CHASE: new opportunities for CHASE funded and non-CHASE funded PGRs

Placement – CHASE Researcher Networks Officer (CHASE team)

This is a placement with the CHASE team, focused on working with the various CHASE networks and supporting them in achieving their strategic aims. The placement can be worked remotely, is open to funded and non-funded students*, and the deadline is 30th June.

*Non-funded students can find out about the compensation package at the link below.


Paid part time role – Co-ordinator for CHASE Training and Development Day (Goldsmiths)

This is a part-time role to support an upcoming CHASE training programme. The programme is based at Goldsmiths but the opportunity is available to PGRs at all CHASE member institutions and can be worked remotely.

Download: Job description (PDF)

Voluntary role – Brief Encounters Peer Reviewers

The CHASE open access, peer reviewed journal ‘Brief Encounters’ is looking to expand its pool of peer reviewers. The role is voluntary but will give an excellent insight into the peer review process and training is available. Download: Further details (Word doc)

Windsor Fellowship opportunities – studentship and internship

Syncona PhD Scholarship 2021-2025

Syncona is a FTSE 250 healthcare company focused on creating global leaders in life sciences. We operate as a hands-on venture capital, working closely with world class scientists to found, build and scale companies with the aim of delivering transformational treatments to patients. We invest in all therapeutic modalities (e.g., small molecules, antibodies, nucleic acid therapies) and currently have 11 companies in our portfolio that are developing therapies to treat diseases such as cancer, neurological disorders, metabolic disorders and inherited diseases. In parallel to supporting our portfolio companies, we are also constantly looking for the next breakthroughs in science and medicine and remain actively engaged with the academic and clinician communities.


Syncona are offering one PhD scholarship available to students conducting their doctoral research within Life Sciences at an accredited UK university. The scholarships are aimed at those from a Black African, Black Caribbean or Mixed Black heritage to support diversifying the talent pipeline in the sector.

  • Funding to cover
    • PhD fees at the home / UK rate
    • Maintenance stiped of £18,000 per annum for up to three years (£19,500 for Universities inside London)
    • Materials, consumables and running expenses up to £3,000 per annum for up to three years
  • Mentoring support from senior Syncona staff
  • Pastoral support from a Windsor Fellowship Mentor
  • Paid internship for six months with Syncona in the fourth year. This will include some dedicated time for writing up your PhD thesis if necessary.
  • Windsor Fellowship Leadership Programme in the fourth year of the programme

  • From a Black African, Black Caribbean or Mixed Black heritage
  • Secured a Full Time PhD programme for 2021 entry within Life Sciences
  • Have the right to work in the UK (Syncona will not be able to offer visa sponsorship)

  • Complete an online application
  • Stage 1 – Interview with the Windsor Fellowship between 12-14 July
  • Stage 2 – Final interview with Syncona on either 22 or 23 July
  • Stage 3 – Offers August 2021

If you have any questions about the opportunity please email

Syncona Internship 2021 

Syncona is a FTSE 250 healthcare company focused on creating global leaders in life sciences. We operate as a hands-on venture capital, working closely with world class scientists to found, build and scale companies with the aim of delivering transformational treatments to patients. We invest in all therapeutic modalities (e.g., small molecules, antibodies, nucleic acid therapies) and currently have 11 companies in our portfolio that are developing therapies to treat diseases such as cancer, neurological disorders, metabolic disorders and inherited retinal disorders. In parallel to supporting our portfolio companies, we are also constantly looking for the next breakthroughs in science and medicine and remain actively engaged with the academic and clinician communities.


During this internship, the individual will take part in Syncona’s full operating rhythm, attend internal meetings and be exposed to all new investment opportunities explored by the team. The individual will work closely with experienced members of the team to develop Syncona’s investment strategy in specific biological, technological and clinical areas of interest, as well as contribute to the diligence of active new opportunities. Examples of currently active opportunities include novel antibody-based therapies for auto-immune diseases, cell therapies for cancer and novel nucleic acid therapies for metabolic disorders.


