By Chikondi Shaba, Malawi University
26 – 30 November, UK
The Early career workshop was the highlight of my 2018! It was my first time to attend an early career researcher’s workshop that combined Natural and social sciences and my first time to visit the UK. All other workshops that I have attended have been very scientific, technical and specific to my area of study and interest – Analytical Chemistry and Mass Spectrometry. Until joining the Hidden Crisis team in 2017, my research work was primarily lab based, of course with the aim of achieving solutions that will have positive impact on humanity. We collect samples, analyse and report – a very technical focused scope.
The workshop contained a range of sessions over the 5 days including: writing peer-reviewed academic papers; verbal and poster communication; communicating across disciplines and with different users of research; and grant writing.
This workshop gave me direction on several of my individual skill gaps such as dealing with the communication gap between communities and scientists, incorporating a social science aspect into a purely natural science project, putting direction into a proposal to the funders benefit and not just the communities, and I learnt much about the art of pitching.
The handouts and discussion on technical writing were very enlightening of the “common but not so obvious” mistakes made in manuscript preparation and writing in general. During this interactive session, we explored components of Brevity, Clarity, and Accuracy in writing styles. Most useful was the reference to research and donors with regard to the African countries and not just the UK context.
I have only ever done one poster presentation, the practice of giving a two-minute overview of a presentation was quite challenging for me and it did make me perfect organisation and time keeping during presentations.
I have read about UPGro and the various projects under it, but meeting other UPGro career researchers especially from the other projects other than Hidden Crisis, in person, was surreal. We got to share about the various work we are all doing, the impact on the communities, the experiences during fieldwork, and our personal development. It was fun and highly motivating. This interaction and the Ineson lecture put into perspective how I could combine my research interests and my Hidden Crisis experience.
This week was very inclusive both in terms of nationality, and in terms of natural and social science disciplines. I look forward to another early career researcher’s workshop for more skills and as a platform to share our work and experiences.
On another note, the UK has always been at the top of my travel destination list, and UPGro made it happen. The tour of London was super amazing and a great start to the week.