Guest blog

Blog – ARUK North-West Network ECR Day

Blog from Jo Sharpe

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Blog – ARUK North-West Network ECR Day

This month, the Alzheimer’s Research UK North-West Network held their annual Early Careers day at the University of Manchester. It was an opportunity for young researchers from across the North-West to come together, share their own research and pick up some invaluable tips from more experienced academics and professionals in other careers.

The day began as any good conference should – with good coffee (and Lotus biscuits!); it was great to see people immediately mixing outside of their lab groups and universities and making new connections within their field.

Dr Jack Rivers-Auty kicked off proceedings with a talk about how to get the most out of conferences. Aside from the all-important collection of pens you should leave with, Jack shared some helpful tips about how to take away beneficial connections from both large and small meetings, and how to network effectively both with “big-wig” PIs and with other post docs and PhD students. He also offered advice on how to give a good talk at a conference and why you really shouldn’t need a laser pointer if your slides are clear enough.

For those yet to finish their PhDs, Dr Catriona Cunningham’s honest description of thesis submission and VIVA, was a highlight. She shared advice based on her own experience, clarifying the process and without skating over the inevitable stress involved.

Other highlights of the morning (aside from some excellent pastries in the break) included: “tips for a successful postdoc” with Dr Kieron South of the University of Manchester, a talk on how to commercialise your research with Prof Jerry Turnbull from Liverpool, and scientific communications officer for ARUK Honor Pollard discussing a career in sci-comm.

There was something for everyone to take away from the morning sessions, whether you were a PhD student or postdoc, whether you had career aspiration inside or out of academia.

The afternoon session saw nine early career researchers from different universities within the network present a short talk on their own research. It was inspiring to see such enthusiasm from young researchers and the breadth of dementia research going on in our area – from biomaterials to fruit flies, pretty much all bases were covered!

The day concluded with drinks and a quiz written by ECR rep James Cook that included an impressively tricky “say what you see” round. I’m sure James’s internet browser history will be quite something to behold.

On behalf of everyone who attended, I would like to thank the ECR reps Toby, Tess, and James for a fabulous event.

To see if there is an ARUK Research Network near you visit:


Jo Sharpe is a PhD Student at the University of Manchester, researching molecular mechanisms that underpin FTD and ALS. Jo started her PhD in 2017 after completing an integrated masters course in biology at the University of York. Her work goes beyond the lab, as she is passionate about public engagement  and outreach work, works to help science accessible for all.


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