A year in the life of PiCLS, SLS Postgraduate Society

Published on 20 December 2019

Elena Purlyte, lead of the PiCLS committee between May 2018 until September 2019, has looked back on the achievements of the committee during her tenure.

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Elena said, “These were truly great and inspiring years working with amazing and motivated people to make the PhD student experience in the School of Life Sciences just a little bit better.”

In this time, PiCLS has worked on several projects over a number of different areas that impact on postgraduate life in the School. A key action in order to achieve this was to restructure the way PiCLS work – they now have 3 subcommittees – the PhD representatives, events and the symposium committees.

PhD representatives

PiCLS have worked hard to create a PhD representative committee within the School. Divisional PhD representatives are now part of PiCLS, which previously had not been the case.

“For the PhD representative work:

  • We have raised concerns about the lack of information available about bullying and harassment. This has led to discussions with and great help from Inke Nathke and Carol MacKintosh. Inke and Carol have gathered the information about available resources and soon it will be available on the SLS website. We really hope that PhD students as well as other members of the SLS community will not only know what to do in case they are bullied or harassed but also will remember that this behaviour is not tolerated and will stand up for their friends and colleagues. Together we can work to make SLS a better place!
  • To encourage PIs to recognise their role as mentors to their PhD students, we have instated the PiCLS Best Mentor Award. PhD students submit nominations and PhD representatives together with some external judges choose the nomination that reflects best the qualities of a great mentor. The PiCLS Best Mentor Award 2019 will be presented at the SLS Year in Review! We are very thankful to have received so many inspiring and amazing nominations.
  • Recognising the complexity of the academic career we have organised a few panels from our own PIs to tell us a little bit about their academic career path. We thank David Murray that led a discussion on this topic in the SLS as well as Claire Halpin, Davide Bulgarelli, Edgar Huitema, Gordon Simpson, Jorunn Bos, Paul Birch, Piers Hemsley and Sarah McKim who formed a panel to discuss staying in academia at the James Hutton Institute.
  • We were also heavily involved in gathering feedback for the catering provision for the SLS and making sure that the needs of PhD students are met.”

PhD representatives 2018-2019: Azul Zorzoli (MMB), Claire Gorby (CSI), Johanna Ainsworth (MRC PPU), Ricardo Canavate del Pino (BCDD), Marcus Bage (CB), Guillermo Serrano Najera (CDB), Abigail Corsie and Lydia Hepburn (GRE), Aurelia Bezanger (PS)

Events Committee

“On a different side of PiCLS, our events team has been kept quite busy as well organising events to make sure postgraduate students have opportunities to socialise as well as to excel at their work. It has now become a tradition for the new postgraduates to join the PiCLS retreat where they can get acquainted with the Scottish outdoors as well as have a chance to present the work they intend to do for their rotation. For Burns night we hosted a Scottish dance night – Ceilidh. For the annual PiCLS lecture this year we had Malcolm Skingle from GSK to talk about working in industry and collaborating with academics. And in summer we hosted the PiCLS Dodgeball tournament, shout out to team Focaccia who were the winners!”

PiCLS Events committee 2018-2019: Veronica Pravata, Mateusz Gregorczyk, Ricardo Canavate del Pino, Aurelia Bezanger, Dinesh Shah

Symposium Committee

“PiCLS brought back the old tradition of the PhD student symposium that was organised by the PiCLS Symposium team led by Mateusz Gregorczyk, it was a great success! Due to secured external funding we had a chance to invite speakers from not just the EU but also from the USA. We had Ben Parcell (NHS Tayside), Wendy Bickmore (University of Edinburgh), Helmut Grubmueller (Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry), Donita Brady (University of Pennsylvania) and Hao Wu (Harvard University). We also had talks from our PhD students as well as a poster session and afterwards – a dinner with some live swing music from Ali Affleck and the Bedlam Swing!”

“All of this would not have been possible if not for all of the amazing people involved. Thank you everyone for making this an extraordinary experience, transcending all expectations,” concluded Elena.

PiCLS Symposium committee 2018-2019: Mateusz Gregorczyk, Azul Zorzoli, Claire Gorby, Johanna Ainsworth, Marcus Bage

“SLS, be proud of so many motivated and active postgraduate students!

And a big big thanks for Lesley Coates from the PhD Admin office for her help.”

Story category Student experience