[2016-08-26] The UPSC PhD and Postdoc Retreat 2016 took place last week in Skeppsvik Herrgård, close to Umeå. During two days the PhD students and Postdocs discussed their research, learned about advanced scientific techniques and had some career training. The feedback was overall very positive and the interest is high to make it to an annually repeating event. 

One intention for initiating a UPSC PhD and Postdoc Retreat was to offer training related to career development. The emphasis this year was on exercising the job interview situation. HR officer and job coach Maria Rönnholm discussed with the participants what is important before, during and after a job interview and she simulated a job interview situation. 

UPSC Retreat2016 smallPhoto: Anne Honsel The other main focus of this year’s retreat was to strengthen the PhD and Postdoc network within the UPSC. The organisers created a program that consisted not only of scientific sessions but also included team building activities and some free time for social activities and discussions. About 35 people participated and their responses were throughout positive: “It was a really good mix of technical, scientific and career training and fun”, as one of the participants summarised the two exciting days. 

The first day started with the presentation of the individual research projects. Every participant got two minutes’ time to explain his/her project to the others using a hand-drawn poster. “Many of us were first very sceptical when we heard what we were supposed to do”, said another participant. “But then it turned out to be really interesting and the time passed by very fast.”

In another session the participants developed in small groups a joint imaginative project based on the expertise of the different group members. The resulting project ideas were very innovative reaching from engineering a self-glowing Christmas tree (“Engineering of fluorescence proteins in spruce for decorative purpose”) to the “Super-Lingon”. Every project was presented and defended in front of the other groups. 

Besides those creative scientific approaches, advanced techniques available at the UPSC were introduced and the possibilities offered by the greenhouse facilities were presented. This first UPSC Retreat was organised by the PhD students and Postdocs themselves. Their plan is to repeat this event from now on annually or biannually and the overall positive resonance after this first retreat is a great encouragement.