please contact Karen Hinxman

1. Reps Events

Have you met your departmental postdoc reps?
Do you know what events are being organised by the reps for your department or campus?

If not, get involved and take a look at some of the upcoming events taking place across the College!

Life Sciences: Proof of Concept Fund
Deadline: 27 March

The Department of Life Sciences is running a proof-of-concept fund competition for postdocs, offering two prizes of £2,000 in consumables and facility time to teams composed of postdocs from different research groups. Applicants should aim to generate data for use in fellowship applications or external funding bids. The application form can be downloaded from the DoLS Postdoc Committee webpage.  Application deadline is 27 March and winners will be announced on 17 April.

2. Calling all postdocs… new reps required!

Looking for something that would make your CV stand out? Have a great idea for an event for postdocs? Want to meet new people in your department and across the College?

If you answered YES to any of the above, then why not become a departmental rep?

Being a rep is a fantastic opportunity for you to meet new people in your department and really influence what support postdocs and fellows receive here at Imperial. 

What do you get by being a rep?

  • A position of responsibility within your department
  • Become known to the Head of your department
  • Opportunities to meet and network with new people from across the College
  • A chance to influence College-wide initiatives
  • The option to lead and organise events and initiatives
  • Membership of committees
  • Looks great on your CV!

Volunteers are always welcome, but in particular the below departments have open vacancies:


Natural Sciences



Life Sciences

Brain Science
Infectious Disease
Surgery and Cancer

If you would like to become a rep for your department or to discuss the role further, please contact PFDC Consultant Karen Hinxman.

3. Blog of the Month

Professional Societies: A career boost to discover

Professional societies are organisations that promote and represent a discipline, a field of research or a profession. Most societies offer training opportunities, conferences and travel grants to early career researchers – these are excellent opportunities to network, grow your presence in the field and apply for funding. Many societies also have committees you can be a part of, communicating science or helping inform policy. Participating in activities fostered by professional societies can support you developing new skills such as leadership, communication, negotiation and influencing skills.

shadow of parent with child

In this blog post, the authors discuss the benefits of joining and participating in the activities provided by professional societies.

Remember that you have 10 Development Days to use and you can use some of these to engage with professional societies. Some Imperial departments have links to professional organisations in their field (here and here) and you can find a (not extensive) list of UK-based learned and professional societies here.

4. PFDC 10 Development Days Survey

Idea process graph

To support you as a postdoc or fellow at Imperial, you have ten development days written into your contract. Please see the PFDC Plan to succeed – 10 Development Days tip sheet and webpage for further details.


The PFDC are conducting a survey with two purposes:
1. To inform/remind postdocs and fellows of your ten development days
2. To collect information from postdocs and fellows across the College on your knowledge/uptake of the ten days.

The survey will take less than five minutes. The PFDC aims to always consult and work with postdocs and fellows at the College to ensure that the support you require is reflected in the PFDC resources and services. We would appreciate your input in this survey.

A summary of the results will be shared. Please note that the data will be aggregated and anonymised; therefore, individual comments will not be shared.

Please follow this Qualtrics link to take the survey.

5. Fellows and Clinicians Bespoke Programme of Support

“In conversation with Academic Women”
Women Only

This event forms part of the programme of support for Imperial fellows and clinicians and is aimed at women only in response to the feedback from the fellows and clinicians community across all faculties. In particular, this event will provide opportunities to:

  • Interact in an informal, confidential and supportive setting
  • Listen to the advice from academic women at Imperial College – clinical and non-clinical
  • Learn from the experiences of academic women at different career stages/paths

Upcoming forums:

Academic women who have kindly agreed to make time to support you, share their advice and expertise:

  • Professor Liz Lightstone – Professor of renal medicine & Consul (clinical) for the Faculty of Medicine
  • Dr Karen Hinxman  - Consultant at Postdoc and Fellows Development Centre, Imperial College London

“I really enjoyed this safe space to discuss common issues faced by women, solutions, as well as to hear about how people have gotten to their position today. It felt truly empowering to be surrounded by so much strength.”

6. Pop-ups

Pop-up: Career Goals
Tuesday 3 March 2020, 9.30-11.30, SALC 9, South Kensington

Plan to Succeed - explore career goal-setting – an essential tool for time management, personal and professional progression. During this session, you will reflect on your career and set individual career goals.

