Doctoral College

Doctoral Researcher Presidential Team monthly blog update (October 2020)

Written by Nathan Ritchie and Callie Merrick

Hi everyone! This is the first of a series of monthly blogs that will keep you updated about what we have been up to. We think as your LSU Presidential Team that we have an obligation to keep you updated. This way you can keep abreast of our activities and see what direction we are taking the role in.  Monthly blogs are just one way this can be achieved.  One of the roles of the School Representatives (discussed below) will be to scrutinise and provide feedback on our activities as Presidential Team. But we are always after feedback from all Doctoral Researchers, so please feel free to reach out to us at any moment, we really value your opinions.


Campus in October- Image by Martyn Edwards

Meetings, Committees, Meetings, Committees

This is the first month in our role so there is a lot to learn and a lot of people to meet. We have scheduled meetings every couple of weeks with the Education Executive Officer, Ana-Maria Bilciu and Academic Representation Coordinator, Chloe Oliver. These are a chance to de-brief and make sure we stay connected with the Loughborough Students Union. It’s also a great way to brainstorm and run through ideas.

The Presidential Team met with Associate Vice Pro-Chancellor of Doctoral College, Professor Liz Peel. We discussed our priorities for the year and Liz has helpfully offered a direct communication link if we ever need any assistance. This is the first step to developing a positive and fruitful relationship with the Doc College. We also met with Doctoral Researcher Development Officer, Dr Katryna Kalawsky, who as always has been extremely supportive and has already been a great sounding board on DR related issues.

The Presidential Team has also had meetings regarding specific issues. We met with Professor Robert Leonard Wilby along with former LSU DR president, Tom Baker. The consultation was for the Climate & Environment Task Group strategies and we discussed waste management, sustainability awareness and ways in which DRs can get involved in climate and waste initiatives. The Presidential Team has also formed their own action points around this consultation. We met Brett Friskney, the Lead Representative for Wolfson, to discuss mental health support and looked at ways we can learn from approaches of different schools at the university. We have also met with Joel Warburton and Theresa Wege to discuss the possibility of establishing a Quantitative PGR led network akin to what has been established already for qualitative researchers in LiQuiD Lab.

We have so far attended two university level meetings. On the 15th September we attended the Research Committee that is chaired by Pro-Vice Chancellor Steve Rothberg and consists of all Associate Deans of Research and other key personnel. The committee is established to discuss research related matters at the university.  In the meeting we discussed the Research Culture report by Tom Baker and Rieman Rudra and the discuss action points to come from the survey. We also attended the Doctoral College Sub Committee chaired by Liz Peel and attended by all Director of Doctoral Programmes and relevant staff. This committee is solely for Doctoral Research related matters. Items discussed were extensions, careers service and mental health support. It is staggering how much work goes on behind the scenes.

Induction

The Presidential Team attended two inductions. One in-person on the 7th October and another virtual induction on the 15th November. It was great to have the opportunity to introduce ourselves to all the news starters and promote the importance of our Representative structure. It was an unusual experience speaking to 80+ people through a laptop screen but we got through it! We are very much looking forward to attending the final induction this semester on the 2nd November.

Representation

Applications to be a representative are about to close. We are eagerly anticipating the opportunity to work with our reps. The Presidential Team really rely on having a solid team of reps in order collect feedback from each school. We are excited to meet likeminded reps who are looking to make a difference in their school and proudly represent the views of their fellow Doctoral Researchers. We have been advertising the opportunity widely, so we hope everyone has the chance to apply! You can apply to be a representative through your schools admin, or to be a Lead Representative apply here

PGR Parents Network

We have established a Facebook group for all those balancing Doctoral Researcher work with childcare responsibilities. We have had a really encouraging start with 30+ parents in the group. We hope this will serve as a space to support one another, share experiences, and develop connections. We will soon be launching our survey to better understand the experience of being a parent and completing a PhD. The aim is to develop action points to better support the community.

PhD SSN events

Your Presidential Team has made a conscious effort to attend SSN events. This is a great way for us to meet fellow researchers and also take our mind off work for a bit! We have especially really appreciated the chance to meet all the new starters and hope to see much more of you over the course of the year. We have attended the Quorn walk and fayre, the running group, walk to Burleigh woods and several PhD SSN virtual lunches. A massive thank you and congratulations to a fantastic SSN committee.

Plans for November

October has been a month of learning. Next month we hope to step up our efforts and this will be helped immensely by the unveiling of our Representatives! On Thursday 12th November, the new Reps will be asked to join a Teams meeting to ‘Meet the Presidential Team’ where we will set out our vision for working together and field any immediate questions or concerns. It will be a great chance to meet our Representatives and get to know each other better. Your Presidential Team will also be present at Loughborough London Campus SSLC meeting to discuss issues relating to the London campus and ways in which we can achieve greater collaboration across campuses this year. The Presidential Team will be attending their first Doctoral College Team Meeting on the 18th, we are excited to be a part of this and meet the whole Doc College team. We will also be attending the second Research Committee meeting on the 24th November.  And of course, most excitingly, we will continue to be regulars at SSN events, so keep posted with all the amazing events they will be putting on in November.

If there is anything you think we should be working on that we have not considered yet or if you have feedback or questions please do not hesitate to contact us at N.Ritchie@lboro.ac.uk and C.Merrick@lboro.ac.uk you can also follow us at @DRPresTeamLboro.

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