We are looking for applicants who have a passion for science and a desire to learn, as well as be excited by the opportunity to contribute to the development of novel life changing therapies. Syncona operates in a very dynamic and demanding environment and the successful applicant will be expected to behave as a member of the Syncona team and collaborate with other members, be proactive, and be able to work independently. The intern will be paired with a Syncona team member who will be their buddy and provide guidance. We  want to make sure that this experience is as fulfilling as possible and will therefore work with the individual to agree on the areas of focus prior to the beginning of the internship.

Location: London (Syncona office and/or remote, depending on COVID-19 restrictions)

Timing: 6 months full time, from August/September 2021

Salary:  £34,000 p.a., (pro rata £17,000 for six months)

  • From a Black African, Black Caribbean or Mixed Black heritage
  • Have the right to work in the UK (Syncona will not be able to offer visa sponsorship)
  • Doctorate degree graduate and excellent academic record in biological sciences or a related (sub-) discipline
  • Ability to work independently
  • Ability to work collaboratively in a team environment
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills
  • Enthusiasm, entrepreneurial drive and a genuine desire to learn

  • Apply via online application form by Monday 5 July 2021 at 9am (BST)
  • Shortlisted candidates will have an interview with the Windsor Fellowship between 12-14 July
  • Final interview with Syncona on either 22 or 23 July

If you have any questions please email 

CHASE workshops for PhD students with active teaching responsibilities

Developing Critical Reading Techniques

Jun 29, 2021

Most of us are doing lots of reading – that’s the easy part, right? But we’re not always reading the most effective way. Although we accumulate lots of material and ideas, we struggle to turn it into academic writing.

In this interactive webinar, we’ll look at several techniques for becoming a more efficient and productive reader.

Becoming a Note Taking Ninja

Jul 13, 2021

Are your notes in a mess? Do you lack an effective system for storing and organising your reading material? In this interactive webinar, we’ll explore three methods for imposing order on the chaos. Through demonstrations and discussions, you will learn how you can use them to build an effective process that’s right for you.

For more information see

Workshop: What career? Doing practice research beyond the PhD

More info and booking here.

This workshop is for arts and humanities practice-based/led research PhD students and recent graduates who want to explore their career ambitions in academia and/or beyond. 

Contributors to the workshop include: Sound artist Dr Nina Perry; Senior Lecturer in Digital Media at University of Sussex, Dr Emile Devereaux; contemporary folk artist Dr Lucy Wright; writer Dr Olumide Popoola; Senior Lecturer in Performance and Design at Northumbria University Dr Rachel Hann; Senior Lecturer in Film Production at Staffordshire University, Dr Agata Lulkowska and writer, poet and educator Dr Golnoosh Nourpanah. Organised and facilitated by Dr Sophie Hope and Dr Jo Coleman

New weekly podcast: Corkscrew – Practice research beyond the PhD

Sophie Hope interviews different generations of practice-based research PhD graduates from different disciplines about why they did practice-based/led PhDs in the first place and what they went on to do next. The podcast is produced with assistance from Dr Jo Coleman.

You can subscribe to the podcast here and listen to the first episode with Prof Anne Douglaswho completed her PhD in 1992.

Gender Equality in Research – Learning from Portugal

Webinar banner

Register here

Together with European project MINDtheGEPs and a distinguished panel from Portugal, the EU institutions and the research community, we will deep dive into Portugal’s performance on equality, discuss what more the EU could do to deliver a gender balanced research system and consider how the gender equality implementation plans will be rolled out in Europe’s research and innovation framework.