Please sign up for the event via this Qualtrics link.

Pathways for Postdocs CV Clinic
Thursday 12 March 2020

One-to-one CV evaluation – Looking for roles beyond academia i.e. industry, charity sector - receive specific feedback on your CV from a member of the PFDC team.

Sign up via this Doodle poll - please include your full name (these appointments are for postdocs, fellows and clinicians).

Please bring with you a printed copy of your CV and any job descriptions you’re interested in applying for or discussing.

Directions to the meeting rooms on level 5 Sherfield Building: SALC meeting rooms: Exit the lift on the fifth floor. Take the door in front of you to your left, and continue through the gallery. Turn left through the door at the far end of the gallery to reach SALC 1-10.

Please note we have a 'no-show' policy which does state that if you do not attend or notify us that you cannot attend there will be a charge levied. For more information please take a look at our Terms and Conditions webpage.

7. Upcoming Courses

PFDC circlesThe PFDC courses for the 2019/20 academic year are filling up fast! Below are some of our courses taking place before the end of April which still have several places available.

For a full list of courses available throughout the year please visit our website.

So You’ve Got Your Fellowship, Now What?
Friday 13 March

The Postdoc Entrepreneur: Business Plan Basics - this course is currently full, but if you'd like to be added to the waiting list, please email PFDC Support.
Friday 13 March

Getting Your Next Job (Postdocs in Life Sciences & Medicine)
Wednesday 18 March

Preparing Successful Fellowship Applications **White City**
Wednesday 22 April

Please book onto training with ICIS: Sign in and click ‘My Training’ – Search for the course – Click: Enrol.

Please note we have a cancellation/'no-show' policy. For more information please take a look at our Terms and Conditions webpage.

8. One small grant can kick-start a big career

Former Imperial postdoc, Dr Luke Whiley, has written a blog post on how a small grant led to a big career change for him, and reminds researchers to look out for opportunities in the small stuff.

You can read more here about how Luke’s career in dementia research developed from a relatively small grant.

9. Women@Imperial Week - Working Parents Networking Sessions

Working Parents Networking Sessions are taking place during Women@Imperial Week. Imperial is committed to supporting all expectant mothers and staff with children to achieve a healthy work-life balance, to ensure they are able to continue excelling at work whilst balancing the needs of their family at home. This session is a great opportunity for you to meet other parents at work to build networks with your colleagues and help enable mutual support.

If you are interested in attending a working parents networking session,
please fill in this online form.

They will take place on the following dates/times:

  • Tuesday 3 March, South Kensington Campus: 10.30-11.30, SALC 10, Sherfield Building
  • Wednesday 4 March, St Mary's Campus: 12.30-13.30, Dadds Lecture Theatre
  • Thursday 5 March, White City Campus: 15.00- 16.30, Room G27
  • Friday 6 March, Hammersmith Campus: 09.30-11.00, Seminar Room 1, Wolfson Education Centre

10. Other upcoming events

Women in Clinical Academia | Thursday 5 March, 16.00-17.00, Hammersmith Campus

In this seminar, Dr Vicky Salem will be exploring why women leave their careers in clinical academia and the evidence for cultural change.

Find out more and register via Eventbrite.

Careers seminar: Returning to work after parental leave | Monday 9 March, 12.00-13.00, Hammersmith Campus

This careers seminar will focus on what can be done to support parents returning to work and to enable them to stay in their chosen career. It will include a panel discussion with three Daphne Jackson fellows who have been supported to return to work in the areas of STEM after a career break taken for family, caring or health reasons.
Find out more and register via Eventbrite.

BAME in STEM: Do I belong? | Thursday 12 March, 16.00-17.00, Hammersmith Campus

In this seminar, Dr Wayne Mitchell will highlight the experiences of BAME students at Imperial and make suggestions of remedial steps for improving black British students’ sense of belonging, identity and inclusion within the academic space.

Find out more and register via Eventbrite.

11. President’s Address: 11 March

President’s Address by Professor Alice P. Gast
Wednesday 11 March, 17.30, Lecture Theatre 200, City and Guilds Building,
South Kensington Campus

Imperial President Alice GastThis will be the President’s sixth annual address to the Imperial community, providing a personal insight into the future development of our College, our campus, and our core purpose. In addition, the evening will provide an opportunity to celebrate the external accolades and achievements of Imperial’s staff. 

