Scientistt: Cultivating a Community of Passionate Young Researchers

Jun 11, 2020 | STEM Education

Scientistt is a new networking platform for PhD students and early-career researchers, where they can connect with others in similar fields, share their work, and access up-to-date information about conferences, funding and training opportunities. In this exclusive interview, we speak with Hassan Mahmudul, Scientistt’s CEO and founder, and Callum Elson, head of marketing, who tell us all about this thriving new community, and their hopes for the future.

Tell us when and why you founded Scientistt.  

Hassan: As a research student at Durham University and in a leading research institute in Austria, I found that there is a lack of transparency regarding research life. The brightest minds are working to solve

humanity’s biggest problems, but working in research can be a lonely profession. In fact, a recent study by UC Berkley has shown that almost 50% of PhD students meet the criteria to be categorised as depressed.

Researchers have three sources of information about work done in their chosen field: published literature, conferences, and their supervisor. Literature reviews, whilst essential, can only reveal completed work; relevant conferences do not happen every week; and supervisors mostly rely on these same sources. It is very easy to become focused on the specifics of your own work and to lose a sense of what other related work is currently being conducted, especially by other graduate researchers.

Networking is an essential part of the research process to promote collaboration, generate new ideas, and prevent duplication of effort. I set up Scientistt in March 2020 to provide a platform for a community of passionate students and researchers where they can connect with others, voice their opinion, and get recognition for their work.

Why is networking such an essential part of the research process, and how does Scientistt facilitate effective networking?

Callum: Networking is an essential part of the research process to promote collaboration, generate new ideas, and prevent the duplication of effort. Moreover, it is becoming increasingly useful as a means for students and researchers to support one another, maintain positive wellbeing and gain recognition for their work. Scientistt allows the global research community to come together on one platform, and provides all the necessary services to aid their connectivity.

Who makes up your membership, and how can researchers sign up?

Callum: The Scientistt community is comprised of PhD students and researchers from over 50 different institutions around the world, and is free to sign up. Members can create and join interest-based groups and pages to interact with others that are similar to them.

How does Scientistt differ from other academic platforms and networking sites?

Callum: Unlike other platforms that are aimed towards established academics, Scientistt is uniquely aimed at students, and early career researchers, although remains accessible to all. Whilst other websites function around the submission of pre-prints and citing publications, Scientistt is a networking tool and encourages members to develop skills that are suited to both academic and non-academic careers. Through blog posts, weekly virtual networking events, interest-based groups and the journal, members can engage and interact with new people.

‘I set up Scientistt in March 2020 to provide a platform for a community of passionate students and researchers where they can connect with others, voice their opinion, and get recognition for their work’ – Hassan

How do you plan to grow your membership in the near future? What’s your ultimate vision for the platform?

Callum: There is no recipe for overnight success, and so we understand that it may take some time to grow the Scientistt platform in to the thriving global community that we aim to achieve. However, membership to the platform is increasing at a promising rate, with over 1200 sign ups in our first two months since launch. Our new weekly virtual networking events are a way that members of the community can meet through the screen and have conversations that are more personal than those that are typed on the keyboard. This, along with our growing number of partnerships with companies such as Science Diffusion, will hopefully spread the word of Scientistt to more and more people.

How do you keep the information on the site, such as newly-announced conferences, job opportunities and grant calls, up-to-date and easy to access?

Callum: We take a lot of pride in the fact that nearly all of the content generated for the Scientistt platform is contributed by members of the community themselves, allowing only information and events that have proven validation and interest to take up space. For example, most of the conferences in our database have been recommended to us by Scientistt members, who believe that other members of the community may find value in attending.

Presumably, networking through Scientistt is particularly important at present, as no conferences or meetings will be taking place for the foreseeable future. How have you helped your members to remain connected and productive throughout the COVID-19 pandemic?

Callum: Due to the current global situation, many in-person events and conferences have been cancelled or postponed, making it even harder for members of the research community to interact.

In response to cancelled conferences, we launched a Virtual Research Poster Competition, which allowed students to display the work they had planned to showcase at a local event. The competition received over 80 entries across its categories, and 30 shortlisted posters were open for public vote. Additionally, we have recently launched a weekly Virtual Networking Event, with limited tickets for those that wish to chat for a short period with others from the community. We’re hoping that both of these methods will help students and researchers through the difficult period ahead.

 

Reference
https://doi.org/10.33548/SCIENTIA517

Creative Commons Licence
(CC BY 4.0)

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Creative Commons License

What does this mean?

Share: You can copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format

Adapt: You can change, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially.

Credit: You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.

Subscribe now!


More articles you may like

Dr Stephen Walsh – The Galapagos Initiative: Saving the Enchanted Islands

Dr Stephen Walsh – The Galapagos Initiative: Saving the Enchanted Islands

The Galapagos Islands are facing increasing danger. Local and global forces – including tourism and climate change – threaten the fragile island ecosystems. The high number of unique plants and animals on the islands means that the loss of a Galapagos species may represent a global extinction event. The Galapagos Initiative, founded by Dr Stephen Walsh of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Dr Carlos Mena of the Universidad San Francisco de Quito, aims to save the Galapagos Islands with an innovative, sustainable strategy combining evidence from key interdisciplinary projects and a robust mapping and modelling program.

Dr Kenneth Johnson – Fighting Fire Blight in Organic Orchards

Dr Kenneth Johnson – Fighting Fire Blight in Organic Orchards

The bacteria that causes fire blight in apple and pear trees is notoriously difficult to control without antibiotics. With new regulations in the US preventing antibiotic use in organic orchards after 2014, organic farmers faced an impossible choice – lose their organic certification or risk the death of their trees. Working against the clock, plant pathologist Dr Kenneth Johnson from Oregon State University accelerated his efforts to provide organic farmers with another option. With his team of researchers and outreach specialists, he developed and evaluated non-antibiotic management strategies for fire blight in organic apple and pear orchards.

Antibiotic Research UK

Antibiotic Research UK

While antibiotics have transformed modern medicine, helped to extend life expectancy in the UK by as much as 20 years and saved millions of lives around the world, the rapid rise of resistance to these drugs presents an imminent global health disaster if not adequately managed in the very near future. In this exclusive interview, we speak with Professor Colin Garner, founder and Chief Executive of Antibiotic Research UK, the world’s first charity focussing on bacterial antibiotic resistance, to hear about their vital efforts targeted at overcoming the challenge of antibiotic resistance.

Alzheimer’s Research UK

Alzheimer’s Research UK

Founded in 1992, Alzheimer’s Research UK is the UK’s leading dementia research charity. Their work is dedicated to furthering our understanding of the causes, diagnosis, prevention, treatment and cure of diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Characterised by declines in memory and other cognitive functions such as thinking and reasoning, these progressively worsening neurodegenerative and ultimately fatal diseases sadly remain without a cure. In this exclusive interview, we speak with Ian Wilson, Deputy Chief Executive, to hear about the vital work conducted by Alzheimer’s Research UK.