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Shaping European Research Leaders for Marine Sustainability (SEAS)

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Supervision and personal career development

The postdoc period can be challenging. It is very much a transition phase and will be different for each individual. Our fellows have "supervisors" but this term is used very loosely, depending on the needs of each fellow. Some of our fellows are fresh from their PhDs and may benefit from more guidance, while others have more experience and may be ready to take on the world single-handedly. The SEAS Programme aims to provide the tailored level of support they need to thrive and and progress in their career - whether they wish to stay in academia or move on.

We have a number of systems in place to make sure there is good communication between the fellow and their supervisors. We very much keep an open door policy in the SEAS Office, so that issues can be raised and dealt with quickly and efficiently where necessary. 

Start-up forms

All our fellows complete a start-up form during the first few months of their employment. This form serves as a basis for initial discussions with their supervisory group and can flag any specific needs or concerns and starts everyone on the same page. 

Personal Career Development Plan

The PCDP is a more in-depth assessment of the progress of the fellow's research and covers their activities, training and future aspirations. This is routinely updated throughout their fellowship as their research progresses and needs change, and is signed by both the fellow and their supervisor(s). 

Well-being questionnaire

We ask the fellows to also complete a general well-being questionnaire alongside each iteration of their PCDP. This questionnaire remains confidential between the SEAS office and the fellow and allows them to flag any concerns or worries and to ask for help or support. They can provide feedback on the programme itself and their supervision.

Training

The group has grown rapidly over the last 2 years, from the first fresh-faced 12 to now over 30 fellows. As the group came together we have given them more and more responsibility to direct the content of the training, based on their needs. 

UiB FERD

UiB opened a Career Center for Early Stage Researchers (FERD) in 2021. We have worked closely with the amazing team here to provide training and support for our fellows. Courses here include anything from CV writing for industry, presentation skills and research management, to one-on-one career guidance conversations. They have also helped us curate and develop specific courses for our fellows during our annual meetings. 

SEAS fellows at a FERD training event
Photo:
If there's a FERD course running, there will be SEAS fellows there! |Selfie by Juan, with Diego, Ed, Aiste and Joao|

Bi-weekly meetings, 2024 onwards

One of the outcomes of the 2023 Annual Meeting was the desire to have regular semi-formal meetings which could generate more interdisciplinary collaborations and provide a space for more specific discussions or training. The SEAS Office facilitates the meetings but the fellows are free to fill the content as they see fit, including bringing in invited speakers etc.

The fellows are grouped into five key themes, with one theme being responsible for each meeting, working in rotation. One part of the meeting will also be dedicated to communication training, with different fellows presenting some aspect of their research, whether a scientific talk, a trial lecture they would like feedback on, or even a problem they'd like fresh eyes on.

This meeting creates the perfect environment for developing their own soft skills, as well as an opportunity to focus on more specific hard skills, all whilst building a greater sense of cohesion among the group as a whole.

Annual meeting, 2023

As the common theme of the programme is marine sustainability, this year the fellows asked to include more on this topic, as well as more general career-building training, including leadership, teamwork and diversity.

Presentation skills: each fellow was asked to produce a poster designed to introduce themselves to the wider community. These sessions were open to the university as a whole to attend. The content had to be accessible to the non-specialist. The posters can all be viewed here.

You can see the full programme here!

Annual meeting, 2022

General sessions included: Curating a strong online profile; building your career; skills auditing; academia vs non-academia; working in a team

Presentation skills: each fellow gave a 15 minute presentation of their background and their research project, filmed and with a general audience

Writing skills: The annual meeting was followed by the writing retreat in Os

Writing retreats

Our initial writing retreat to Os with Mathew was a huge success. It set up the basis for the weekly "Clam up and dive in" writing sessions and initiated a dialogue between the fellows regarding writing, feedback, and community that has continued. There are plans to repeat this type of retreat in 2024.