Five University of Aberdeen academics have been selected to participate in the professional and personal leadership and development programme Scottish Crucible - the highest number since the launch of this programme seven years ago.
More than 100 researchers applied with only 30 from a variety of disciplines being chosen as 2015’s ‘Cruciblists’.
Scottish Crucible brings together talented early-career researchers from across Scotland for a series of intensive two-day ‘labs’ during which they can explore and expand their creative capacity and problem-solving potential in ways they may never have considered before.
Dr Amy Bryzgel (School of Divinity, History and Philosophy), Dr Helen Dooley (School of Biological Sciences), Dr Flora Gröning (School of Medicine & Dentistry), Dr Heather Morgan (Health Services Research Unit) and Dr Wei Pang (School of Natural & Computing Sciences) have all taken part in the first lab at the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Scottish Parliament where, amongst other things, they met with a panel of science journalists who explained how to make their research appeal to mass media and participated in a mock parliamentary committee meeting.
For Dr. Bryzgel, this presented a unique opportunity to consider how her work in the humanities could have impact. “It was great to be selected for this programme and work with researchers in the natural sciences; this stimulated me to think of the ways in which my work can have policy relevance and the workshops helped me realise the ways in which it does,” she said.
Dr Heather Morgan also relished the chance to explore engagement with policy makers at the Scottish Parliament. She said: “Since participating in the mock committee meeting, I have registered my details to become a Committee Adviser and External Research Consultant at the Scottish Parliament. My research is often policy oriented and Scottish Crucible has helped me see new ways in which I can contribute.”
Dr Flora Gröning added that the sessions on media relations have given her invaluable new insights. She said: “Having a clearer idea of how journalists decide whether a research finding is newsworthy will make my communication with the media much more targeted and effective in the future.”
The NESTA (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) scheme, supported by the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Scottish Funding Council, is designed for experienced post-doctoral researchers and those in their first academic position.
Dr Helen Dooley said: “Scottish Crucible has already helped me think differently about my research and its potential impact, expand my peer network and start building new interdisciplinary collaborations. Importantly the labs are designed to be inspiring and huge fun so I would highly recommend it to other early-career researchers.
Dr Wei Pang added: “Becoming a member of the Scottish Crucible Alumni Network will give me the opportunity to explore further research collaborations within the network. I will also have access to resources offered by the network as well as RSE. This is extremely important for me as an early career academic."
The next lab will be held at the University of Dundee at the end of May, with the final lab being hosted by the Robert Gordon University in June.