The discussion on Wednesday 16th June will be divided in two sessions; the first, starting at 10:00 CEST, will examine the reasons behind Portugal’s success and how it could be replicated across Europe, with questions to representatives from the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Portuguese Government and the research community. The second session, starting at 11:35 CEST, will bring together established members of the research community to discuss how gender equality can be realised in practice through strategic interventions and implementation of gender equality plans. The event brings together the following speakers:

Session 1 on policy, moderated by Elizabeth Crossick, Head of EU Government Relations, RELX:
– Rosa Monteiro, Secretary of State for Citizenship & Equality, Portugal
– Ramona Strugariu, Member of European Parliament, Renew Europe
– Lesia Radelicki, Member of Cabinet of the Equality Commissioner, Helena Dalli
– Prof Analia Torres, Director CIEG, Centre of Gender Studies, Lisbon University
– Federica Rosetta, Vice President Academic & Research Relations EU, Elsevier

Session 2 on policy in practice, moderated by Claudio Colaiacomo, Vice President Academic Relations, Elsevier:
– Mina Stareva, Head of Sector Gender, DG Research & Innovation, European Commission
– Prof Maria Chiara Carrozza, President CNR (National Research Council, Italy)
– Prof Stefano Geuna, Rector Magnificus, Torino University, Italy
– Anna Wahl, Vice President Gender Equality & Values, KTH (Royal Institute of Technology)Time


Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image (BIMI) is currently planning its programme of events for 2021-22. We welcome proposals from researchers and students working in any discipline or field across the College. We are very happy to work in collaboration with research centres and institutes at Birkbeck or at other institutions, both in terms of exchanging ideas and materials and in terms of sharing costs and logistics.

We encourage our Birkbeck colleagues to utilise the facilities of Birkbeck Cinema to foreground new or rarely screened films and other moving image works, and/or to contribute to contemporary debates around academic research and its relationship to social, political and cultural questions of the day.

In normal times, all of our events take place in Birkbeck Cinema, typically on Friday evenings 6-9pm and Saturdays 10-5pm. Birkbeck Cinema is an exceptional resource, now equipped to project the most up to date DCP and other digital formats, as well as traditional formats such as 35mm and 16mm.

In the current circumstances, however, we cannot say for sure when we will have full access to Birkbeck Cinema. For the autumn term, we are therefore especially interested in proposals for events that could be adapted, if necessary, to online presentation, with the possibility of streaming films via our Screening Room. From January 2022, while we hope to be able to operate from the Cinema in our usual fashion, we are aware that nothing is certain, and so we will remain open to the possibility of adapting BIMI events to online versions if this proves necessary.

If you would like to propose an idea for an event, please complete this form and send it the subject heading “BIMI proposals 2021-22”.The deadline for submission is Friday 25 June.

Michael Temple, Director, Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image, and Essay Film Festival; Matthew Barrington, BIMI Manager

Title of proposed event:

Names of proposers and department or School:

Description of event (no more than 250 words, please):

Screening material (including technical specifications if known):

Indicative budget (film materials, speakers, travel, etc. – BIMI can typically cover up to £200 per event):

Potential collaborators (from Birkbeck or other institutions):


Six lessons from a pandemic PhD student

If you’re starting a doctoral programme later this year, particularly if your institution is still facing COVID-19 restrictions, Ciara O’Brien has some advice.

First printed in nature magazine 6 May 2021. See here for original article

Ciara in the Vincent Building Labs at Cranfield University.
Ciara O’Brien working in the laboratory at Cranfield University, where she started her PhD programme amid COVID-19 lockdowns.Credit: Cranfield University

In September 2020, I started my PhD programme in plant science at Cranfield University, a postgraduate-only research institute in the United Kingdom. I struggled with many aspects of the transition from undergraduate to PhD study at the beginning — particularly with the added challenges of lockdown. With varying levels of restrictions still affecting many researchers, here are some of the things I learnt.

