NEURON Young Investigators Satellite meeting, September 2019, Lisbon

The recent NEURON Mid-Term symposium of the funded projects in the joint call for proposals launched in 2017 a new format for the support of early career researchers (ECRs) was introduced in a satellite workshop organized by the team of a NEURON funded consortium AUTISYN.

NEURON Young Investigators Satellite meeting
The recent NEURON Mid-Term symposium of the funded projects in the joint call for proposals launched in 2017 on the topic of ‘Synaptic Dysfunction in Disorders of the Central Nervous System’ and ‘Ethical, Legal, and Social Aspects (ELSA) of Neuroscience’ took place in Lisbon (17. – 18.9.2019). A new format for the support of early career researchers (ECRs) was introduced in a satellite workshop organized by the team of a NEURON funded consortium AUTISYN. Professor Frank Kooy (Cognitive Genetics, University of Antwerp, Belgium), Mila Mirceta, Monika Schmidt (both PhD Candidates at The Hospital for Sick Children), and Dr. Christopher E. Pearson (The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada) together developed a program specifically geared to the interests of post docs and PhD students performing their research in the projects funded in the frame of the ERA-Net NEURON. The workshop intended to provide guidance on the skills and experience ECRs are required to demonstrate in the PhD and postdoc years in order to be competitive.

Mila Mirceta and Prof Frank Kooy kindly presented the <br>Young Investigators Satellite meeting Mila Mirceta and Prof Frank Kooy kindly presented the Young Investigators Satellite meeting.

Cordially welcomed by Dr. Hella Lichtenberg from the NEURON coordination unit at DLR, Germany, 30 participants explored their specific concerns related to networking, skill acquisition, and - as Mirceta pointed out - ‘learn about exciting projects’. Presentation skills were practiced by pitch presentations of each project in which the young researchers are involved. It was highlighted that ‘presenting information clearly and effectively is a key skill in getting your messages across’.

Among all of the networking skills one can develop, the two most important are listening and asking questions., as such, Kooy encouraged the participants to actively raise questions. ‘These two skills will boost new contacts because good listening validates the value of others and shows respect. Asking thoughtful questions shows sincerity and builds trust because it actively shows an interest in someone else's opinions and thoughts…’ as Mirceta and Kooy explained.

The participants had a poster to be visited and discussed later that day, during the regular program of the Mid-Term symposium. The event was indeed very well perceived as ECR Xiao Jakob Schmitt (Freie Universität Berlin, Germany) put it: ‘A very forward.thinking workshop with interesting people and projects, and open discussions. People felt very good about it’. The liveliness and atmosphere of openness was also fostered by the didactic means of the organizers: the classical coffee break was replaced by a Neuroscience-version of the game “Hedbandz” to activate and connect the participants.

Participants of the Mid-Term symposium
NEURON makes networking an essential part of modern research: it is a regular activity owing to NEURON’s presence on social media (Facebook and Twitter) and physical networking events at the FENS FORUM (next in Glasgow, July 2020) and at the Mid-Term symposia. At the Mid-Term symposia, which occur approximately halfway into a project’s runtime, research groups from the NEURON-funded projects of a specific call share their latest achievements.


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