Round-up of Day 1 at the first European Society of Veterinary and Comparative Nutrition (ESVCN) Workshop
In a log cabin nestled within peaceful woodland near Ghent in Belgium, the sun sets on the first day of the ESVCN workshop. New friendships are forming in a group that have been given a unique opportunity. Twenty researchers – in the early years of their animal nutrition careers - have been invited to the workshop, supported by Waltham. The event aims to facilitate discussion and provide guidance and advice on developing a career in this field. The three day workshop includes top tips from established researchers along with training on developing emotional intelligence and thoughts on strategic planning.Give and take
The morning began with a panel comprising Prof Geert Janssens (Ghent University)
, Prof Marcus Clauss (University of Zurich)
, Prof Ilias Kyriazakis (Newcastle University)
, Prof Pat Harris (Waltham), Prof Juergen Zentek (Freie Universitat Berlin) and Prof Wouter Hendriks (Wageningen University)
. The panel spoke candidly about their successes, failures and challenges. Lively discussion ensued, with reflections on good and bad experiences alongside tips on how to improve. Hot topics included the publication of negative results and the impact of hypothesis driven research in reducing the serendipitous findings that often lead to new discoveries. Sage advice included making sure you “give back” what you “take out” of the peer review system, which is critical to the success of scientific publications. Delegates were challenged - do you review two manuscripts for every one you submit?The power of a coffee
The afternoon focused on areas key to researchers starting out in their careers.
“How do you succeed as a supervisor?” asked Geert Jansens at the start of his session. Some of the questions that were covered included “What is the best way to develop your PhD students and provoke philosophical discussion as equals?” and “How do you uncover a difficulty that is limiting performance?” Delegates learned not to underestimate the value of taking the time to grab a coffee and chat with colleagues and students. Some of the ideas debated over an espresso or latte could be the start of your next research project, grant or just provide a different point of view.
Richard Butterwick, Global Nutrition Advisor at Waltham, led a session entitled “How do you liaise with industry?” Richard shared his own experiences of what a good partnership looks like, alongside some great tips on what to check for when scoping a collaboration with a company. He encouraged delegates to make e sure their motivation was the same as the company’s, and ask “is the company looking for a spokesperson, or a credible independent scientist who is able to challenge the business’s ideas?”
Discussion on “Strategic thinking in grant acquisition” was initiated by Wouter Hendriks. The key message when applying for funding was to be positive. Researchers should consider the many skills and experiences they have and not feel limited by what they are lacking. If they think creatively, they can find a way to make something work.
The final session for the day by Marcus Clauss shared top tips on how to develop a research portfolio. From personal experience, Marcus explained how important it was to him to have a ‘scientific friend’. He described the need for a supportive person that fits with your personality and, when you’re together, ideas are sparked easily. Another piece of good advice on a day which left delegates with plenty to think about and discuss with their new friends.