Alumni, team building, grant writing - about 40 PhD students and postdocs from UPSC spent two days at Skeppsvik Herrgård around thirty kilometres outside of Umeå. After two years of distancing, the interest was high to join this years’ UPSC PhD and Postdoc retreat on September 28 and 29. The general feedback afterwards was very positive.
In autumnal weather, the PhD students and postdocs started very early on Wednesday morning with a joint bus drive to Skeppsvik. After a welcoming coffee to get everyone weaken up, the programme started with an alumni session. Four UPSC alumni working now in different professions were invited and shared their experiences. It was an extensive session lasting the full morning and it was highly appreciated by the participants.
"It was motivating to hear what is possible"
“The alumni session was very enlightening. There was one person that moved to industry, one who went into publishing, one became a teacher, and one recently started his own research group”, said Sanchali Nanda, one of the participants. “It was interesting to hear how it went for them, to get to know which steps they took in their career and which role UPSC played for them. The alumni did not hesitate to talk about their struggles and emphasized how networking was a big part of their career progression. All of them were not so long ago in the same career stage as we are now. It is motivating to hear what is possible but also what to think on when choosing a certain career path.”
After the lunch break, the programme went on with team building activities. The participants were split up into smaller groups and the groups had to perform different tasks like for example doing together a jigsaw puzzle, sorting themselves according to different categories like shoe size or age without talking to each other or play the Helium Stick game. Standing in two opposite rows and holding a stick horizontally on their index fingers, they had to lower the stick to the ground without anyone losing the contact with the stick which astonishingly tends to move upwards instead of downwards.
"It is much easier to ask someone for help when you have spent time together"
“Our goal was to bring people together. These games were not necessarily related to research, but people needed to work together and like this got to know each other better,” explains Clément Boussardon, one of the organisers of the retreat and postdoc representatives at UPSC. “It is much easier to ask someone for help in the lab when you have spent time together and laughed together. That is why we think that such activities also profit our work as researcher at UPSC, and we are very grateful for the support from UPSC that allowed us to organise this retreat.”
The second day of the retreat was focussed on funding possibilities for young researchers in Sweden. Caroline Grabbe from the SLU Grants Office presented possible grants for young researchers and gave very useful advice on grant writing. Even though it was disillusioning for several participants to hear that there are not many grants for PhD students and postdocs available in Sweden, they appreciated a lot to receive this information together with the tips on grant writing as this allows them to plan their career accordingly.
The two days were rounded up with an afternoon session focussing on discussions and planning of future activities. This was a follow-up on discussions that were started during the UPSC DAYS 2022 focussing on improving UPSC, but the goal now was to go more into detail and find possible solutions for identified problems. The retreat was organised by the UPSC PhD students and postdocs themselves. It was organised before in 2016 and 2018 and was planned to take place in 2020 but was postponed two times because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
For questions regarding the UPSC PhD and Postdoc Retreat 2022, please contact a member of the organising committee:
Clément Boussardon (
Thomas Dobrenel (
Sara Raggi (
Sara Westman (