The talk will be followed by a drinks reception in the College Main Entrance. Read more and register to attend.

12. Enterprise week: 16-20 March

Enterprise Week takes place between 16-20 March, with a range of events, exhibitions and competition finals throughout the week for both staff and students. 

A full schedule can be found online, but among the highlights are: 

Commercialise this! Panel discussion with enterprising academics, LT200 City and Guilds Building, 12.15-13.00, 16 March 

Join us for an inspiring discussion with enterprising academics to find out what it takes to commercialise your research. The panel will include Dr Florence Gschwend, On the left, a woman delivering a presentation. On the right, three researchers in a lab.Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Chemical Engineering, who is also Co-founder and CEO of Chrysalix Technologies. The event will be followed by a networking lunch with Enterprise staff. 

Sign up now via Eventbrite and look out for more details in the coming weeks!

Venture Catalyst Challenge 2020 Grand Final, LT200 City and Guilds Building, 17.45-21.00, 18 March

Watch the Venture Catalyst Challenge's final five teams pitch their ground-breaking ideas and innovations to industry-leading judges.
This year, the Venture Catalyst Challenge, powered by Blenheim Chalcot, is bigger than ever before with five tracks, a Social Impact and Moonshot prize, and a £90,000 prize fund. 

The tracks include: 
·                     Digital & Fintech - sponsored by Santander 
·                     Energy & Environment - sponsored by ABB 
·                     AI & Robotics - sponsored by Amazon Robotics 
·                     Health & Wellbeing - sponsored by P&G Ventures 
·                     Creative & Consumer - sponsored by Imperial College London

Register now on Eventbrite! 

13. Enterprise Week – Postdoc and Fellows Networking Lunch
Tuesday 17 March 2020, 13.00-14.00

As part of Enterprise Week, the PFDC are hosting a networking lunch for postdocs and fellows to come together to discuss their ideas, discoveries, technologies and inventions. Whether you are just starting out and want to learn more about what falls under the enterprise umbrella and develop entrepreneurial skills, this is a great opportunity.

Find out more about the Imperial Postdoc and Fellows Enterprise Network (IPFEN), a network for postdocs, fellows and clinicians who are interested in knowing more about Entrepreneurship and Enterprise opportunities and activities, whether it is to support your research activity or to explore a new career path.

Please sign up for the event via this Qualtrics link.

14. Open Research @ Imperial: 24 March

Tuesday 24 March 2020
Lecture Theatre 201, Skempton Building, South Kensington Campus

Open Research event logoCome along to Open Research @ Imperial to explore the future of Open Science. Find out more about key topics in Open Access and Open Research including Plan S, Open Data, DORA, the Leiden Manifesto, Pre-Prints, Reproducibility, Peer Review and Metrics.

Register to attend Open Research @ Imperial 2020 by 17 March.

15. Career Coaching

Sarah Wissing is studying Career Management and Coaching at Birkbeck, University of London. She is offering free confidential career coaching, which can include but is not limited to issues related to career change/development, identifying blocks and barriers and managing work relationships.

Coaching provides the client with the opportunity to explore career and work issues in a non-judgemental, confidential space. Coaching takes a counselling, rather than an advisory stance, to work with clients with a person-centred approach.

Sessions are between 50 and 60 minutes, conducted in person, and are confidential between the client and the coach.

If you would like to have a chat about coaching or have any questions, please contact Sarah on

16. Publish Open Access for free with Springer

Imperial is part of the UK Read and Publish (Springer Compact) agreement, meaning you can publish your article open access - at no cost to you - in more than 1,850 Springer hybrid journals!

The agreement covers the following outputs:
Original Paper, Review Paper, Brief Communication and Continuing Education and is forSpringer logo Imperial corresponding authors only.

There are also a number of discounts with other publishers available to researchers at Imperial.


17. MRC New Investigator Grant

UKRI logoThe Medical Research Council’s (MRC) New Investigator Research Grant (NIRG) is a unique opportunity for talented early career researchers to get significant funding for their work.

The NIRG is aimed at researchers who are capable of becoming independent Principle Investigators and who are ready to take the next step towards that goal.

More information and a video explaining how the NIRG benefits early career researchers, how to apply and what makes a good application can be found here.

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