Early Career Microbiologists’ Forum Update

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05 / 05 / 2020

I’m Robert Will, the Early Career Microbiologists’ (ECM) Forum Communications Representative for the next two years. I am a PhD student in my second year at the University of Cambridge, researching bacterial disease using genomics, and am really excited to continue Rebecca Hall’s work as part of the Executive Committee, to represent early career microbiologists throughout the Society and beyond.

I hope you have been enjoying this issue of Microbiology Today, highlighting the many ways microbiology matters. I want to use this theme to discuss the ways that early career microbiologists matter, especially to the field itself. In the not-too-distant future, current ECMs will be the leaders of our field, running their own academic research groups, flying high in industry and making social change as policy-shapers, to name just a few potential career paths. The challenges we face as a discipline are as large as they’ve ever been; we need to address the climate crisis, ensure our food security and tackle the rise of antimicrobial resistance. Thanks to the Society’s A Sustainable Future project, we have seen how microbiology can impact almost all the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, and it will be incredibly interesting to see the ideas and projects than spin out of the initiative. A lot of this research will be carried out by ECMs, so never doubt the impact you could have!

The Society has made great efforts integrating ECMs into its governance, having them present on all Society Committees and Council. This means that no matter what decisions are being made, early career viewpoints are included to make sure the Society is listening to and benefiting everyone.

As an early career researcher, there are many benefits of being part of the Society’s ECM Forum, not least the ECM Forum Event Fund. This awards up to £500 to ECMs, covering a variety of activities that benefit early career microbiologists. This could include inviting a speaker to give a talk, a careers advice session, or holding a symposium, workshop or small conference. The format is very much up to you as an organiser, with support from the Society. The next closing date will be 30 September, so there’s still plenty of time to dream up a great event that not only helps ECMs around you, but also promotes the field of microbiology.

Finally, we are all dealing with the large changes brought about by COVID-19. This has meant the cancellation of all Microbiology Society events in the near future, which, while extremely sad, I think we can all agree is the right decision. We, as a field, should be leading the way, showing and educating the wider public as best as we can. Please stay safe and healthy, follow the expert advice, and help those that need it. Take care everyone!

Robert Will headshot
Robert Will

Communications Representative, ECM Forum Executive Committee