Navigating the Funding Landscape

21 December 2015

An event designed to help early careers researchers in physics to navigate the complex funding landscape was held in Edinburgh on 15 December.

Navigating the Funding Landscape

At this workshop the Institute of Physics (IOP) launched a new guide 'Navigating the funding landscape'.  The guide has been designed for researchers who are currently working towards a PhD or on fixed-term postdoctoral research contracts, particularly those aiming for prestigious research fellowships.

The event began with an overview of the funding guide, emphasising that the advice it contains came from people who were willing to share their experiences. Delegates were strongly encouraged to ask academics in their schools and departments for similar insights. This was followed by informative presentations from two key funders – the EPSRC, represented by Jaspreet Kular, and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, represented by Colleen Tait. Both described the range of funding schemes available to early career researchers and explained what characterises successful applications.

After a brief break to enjoy the spectacle of Tim Peake’s launch into space, the focus switched from funder to researcher. Two experienced academics shared their advice and highlighted a number of message to help future applicants prepare better proposals.

 Dr Rita Tojeiro from the University of St Andrews, holds an STFC Ernest Rutherford fellowship and a L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science UK & Ireland Fellowship. She gave an honest account of the successes and failures in her funding track record and encouraged the researchers present to persevere and learn from each failed application.

Finally, Professor Cait MacPhee, shared her experiences as a reviewer and panel member emphasising how critical it is to write the proposal with both the expert reviewer and generalist panel members in mind. She encouraged researchers to ask for support from more senior colleagues, particularly asking to see examples of successful proposals.  She explained how postdoctoral researchers in the School of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh benefited from a mock panel using real proposals from senior colleagues and chaired by an academic who ensured the experience was an authentic as possible.

Dr Sara Shinton, the guide’s author, ably facilitated these expert speakers to share advice with the early career researchers and helped them to:
• Identify the best funding for your career stage and ideas
• Understand what funders expect and need to see in applications
• Write convincing applications
• React positively to reviewers
• Perform strongly at interviews

The event was also an opportunity to network with other early career physicists and the speakers, in addition to learning more about other IOP support and the benefits of membership.

Details from the event can be found here:

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