Manage your expectations when setting goals

I had grand expectations of what I would achieve in the first few months of my programme. I did manage to move from Ireland to the United Kingdom, and got myself set up at the laboratory — but I had also expected to have almost completed my first draft of a literature review, designed experiments and started my own lab work.Sign up for tips and tools to help you work smarter in the new normal

Those ideas were swiftly torpedoed. During month one, I did almost no science. I moved to a new country, which meant finding accommodation without viewings and opening a bank account without a credit history. This is normally difficult enough, but I couldn’t visit banks in person and relied on automated systems. Thankfully, I moved before Brexit and didn’t have to quarantine — but simple steps still took longer because of lockdown. I spent hours on the phone with the university’s information-technology department, trying to acquire and set up a work laptop. Once I got it, I did an online safety-training course (only to find I had to redo it because my browser crashed and didn’t save my progress) and filled out form after form to get my student number, student finance stipend and lab-access credentials.

Having not achieved anything resembling PhD research, I was terrified of letting my supervisors down right at the start. But when I spoke to them about my (minimal) progress in reading papers and designing experiments, they had anticipated that these tasks would take a lot of time and reminded me that although filling out every form under the sun might not feel like science, it is work.

Volunteering to help others helps you in the long run

Most PhD students will start at a university that is new to them, which means meeting a new set of supervisors, technicians, professors, administrative staff and more. Once you do get to know these people, it’s a lot easier to know who to ask for what.

But it’s more difficult to go through the ‘getting to know you’ process online. Volunteering to help out with ‘dirty’ jobs helped me to get to know people and brought me into the lab to meet others face-to-face. I also garnered favour among others in my team. I spent a week defrosting freezers, and another week moving sacks of potatoes from one room to another. I can’t count how many hours I spent cleaning our lab equipment that had been in storage! But now, I know nearly all the technicians in my department — so asking for help or guidance is less daunting.

This also gave me a sense of ‘family’. Lockdown meant that numbers in the lab were kept to a minimum, so I didn’t meet many people as ‘organically’ as others might have in normal circumstances. I also couldn’t travel home without putting my family at risk. Christmas would have been unbearable if not for the people I met in my first few months, and now we all have a support network.

Take ownership of your project

Just before I started my programme, my supervisor sent me the grant application she had used to get funding for my project. At first, I stuck to it like scripture, focusing mostly on the references used in the application rather than getting a feel for the field in general. Even when some parts of the project didn’t fit with the others, or I found gaps in the literature that I could and wanted to address, I didn’t have the confidence to claim ownership of my project.

But as I started to design experiments and develop hypotheses, I wanted to delve deeper into some aspects of the project and scrap others. Some of the proposed experiments were just not attainable with the allotted time and resources, and once I explained why to my supervisors, they were really supportive of my changes. One of the initial goals of my project was comparing harvest times of fruit, despite early- and late-harvested fruit being used for completely different purposes. My corporate sponsor, Orchard House Foods, doesn’t work with one of these harvests, so I would have had to source options from different farms just to do a study that has already been done several times. After three months, I finally asked whether it was really worth investigating this, giving my reasons, and we scrapped it.

Even though I didn’t design my PhD project from scratch, taking ownership has allowed me to ‘pitch’ changes to both academics and industry partners and has been one of the most valuable skills I’ve developed so far.

Your style does not have to match your supervisor’s style

My two main supervisors are food scientists Mari Carmen Alamar and Natalia Falagán. Mari Carmen is known for running around the lab and yelling everything, so you can always hear her coming. Natalia is calm and collected, keeping everything scheduled. If you set her lab coat on fire, she’d probably just take it off and get the appropriate extinguisher.Collection: the PhD

At first, I tried to mimic their styles as closely as I could, switching to match whoever was working with me at the time. I tried making lists and timetables in Natalia’s style, but was adjusting the times so often that it was more complicated than winging it. If Mari Carmen ran, I ran after her — and couldn’t last long because of my short legs. I needed more coffee than my heart could handle to match her intensity. This turned out to be a waste of energy spent trying to be someone else, when what I needed to do was accept my own working style. I still run, but only on rare occasions, and my to-do list is written on the back of my hand rather than scheduled in a diary. If you see someone with a working style that you like, adapt yours to include it. But, just because someone is your supervisor, that doesn’t mean you should model everything you do on the basis of how they do it.

