In the coming days, the SDRC are publishing a series of blogs featuring Early Career Researchers who are sharing how COVID has impacted their research and career prospects. The first blogs in this series also featured in our COVID Research Impact Report which we published in April. Read the full COVID Research Impact Report here.
Today’s blog is by Miriam Scarpa, PhD Student at the University of Glasgow. Follow Miriam on Twitter here: @miriamscarpa4
My name is Miriam and I am a 3rd year PhD student in Translational Pharmacology at the University of Glasgow, investigating drug targets for neurodegenerative diseases. My research involves animal studies which require long-term planning. My project is funded by the MRC until September 2020. This was supposed to be the most productive and fruitful phase of my PhD, not only in terms of experimental work, but also publications and conference presentations. With my supervisor, we have recently obtained some funds to enable us to start a new collaborative project. The pilot study itself should have taken 5-6 months, starting from animal breeding to the analysis of the results – this had to be postponed until the University facilities will be back up and running as normal, which might be too late for my involvement, considering the approaching deadline for my PhD completion. Another collaborative new study, that has already been set up to complete this April, had to be delayed implying that the money spent for it so far were lost.
I have been very pleased with the outcomes of my PhD so far as I made interesting and important discoveries, and this year I have finally been accepted to present as oral communicator at a popular meeting held by the British Pharmacological Society, as well as I was invited as speaker for an Early career researcher Symposium for an institute that has caught my interest for future job prospects. These (like many more) would have been important opportunities for me not only to present my research to the scientific community, but also to network and create contacts for potential future jobs. It’s safe to say that these events have been cancelled/postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the meetings will be happening virtually – very grateful for technology! – but the networking aspect will not be the same. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted my experimental work as well as my career prospects. My worries lie in the fact that it will be unlikely for me to complete my experiments, publish and present my research on time, before my project funding runs out. I would like to apply for fellowships to continue my research, but I am concerned this won’t be possible because either the funding landscape will change due to this crisis, or because I won’t be able to meet the requirements e.g. publications.
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If you are an Early Career Researcher that would like to share how COVID has Impacted your work, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org