The demand for skills development in the molecular biosciences

Derry MercerBy Dr Derry K Mercer, Principal Scientist at Novabiotics Ltd & member of the Biochemical Society Policy Advisory Panel

The UK Government recently published a Green Paper ‘Building our Industrial Strategy’ in which the urgent need for developing skills in further/higher education and the workforce was outlined. The document noted that while the UK higher education system was strong, our achievements in basic and technical skills was relatively poor and has led to the lower levels of productivity compared with other advanced economies.

The skills issues were outlined as follows:

  • lack of basic skills;
  • shortage of high-skilled technicians below graduate level;
  • skills shortages in STEM sectors;
  • the need for informed career choices;
  • lack of lifelong learning opportunities.

For anyone working in the molecular biosciences, whether in academia or industry, most of these concerns can hardly have come as a surprise and represents a huge problem for a growing sector that currently generates turnover of over £56 billion per annum. Indeed, the skills and productivity gaps were pointed out in an earlier UK government documentFixing the foundations: Creating a more prosperous nation’ in 2015. Continue reading “The demand for skills development in the molecular biosciences”

The Very Best Things About PhD Life

By Gareth Raynes, Aberystwyth University

3While every PhD experience is unique, there are big areas of overlap between experiences of PhD students regardless of discipline; I’ve spent several months speaking to a number of PhD students from across the UK, all in different fields and at different stages of their projects. Despite this wide range of backgrounds and circumstances, several aspects jump out as being ever-present markers of a PhD project; the unifying factors that connect together to make PhD life what it is.
So what are these common factors? And why do they make PhD life so great? Continue reading “The Very Best Things About PhD Life”

Supporting women working in STEM careers

By Emma Pettengale, Commissioning Editor, Portland Press

The United States Census Bureau says that although women make up nearly half of the working population, they remain underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) occupations. In the UK, the Women in the STEM workforce (WISE) campaign strives to achieve gender balance in the sector.  Recent figures from WISE (Nov 2016) show that while there have been some increases, women still only make up 21% of the Core STEM workforce in the UK. Globally, women make up an average of 28.4% of those employed in scientific research and development according to a recent report. There is a need to encourage and support women in STEM, and the Biochemical Society and Portland Press actively supports female members of the life science community in their goals. 

I asked a selection of female scientists from across a range of fields to talk to us about what drew them to science and the female scientists that they most admire. Continue reading “Supporting women working in STEM careers”

How to start writing your thesis

By Dr Ruth Nottingham, Impact Officer, University of Nottingham

ruth-nottinghamSo you are final year PhD student and the moment has finally arrived for you to put down your pipette and pick up a pen. It’s time to write a thesis!

This is an exciting time, it is the final hurdle of the PhD process and the finishing line is most definitely in sight. The tricky part is working out how to start, as whether you like writing or not the thought of writing something as large as a thesis can be a bit daunting.

To get past the fear of starting I leapt into the writing process, deciding that generating words however good or bad or in whichever order was the best way to get my thesis written. This worked out in the end but there are better strategies out there, so I thought I would share with you what I wish I had done. Continue reading “How to start writing your thesis”