“After two years of online events, the Doctoral Training Alliance brought together cohorts from its four interdisciplinary (Applied Biosciences for Health, Social Policy, Energy and Future Societies) programmes for an in-person summer school. The summer school was held at the University of Brighton from 6th – 8th of July. The events of the programme were planned to reinforce community in research. (To know more read the University Alliance blog article here).
As a lead-up to the event, all the participants were able to take part in two competitions to support them to share their research with wider audiences: summarising their thesis for Twitter audiences for Tweet Your Thesis and submitting an image representing their research for the DTA Exhibition of Research. The participants were also encouraged to share the images that captured the wonderful moments they have had during the summer schools. These images were later considered for the DTA Photo Competition.
This video provides an overview of the training opportunities offered by the Doctoral Training Alliance (DTA).
On the first day, we all arrived at the University of Brighton. After a brief coffee and catch-up, the session was kickstarted with a welcome address by the Head of DTA Jennie Eldridge, followed by a conversation panel discussion on the topic: ‘What is Community in Research?’. The speakers, Dr Heather Sears, Professor Amin Al-Habaib, Dr Anna Seabourne, Dr Ellie Crabtree, Professor Mark Devenney, Professor Michael Cole, myself and Udit Tiwari discussed what research community means to them.
This session was followed by exhibition networking, which allowed the participants to move around the room and see the displayed posters of the images which represented their research. This session sparked some amazing discussions and networking among the participants. The Exhibition of Research flash presentation sessions were held both online and in-person on 6th and 7th, and the participants who were not presenting had a chance to interact with a few DTA alumni as a part of the online sessions.
The afternoon sessions included ‘Creative Techniques for Academic Writing’ by Katharine D’Souza for in-person participants, and ‘Project Management for PGRs’ with DTA alumnus Dr Eleftherios Nomikos for online participants. Both the sessions were well received and enjoyed. To mark the end of the first day, we all met at Brighton Pier for a fish and chip supper and had a great time talking to fellow researchers over the meal.
The second day started with a walk and talk session where we were all split into small groups and walked around the beautiful city of Brighton. Mary Oliver said, “Instructions for living a life is to pay attention, be astonished and talk about it”. With the beautiful weather, amazing sea front and lovely company to walk with, we got to do all of it in the same session.
After the Research flash presentations and parallel online sessions for the second day, we all joined together for our quintessential DTA debate session led by Prof Amin Al-Habaibeh. The debate was on “Work from Home or Work from Office”. The session had some lively interaction from participants, with many people putting forth interesting points regarding the social, economic and energy-related points of view on why each mode is better.
This was followed by a DTA Alumni peer advice session. In this session, five alumni from earlier cohorts participated in discussions with current DTA researchers, who were divided into small groups. This gave us a chance to find out more about future job opportunities, timelines for application, thesis writing, Viva, conferences and networking with other researchers. The end of the second day was marked with a visit to the Royal Pavilion with a guided tour. The Palace was magnificent, and the tour was thoroughly enjoyed.
The third day was taken over by the DTA Reps. The day started with rep-led walks along various routes in the local area followed by skill sharing sessions. We had sessions from myself, Heather Sears and Anna Seabourne. This session was followed by a farewell note and prize-giving.
With the beautiful sea front, pleasant sunny weather and amazing people, the three days were as good as it could have been after the two-year wait. And like all good things it did end well and we bid goodbye with big smiles and heavy hearts.”