Last week’s Edinburgh Napier University Research Conference was an outstanding success! As the first conference of its type for the university, the Research and Innovation Office (RIO) did an amazing job at putting the show together.
[Note: Click here to skip to the day’s highlights.]
The day began with a welcome by the Principal of the university, Professor Andrea Nolan, who reminded us of the importance of collaborative research and the wider university research culture. We then enjoyed an entertaining keynote by Dr Peter Barlow who managed to enthuse the audience with equal measures of great insights into research along with Bob Dylan quotes. (Come on, that’s pretty cool.)
We then broke into skills-building workshops. I opted to attend the “Winning research funding” workshop, as I need to start thinking about my post-PhD life… which will likely require a successful grant application. And after the workshops, I presented in the Three Minute Thesis session along with 10 other PhD students. My less-than stellar showing meant that I wasn’t really expecting my name to be called out along with the winners at the end of the day. And that was OK.
Following the thesis presentations and lunch (where we enjoyed a poster presentation), there was a short series of presentations by academic staff across the university. As with the Three Minute Thesis presentations, they were geared towards a general research audience, meaning I could understand the research that was being discussed. (I do enjoy a good general explanation of people’s research!) There was even a wee pitch for Bright Club, which I think more academics should participate in. (Like I did!)
At the end of the formal conference day, winners for the Three Minute Madness (Matt Wale and David Whiteley), posters session (Iris Buunk), and staff presentations (Dan Ridley-Ellis) were announced.
But it was the Principal’s Research Excellence Awards that I was interested in, as I found myself very hopeful that my name might be called. In part because I knew for a fact that at least three people nominated me for the category of “Outstanding contribution to university life by a research student”. However, even though I knew I was nominated, and even though I was hopeful, I also knew that there were other students in the university who might have been just as outstanding as I believe I am.
The outstanding student award was the last one announced, and I was trying to convince myself not to be upset if I didn’t win. In fact, I had distracted myself so much that I hadn’t quite realised that my name had actually been called!
As I made my way to the stage to collect my award, it was explained that I was nominated, in part, because of my work on various committees, mentorship roles, and different initiatives I’ve worked on at the school and university level. But the best part was when it was said that, in addition to these civic roles and responsibilities, I am also producing good research (as noted by my best paper award in January).
It was a truly wonderful feeling to hear from others how valuable they find my contributions to the school and the university. And it was even better to learn that the award includes a small amount of funding for future research spending. (Acknowledgement is great, but money talks!)
With less than a year to go until I submit my thesis (God willing!) I have now had to start saying “NO” to many (most) requests for work outside of my actual PhD research. I admit that I feel a bit bad about that, especially after learning how much people appreciate my non-PhD work, but I also know that if I keep saying yes, I’ll have to say no to the PhD. And that would just be silly.
As for me, I have a bit more PhD work to catch up on… but I’ll keep catching up on the blog, too.