SWDTC Conference 2016- Building Bridges in Research

The 5th annual SWDTC conference ‘Building Bridges in Research’ went out with a bang. The conference was hugely successful. A massive 100 postgraduate students from Bath, Bristol and Exeter universities made their way to Exeter’s great hall ready for a day of inspiration and collaboration.

This year’s conference focused on the PhD journey from start to finish, How might you begin the process of collaborations both interdisciplinary and with externals? How does your own identity impact upon your research? Where can you go with a PhD? What are some of the barriers that you face? And how can you bridge the gap between industry, society and academia? These important questions made up the theme of this year’s conference ‘Building Bridges in Research’.

The conference began with an inspiring opening speech from Professor Debra Myhill. The morning session then began with an inspirational keynote speech from Professor Manuela Barreto around the impact of identity and stigma. The morning session was then divided into three key streams with postgraduate speakers presenting some really inspirational work.

The afternoon session started with an exciting panel discussion on collaboration delivered by 4 experts within academia and industry:  Dr Craig Knight, Professor Stewart Barr, Dr Thekla Morgenroth, and the Research Co-operative. The conference then split into three sessions of postgraduate presentations and workshops, all aimed at demonstrating the impact of identity, collaboration, equality and diversity.

After a delicious lunch poster presentations provided by postgraduate students were judged by 3 expert academics. Congratulations to Matt Samson, Cambridge University, for winning the competition and a huge thank you to all those who designed a poster, there were some fascinating displays of research!

The final workshops and postgraduate speakers were followed by an incredibly inspirational speech by Dr Rainer Anders who talked about the impact and difficulty of collaborations, talking about his work with Ukrainian refugees and how collaborations are an important focus of any successful research.

Finally, I want to say a huge thank you to all postgraduate speakers, poster presentations and attendees. It is thanks to you, and the keynote speakers, that this year’s conference was a talked about event for weeks afterwards. Special thanks need to be said for the excellent work of the conference committee and the SWDTC staff for organising and delivering such an inspiring event to give SWDTC postgraduates a taste of research presentation and a means of networking between the doctoral training centres. Finally, I would like to thank Professor Sally Barnes for an emotional and moving speech to close the conference.

See you at next year’s conference!

Stacey Heath, Conference chair (2016)