Manage your expectations of yourself

When I first started my programme, I tried to work all day, every day — including weekends — thinking that’s what was expected of me. From hearing presentations of other PhD students and seeing the work that goes into publishing a manuscript in a journal, I thought the only way I could keep up with people ‘smarter’ than me was to outwork them. Of course it wasn’t, but I was comparing myself with an ideal that doesn’t exist. This was made worse by not having much contact with people further along on their PhD journeys, because I was working mostly from home. Putting this pressure on myself was emotionally and physically exhausting, so, when I was getting constructive feedback, I took it as criticism instead of help. I expected myself to do things perfectly the first time. I didn’t take breaks when I needed them, and ended up having to take longer ones later. Admitting to yourself, and your supervisors, when things are overwhelming early on will end up saving you time and sleep.

Always enjoy the small achievements

There are a lot of setbacks in a PhD programme, but there are just as many achievements. A presentation went well, someone complimented your diagram, you finished an hour early: these are all things worth celebrating as much as losing the post-it note you were writing on is worth stressing about.

I’m someone who worries about the little things — as much as I try not to — so making sure I am as vocal and celebratory over small achievements is important for my balance. Papers and grants are not the only things worth congratulating other people for, too. After finishing my first draft of a literature review (in month seven), I took a full day off to eat pizza and watch daytime television. And I will forever be keeping a pint of ice cream on hand to celebrate finishing that analysis or getting through a progress review.doi:

This is an article from the Nature Careers Community, a place for Nature readers to share their professional experiences and advice. Guest posts are encouraged.

Socially distanced networks – 5 Reasons PhD students should engage with social media now

Ema Talam

Jon Fairburn

March 2nd, 2021

1 comment | 57 shares

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Peer support, finding a place within academia, staying up to date with the latest research, communicating research to wider audiences and navigating life after PhD. Ema Talam and Jon Fairburn outline five ways in which social media, and in particular Twitter, can make all the difference to PhD research at a time when regular academic life has been severely disrupted.

Doing a PhD is hard: lack of work-life balance, uncertainty about the future, diminishing satisfaction with the PhD programme over time, isolation, harassment and discrimination are all too common experiences. COVID-19 has only exacerbated these challenges.

Whilst by no means a panacea, at a time when undertaking a PhD is even more of a fragmented and disjointed experience, social media provides an important space for connection. We – a PhD student and an experienced researcher with over 25 years of experience in academia – put forward the five following reasons why PhD researchers at any stage of the process can benefit from engaging with academic social media and why it is more important now than before COVID-19 pandemic.

Peer Support

Let’s start with the peer support. With universities in lockdown and many PhD students working from home, the informal support that comes from working as part of a research community has diminished. Despite its sometimes hostile reputation, peer support is strongly present on Twitter. Readers new to academic Twitter might consider following general academic hashtags, such as #AcademicTwitter#AcademicChatter and #AcademicMentalHealth, or specifically PhD centred discussions on #phdchat and #virtualnotviral. Whilst a hashtag is not a peer support network, in difficult times they provide pathways to resources and opportunities to meet likeminded people that can make all the difference.

You may even find your peer group is larger than you anticipated. The sudden shift to remote teaching and learning early last year, placed experienced professors and PhD researches running their first classes from all fields in the same position of learning to teach remotely for the first time. The hashtags above as well as being links to a wider research community have also been an invaluable resource for teaching tips and tricks, learning resources and even free training. Do not be afraid to ask questions related to teaching or any aspect of academic life.

Whilst a hashtag is not a peer support network, in difficult times they provide pathways to resources and opportunities to meet likeminded people that can make all the difference.

Finally, Twitter can also be used as a tool for co-ordinating and engaging with existing PhD communities, for instance through organising synchronous and a-synchronous events, such as remote writing retreats.

