Posted on 7th October 2020 by Bethan Warman

Going virtual for BCI PhD Day 2020

BCI PhD Day 2020
This year's BCI PhD Day took place via Zoom.

On 23rd September 2020, Barts Cancer Institute (BCI) held their annual PhD Day, which is a celebration of the work of our postgraduate research students and an opportunity for them to showcase their research to fellow students and academics. The event was organised by the BCI PhD Forum - a group of BCI PhD students that organise events/workshops for the PhD students within the Institute, with the aim of improving the overall PhD experience.

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, this year’s PhD Day took place online via Zoom, and 130 staff and students tuned in to watch the live presentations by our students.

Henry Gerdes, President of the BCI PhD Forum, said:

“We have received a lot of very positive feedback from members of staff about PhD Day. Despite the challenges of converting the conference to an online event, the student presentations were engaging and informative. In addition, PhD Day became an international conference with a wonderful keynote speech from the incredible Dr Shannon Stott. Thank you to all the people who have helped with PhD day, especially the talented members of the PhD Forum, PI judges and Director’s Office.”

The event was split into five sessions, with two poster sessions, a three-minute thesis presentation session, a session of 10-minute presentations from third-year PhD students and a final Keynote Speaker session.

An international keynote speaker

BCI PhD Day 2020
Dr Shannon Stott, Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School, was the Keynote Speaker at this year's BCI PhD Day.

The virtual format of this year’s PhD Day made it possible to invite an international speaker to deliver the Keynote talk. Dr Shannon Stott, Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School, spoke to attendees about her career path - from graduating as a Mechanical Engineer, her journey towards biomedical engineering and cell biology, and starting her own research group. Dr Stott gave our students some great advice for navigating their own career paths, highlighting that a change in direction is not a failure, and that success comes in many forms.

The PhD Forum received very positive feedback about Dr Stott’s talk from PhD students, who appreciated the honest and personal account she gave about her academic journey and her openness when answering questions.

Congratulations to the award winners

PhD Day came to a close with the announcement of the prize winners. For each session, students and the BCI’s Principal Investigators (PIs) voted for their favourite presentations. Congratulations to this year’s winners:

  • Poster Prize
    voted by PIs - Leonie Kohlhammer
    voted by students - Syahmi Azman
  • Three-Minute Thesis Prize
    voted by PIs - Josephine Carpentier
    voted by students - Lavanya Sivapalan
  • Ten Minute Presentation Prize
    voted by PIs - Sarah Johnson
    voted by students - Judit Csere

Watch Josephine Carpentier’s winning three-minute thesis presentation below. The aim of the three-minute thesis presentations is for researchers to present their work in an engaging and accessible way in just three minutes. Being able to summarise their research in a way that non-scientists can understand is a vital skill for researchers to have.

Dr Sarah Martin, Director of Graduate Studies for Research at BCI, said:

"Well done to all our PhD students who presented and took part in our first virtual PhD day, it was fantastic to see the amazing science that is being performed across the institute by our students. Even during current circumstances, the quality of the projects and presentations was extremely impressive."

Well done to everyone who made the first virtual BCI PhD Day a great success!


Category: Events, General News

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