lifETIME goes to “Future Leaders in Regenerative Medicine: Joint Conference CDTs and UKSB”
By LifETIME CDT Student: Lydia-Styliani Marinou (University of Glasgow)
Once upon a time, the Lifetime CDT collaborated with the following CDTs and the UK Society of Biomaterials to organise a joint event this summer:
- EPSRC-SFI Joint CDT in Engineered Tissues for Discovery, Industry and Medicine (LifETIME)
- EPSRC/MRC CDT in Regenerative Medicine
- EPSRC/MRC CDT in Regenerative Medicine
- EPSRC Advanced Biomedical Materials CDT (ABM)
- EPSRC CDT in Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine (TERM)
- Doctoral Network for Technologies in Healthy Ageing (Ageing)
The virtual conference was held over two days, 24th & 25th June 2020, and hosted student presentations and poster sessions.
This is the story as told by Lydia, the lifETIME student representative.
The chronicles of the Joint CDT conference
Initial discussions about the event started during more innocent and care-free times. University of Nottingham would be our host and the lifETIME group couldn’t wait to meet all the current and future leaders of the regenerative medicine field. But then, laboratory activities ceased, we were advised to work from home and lockdown measures were set in place (getting heart palpitations even by thinking about it now). At this point, a big decision was made – the conference would not be postponed but it would be a virtual event. This meant that apart from scheduling the talks, collating abstracts and organising networking events, the organisers now had to figure out how to deliver the virtual conference successfully. It was decided to hold a two-day event to allow for a more relaxed schedule, including a keynote speech from Prof Liam Grover, 15-minute talks, 3-minute poster talks and poster discussion session. Using Zoom platform, also allowed us to organise sessions with various themes that covered a wide range of our fields in parallel. Interestingly, fellow attendees enjoyed this feature as it allowed them to jump from one session to another depending on the talk they were interested in, which otherwise would not have been possible. At the end, after multiple meetings and long email chains, the event was concluded beautifully with great feedback that put a smile on the face of everyone involved in the organising committee.
My adventure as a student representative in the organising committee
Students were invited to join this committee as student representatives to offer our colleagues’ perspective into the structure and content of the event. When Michelle sent out the invite, I was immediately interested. Earlier that month, I had attended an Industry Day, where during various discussions, I thought how stimulating and important for my personal development it would be to get some experience in administration and management. So, this opportunity seemed to be a perfect window I could peek through to see the other side. As a student representative, I attended various meetings, conveyed information to the CDT students and organised the poster submission for the lifetime CDT students. I saw this opportunity as part of my lifETIME training and therefore, I was very conscious of what was happening at all times and continuously evaluated myself. Overall, I would say that it taught me a lot of things; it highlighted activities I enjoy or not, attributes and skills I wasn’t aware I had, but also areas for (ahem) improvement.
LifETIME students prevail again
CDT students were an active part of the conference, from presenting their work, participating in open discussions to chairing the parallel sessions. Naturally, the engagement from our CDT was very enthusiastic with four lifETIME CDT students presenting their work with poster and poster flash talks, three chairing sessions and the rest of the cohort attending the sessions. For the majority of people, it was not only the first time presenting their research in an audience or chairing the sessions, but also having to do it over Zoom, regardless, with the support of our colleagues (our group chat was filled with so many supportive messages), we were victorious.
Below a few words two of my colleagues wrote regarding their experiences:
Narina Bileckaja (University of Glasgow)
“It as my first time presenting at a conference, and I think it was a great experience talking to other people working in the same field and getting their feedback on my work. I really enjoyed discussion sessions too, as it was approached by the participants as a dialogue and I learnt a lot thanks to everyone sharing their experience on working with different cell lines and platforms.”
Eduardo Ribes-Martinez (NUI Galway)
“Honestly, my experience as a chair was a bit unexpected in a very positive way. My decision to volunteer was because of my fear to talk in front of a crowd of people. I saw this as an excellent opportunity to overcome it. Although I was very nervous because it was my first-time presenting speakers at a conference, I felt very comfortable. Significantly, the other chair, Dominic, and the fantastic team who organized everything helped a lot to that. We prepared everything in advance, and the result was a session which flowed naturally. Additionally, this experience helped me a lot to gain more self-confidence and realise that it is not that that stressful in the end. I have to say that I look forward to repeating, it is a lot of fun and an experience that I definitely recommend.”
This was the story of our cohort participating in their first virtual meeting, we have now moved on to our next adventure and can’t wait to tell you all about it.
Till next time, stay safe.