Interviews with researchers

Gabriela Xavier
PhD student at Universidade Federal de Sao Paulo (3 years as PhD and 7 years at the institution) in an internship at Martin-Luther Universität Halle-Wittenberg (6 months)

1 – Please state the different CellFit activities you have participated in (i.e. workshop, Training school, STM, Annual meeting).   

I’ve been only at the Annual meeting.

2 – Have these activities been useful for you training and career development? Why?

Yes, it was very useful. Attending to the meeting I had the amazing opportunity to change knowledge with pairs, learn new things and gain a new perspective of my research work – that I would probably not develop by myself. Furthermore, it was great for networking and to get actualized about what is going on in some hot topics as iPS Cells and Extracellular vesicles, for example. 

3 – What are the strengths and weakness of CellFit? 

The diversity of works surrounding the same main theme is one strength of CellFit, and the internationalization is another very important strength. And the weakness is being some way restricted only to the invited persons. It would be very interesting if CellFit had a broad divulgation (not only among countries and universities that are part of this initiative). 

5 – How will you improve CellFit network?

As some people said at the conference, early career investigators are fresh, full of ideas and enthusiasm. And I believe that not only me, but all the early career investigators present at the meeting are able not only to bring some new ideas and but to execute them as well.

Rita Shuhmaher
Master’s student for 2 years at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

1 – Please state the different CellFit activities you have participated in (i.e. workshop, Training school, STM, Annual meeting).   

I’ve participated in 2 annual meetings (2018 & 2019) and in one training school (2019).

2 – Have these activities been useful for you training and career development? Why?

In my opinion, all the activities were useful for training and career development for several reasons:

a. The annual meeting allows me to be exposed to different methods and new approaches that I can later apply in my research

b. The annual meeting also allows me to create an open scientific discussion with students and researchers, which can result in new ideas and improvements

c. As a student, the experience of presenting a poster and giving a flash talk is important, not only because it helps expose our ideas and supplies us with comments about them but also because it is a till that helps us learn how to present our results.

d. The training school was very useful because I got to practice new methods that are applicable to my research, I had more networking time, and had the opportunity to exchange ideas with students across Europe.

3 – What are the strengths and weakness of CellFit? 

I think the major strength of CellFit that it creates an environment in which you are exposed to and exchange ideas and methods, which can lead to improvement or new applications in your research as well as new collaborations. I also thought that the 3 min flash talks in the last annual meeting were good because we were exposed to all of the different posters. However, I felt like there was no dedicated time later to discuss the posters in more detail with the presenters.

5 – How will you improve CellFit network?

I would add dedicated time for discussion after the 3 min presentations, so researchers and students can go into more detail regarding their research and share their ideas.

Mário Fernandes
Bairro Pimenta Machado 75, Azurém, Guimarães/1st year of PhD at University of Minho.

1 – Please state the different CellFit activities you have participated in (i.e. workshop, Training school, STM, Annual meeting).   

I have participated in the annual meeting.

2 – Have these activities been useful for you training and career development? Why?

This has helped me in training oral presentations, learn more about my area of work and what’s being developed in recent years. Furthermore it has helped me in getting important new ideas for my work.

3 – What are the strengths and weakness of CellFit? 

The strenghts incorporate the possibilitu of a trade of knowledge and the development of better communication and trade of knowledge and ideas as well as the enrichment in the scientific areas of the investigators. No weaknesses to point out.

5 – How will you improve CellFit network?

I can bring a lot of new feedback as well as new interesting work that I and my group are working on. Along with that I have a diverse background that can help all the investigators in problem solving.

POSTDOCTORAL RESEARCHERS

Nicolás Matias Ortega
ostdoctoral researcher at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden  since 2017.

1 – Please state the different CellFit activities you have participated in (i.e. workshop, Training school, STM, Annual meeting).   

Workshop in Belgrade 2019 and Annual meeting in Athens 2019. 

2 – Have these activities been useful for you training and career development? Why?

The activities have been very positive and therefore important to interact with other scientists at different career stages and listen to the latest advances in their fields. While participating we share our struggles with some techniques and experiments and work jointly about possible solutions to overcome them. Moreover, the meetings help see our own research from different perspectives and get new ideas in order to make novel experiments in the bench back home. Last, but not least Important, these networks will hopefully lead in fruitful collaborations in the near future. 

3 – What are the strengths and weakness of CellFit? 

I think a main strength is how broad and general are the topics, this is positive because one can with no doubts learn a lot from this multidisciplinary group of big scientists. The possibility of having training schools is amazing for early career researchers. I also like that organization is divided into 4 different working groups. Is difficult to criticise because I understand all these meetings require a lot of effort and organization that as attendees we don’t really see.

