To celebrate International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we caught up with Victoria Hill who is completing a professional placement as part of her PhD programme in the BioExcel and EMBL-EBI training team. Read about her experience so far and future plans.
Tell us about your current role and how did you get here?
I am currently doing a 3-month professional placement at EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) as part of my PhD programme. The placement is within the training team and I help to organize training events and materials. The placement came about as my PhD is strongly computational-based within an experimental lab and so in my first year, I signed up to the virtual BioExcel summer school which has helped me a lot within my research. I then helped the Training team test a Learning Pathway they created and gave my feedback on it sometime after the summer school. I have always enjoyed teaching and training and so I decided to contact Marta Lloret Llinares who helped to organize the summer school and learning pathway feedback session and asked if there was a position for me to intern within the team. Before this, I was in my second year of four studying DNA damage and supercoiling for my PhD at the University of Sheffield where I moved after I completed a Masters in Medicinal Chemistry at Newcastle University.
What does your typical day look like?
I usually start the day with team meetings unless I am involved with a course running that day, in which case I am connected to the course Zoom whilst it is on. If there is no course, I am involved in a number of activities including the Competency Hub mapper, where I have been working on creating a learning pathway and writing up version changes based on feedback from test users; the next BioExcel Schools, where I have been helping with participant selections and with creating the handbook and other resources that will be used during the course; and finally, I have been helping with other activities in the team such as social media, online training, and short courses and webinars.
What do you hope to gain through this internship?
I hope that during my internship, I will build skills that will help me during the rest of my PhD, especially communication. I chose to intern within the EMBL-EBI training team as it is very externally-facing and so I will get more experience talking to different types of people in various settings as well as improving my science communication skills away from academia. I hope that the internship will also help me to reflect upon my own training as working on the Competency Hub and helping with courses related to the techniques I use in my own research should reveal where I need to improve my own skills.
What are your future plans after completing your PhD?
After completing my PhD, I would like to continue with biomolecular computational research. I would probably like to find a Post Doc position somewhere and after that see what happens. For the moment, I am happy staying in academia but I am also not thinking too far ahead until I get a bit further through my PhD. I am enjoying my time with the EMBL-EBI training team and also demonstrating within the undergraduate labs at university so I think I would be interested in some teaching or training opportunities in the future also.
Victoria’s placement is done in collaboration with RItrainplus, a project that has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101008503.