Navigating your academic discipline(s)

In a similar way hashtags can also be used to find academic communities, for economists #econtwitter is a good place to start as is RePEc’s list of economists on twitter. Learned societies and their social media accounts, e.g. in our fields the Royal Economic Society or Regional Studies Association, also provide useful points for finding the latest news from a particular discipline and often provide tailored advice for how certain disciplines approach social media.

For better or worse, social media is a surveillance network. By following academics whose work you are interested in, you can not only directly engage with them, but by simply following you can develop a sense of the research, networks and events they are interested in. These can help you orient your research towards academic communities and projects that may not be represented within your own institution.

While approaching people at conferences can be intimidating, it is almost impossible on Zoom events due to lack of time dedicated for informal networking or even any breaks at all

Social media can also be a source of inspiration for looking beyond your immediate discipline. The shift to digital as a result of the lockdown, has considerably lowered barriers to attending conferences and seminars. These events are regularly advertised via social media and are a great opportunity for you to attend new areas of research and expose yourself to new ideas and methods that can benefit your PhD.

While approaching people at conferences can be intimidating, it is almost impossible on Zoom events due to lack of time dedicated for informal networking or even any breaks at all. Fortunately, the back channel provided by social media, such as Twitter, can provide a means of keeping the conversation going. Look out for event hashtags, which can be used to preview your work, or just to signal your presence and highlight what you found interesting. Finally, in digital environments where genuine engagement can often be minimal, a considered question or engagement is invaluable and can even lead to future collaboration.

Keeping up to date with the latest research

Not all academic dialogue resides in published academic papers. Many academics post and discuss newly published papers on Twitter. Social media such as twitter, are also central to sharing non-standard research outputs like blogposts, infographics, or even datasets. As COVID-19 has demonstrated much influential research has circulated via social media in the form of preprints, long before final publication. These can all be very useful for PhD students to track new developments in their fields of study.

Communicating your research to wider audiences

COVID-19 has also demonstrated the importance of social media as part of the public sphere and having a profile has become increasingly important for making your work visible to important stakeholders, the media and the general public. Established organisations, such as NGOs, or even your university, are likely to have significant audiences on social media and present opportunities to share your research with non-academic audiences.

This could involve simply tagging potential interested stakeholders in posts or taking part in more structured engagements. Simply being on social media does not guarantee public engagement, but it is a platform that allows you to connect to potential research users, which can be invaluable at a time when social contact of any type is minimal.

Life after PhD

Institutions and academics often share information about the job openings on Twitter. Following academics in your field of study can ensure that you have information about new job openings. Twitter makes it easy for information about job openings to be shared – your network can either tag you in posts about job openings or send a direct message. By building your social networks around your research interests, you are more likely to find relevant information about job openings in the field(s) of interest, whether in or outside of the academia. Many government agencies, firms and universities also have their professional profiles on LinkedIn, where they share information about new job opportunities. Additionally, on LinkedIn, you can easily indicate your openness to work or share your CV should you wish to. Both platforms can be used to seek for advice regarding job applications and help write stronger applications.

PhD students (and their supervisors) are sometimes sceptical about the use of social media and the time that will be spent on social media. Engaging with academic social media does not have to involve huge time investments – it can involve only several minutes per day and directly depends on what you want to get out of it. We would argue the benefits of using academic social media far outweigh the costs.

Note: This article gives the views of the authors, and not the position of the Impact of Social Science blog, nor of the London School of Economics. Please review our Comments Policy if you have any concerns on posting a comment below.

Image Credit: Adapted from Jon Tyson, via Unsplash. 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the author

Ema Talam

Ema Talam is a final year PhD in Economics student at Staffordshire University. She is interested in the topics of firm-level productivity, innovation and exporting, as well as innovation policies. Follow Ema on Twitter on @ematalam.

Jon Fairburn

Jon Fairburn is Professor of Sustainable Development at Staffordshire University. He teaches on the MSc Digital Marketing Management amongst other courses. Follow him on Twitter @ProfJonFairburn.