4 – How will you improve CellFit network? 

I think that one way of improving Cellfit network can be creating a mail list, where people can upload questions about their research, share their latest publications, post available positions and internship possibilities in their labs, maybe also other conferences or local events. I am a follower of the Facebook webpage and I enjoy the updates, but surely not all the researchers use Facebook but they certainly use email.

Shuai Chen
Postdoc (tenure track), 4 years; since Oct 1st 2019, scientist (permanent position).
Institution: Leibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology (FBN), Germany.

1 – Please state the different CellFit activities you have participated in (i.e. workshop, Training school, STM, Annual meeting).   

I am a relatively new member of the CellFit community. So far I have participated in the “Cells communicate” workshop, and the 2019 annual meeting. Our PhD student recently applied to the “Basics to Work with Extracellular Vesicles“ Winter School for this December in Tartu.

2 – Have these activities been useful for you training and career development? Why?

I received the first knowledge on extracellular vesicles (EV) from my colleague after she attended a CellFit meeting, and the EV research fascinated me immediately. Through cooperation with the team of Prof. Alireza Fazeli, chair of the executive committee of CellFit, we initiated a study on investigating EVs secreted by different in vitro models of the porcine oviduct epithelium. The outcome sets the basis for developing my project related to oviductal EVs, which has recently been successfully funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

3 – What are the strengths and weakens of CellFit? 

Strengths: The CellFit offers a platform for European scientists, who focus on 3D models that more closely recapitulate the in vivo environment, to exchange frontier knowledge and expertise; meanwhile it also links the fundamental research with clinical application. It promotes international cooperation among researchers sharing the same interest. 

Weakens: As a biologist, I would wish for more participation of engineers/material scientists    in the future.

4 – How will you improve CellFit network?

I think the organisation committee have really done excellent job in organizing different activities, for scientists and students at different levels. We may benefit from building connection with other specialized societies, e.g. the international society for extracellular vesicles, and inviting their board members to related meetings to gain input from different sources. I am glad to see that we had the opportunity to meet researchers also outside Europe.

 

Javier Arturo Sánchez-López
Postdoctoral Fellow, 4 years/The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

1 – Please state the different CellFit activities you have participated in (i.e. workshop, Training school, STM, Annual meeting).   

I have attended all the Annual Meetings 2017-2019

2 – Have these activities been useful for you training and career development? Why?

The meetings have been transcendental for me. I have experienced scientific discussion in a friendly environment with senior researchers of the action. I have made good colleagues from other research groups. I have exchanged valuable knowledge that has helped the development of my own research ideas of my present research and ideas for my future research. 

In addition to this, and most specially, it was through the previous COST action during my PhD, that I got to travel for collaboration with the research group where I work now. 

3 – What are the strengths and weakens of CellFit? 

Strengths: Multidisciplinary group of researchers/Variety of topics of expertise/Diversity of thinking and approaches to science that can enrich your own work/ Network for exchange of scientific expertise (STSM)

Weaknesses: The research interests can be so diverse that in occasions, the focus of the action feels disperse/ There seem to be a lack of integration between the PIs and the young researchers/ This could be more personal, especially regarding the last meeting, but the communication between the organising parties could have been stronger to attend the needs of the conference in advance. For example, delegating tasks to the students and other members, with time in advance to organise and prepare.

4 – How will you improve CellFit network?

  1. I liked the idea of the early career researcher session. What I think it lacked was the presence of PIs that could give the perspectives on the topic. I would organise the session in advance, prepare questions, ask some selected PIs to attend and give examples of their careers, and maybe stories of their academic careers. I can volunteer myself to do this. 
  1. The coming meetings need to have more clarity in the announcements. Specifically, after the experience of the posters, I know that some people read very well emails, others ask when it is not clear. But many did not understand the information. So I would ask that we communicate among committee members to understand that key information we transmit is clear. We should make use of the online resources to inform the members of the action and use more the email communication or any other social media available. (Let’s use more our young researchers to assist us).
  1. I (and others I’ve spoken to) feel that the sessions lack the activity of young researchers. Besides the presentations, there is not much PI – young researcher interaction. This can occur only if the students are interested on contacting the PI, otherwise, the PI attention is not on them. Personally, I am more active on doing this, but this can also be a matter of my character.An idea to encourage this could be by allocating a lunch session, where people are assigned randomly to sit with a PI, then can engage in informal discussion without the pressure of the PI.A dedicated short session for young researchers could be organised, where only the speakers PIs are coming to meet, discuss and interact.
  1. To publish on the website available for the members of the action, jobs and positions that the labs from the action might have.