Author Archives: vaniagalmeida

Vania Almeida: Are you writing a Marie Curie Individual Fellowship proposal? These tips can be useful!


At this time, you should be prepared to review and edit your manuscript. My personal advice is: attention to the details!

In the last stage of my proposal, i.e. after to have a first draft ready for editing, I spent some time looking at evaluation forms. In my opinion this is a great help in the final editing process. You can find the self-evaluation form here

Today, I will share with you my personal experience and evaluation report. I hope you find some of this information useful and that you can use it to improve your proposal.

Criterion 1: Excellence – 4.70 (Weight: 50.00%)

Strengths of the proposal: multidisciplinary research project; clarity of objectives; research methodology adequate and well described; bidirectional transfer of knowledge between the experienced researcher and the host institutions demonstrated; inclusion of a career development plan.

Weaknesses of the proposal: weak technical description of a specific idea.

Some comments from the evaluators:

“A well-structured and relevant training programme, with appropriate transferable and technical skills development, is presented.”

“There is a commitment to work with the experienced researcher to develop a career development plan, which is to be commended.”

“The expertise of the host institutions and the supervisors is clearly demonstrated, of high quality, multidisciplinar and match perfectly the research objectives.”

”The experienced researcher has clearly identified the objective of obtaining a permanent academic position and shows the potential to reinforce the position of professional maturity after the fellowship.”

Criterion 2: Impact – 4.80 (Weight: 30.00%)

Strengths of the proposal: impact on the researcher’s career well demonstrated; dissemination, communication and public engagement strategy well detailed; preliminary plans for commercial and clinical exploitation included.

Weaknesses of the proposal: intellectual property issues not very well detailed.

Some comments from the evaluators:

“The applicant will acquire a diverse set of skills, not only related to the research methodology, but also to administrative and project management.”

“The Dissemination strategy is clearly described and all the relevant channels are properly taken into account.”

 Criterion 3: Implementation – 4.80 (Weight: 20.00%)

Strengths of the proposal: work plan well-articulated and coherent; deliverables and milestones well documented; commitment of the host institution clearly demonstrated.

Weaknesses of the proposal: timing of secondment and dissemination activities unclear (it is really important to have a detailed Gantt chart, it should include public engagement, workshop activities and conferences planned).

Some comments from the evaluators:

“The management structure and procedures, including quality management, are appropriate and professional.”

“Both host institution and secondment partner have the necessary infrastructure to support the activities of the experienced researcher.”

“The participating organizations form a balanced consortium and have the necessary complementary competences and experience.”


I got a total score of 95%.

Vania Almeida: The importance of outreach activities and its impact on general public

The importance of outreach activities and its impact on general public is often underestimated by researchers in the preparation of their research proposals. An outreach plan should be included and justified on the basis of the proposal, aiming to make scientific career more attractive and improve the acceptance of innovative solutions among citizens.

This plan should be detailed but flexible enough to adjust along the project duration. It is important to propose some activities, identifying the target audience of each one, in what way and when the public will interact with project results and information about how to measure the results of these communication initiatives.

Today, I am sharing my experience as a Native Scientist mentor ( This is a non-profit enterprise that aims at empowering immigrant communities through science outreach. Native Scientist promotes science and language learning among school pupils who have bilingual background. As a mentor, you have the opportunity to develop your communication skills while promoting a better social integration of these communities. Currently, the portfolio of languages covered in the UK includes: French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Turkish.

In my opinion, engaging with pupils in the classroom is one of the most rewarding experience you can have. These sessions  can have a huge impact on students, providing living, working examples of how young people can interact with science and increasing the interest to STEM subjects. Additionally, it allows me to promote the profession of medical technology research to the next generation of potential scientists.

More information about my session:

Vania Almeida: How to combine your research interests and a well-balanced training program

Marie Curie Individual Fellowship program is an interesting opportunity for those who aim to reach and reinforce a position of professional maturity in research, particularly through the exposure to complementary skills training.

The quality and appropriateness of the training is one of the items evaluated within the excellence, one of the three criteria score. It is essential to delineate a reliable plan with your supervisor and the local HR team. If you are doing it for the first time you can find useful the Vitae Research Development Framework (RDF) that can help you to identify your strengths and the training needs.


I am working at Aston in two main working packages:

Research skills: My supervisor is helping me with most of the required training. However, I have decided to attend specific training in statistics, namely the Academy for PhD training in Statistics (APTS), a course designed to support research PhD students, but useful from those from other transferring in to statistics from other disciplines. APTS organises four residential weeks of training each year, this year in the University of Cambridge, University of Nottingham, University of Lancaster and University of Glasgow.

The Royal Orthopaedics Hospital is providing me the essential clinical training to facilitate good working practices while on secondment, namely training on the assessment, measurement and monitoring of vital signs and mandatory training sessions (including infection control, information governance and data protection, dignified treatment of patients, health and safety).

Complementary skills training: Aston offers a great number of versatile courses and excellent mentoring support for early career researchers, e.g. communication, project and finance management, IPR and copyright.

Additionally, Research & Enterprise Office runs several sessions along the year covering specific funding calls and several workshops specific to take researchers through all the steps they need to take to make a successful funding application. I find this really useful for the researchers moving from another countries, it is an interesting way to become familiar with new opportunities and developments in the funding landscape.

Vania Almeida: Career development plan

If you are preparing (or intend to prepare) a MSCA-Individual Fellowship your proposal should include a career development plan. It means that in addition to research objectives, the proposal should include the researcher’s training and career needs, including training on transferable skills (e.g. communication, time management, organizational, leadership), supervisory and teaching, planning for publications and participation in conferences.

Why is it important? A clear plan will help you to maximise the training and development opportunities, as an on-going process.

Career development is most effective when it is started early, preferably during your PhD. This process will be most effective as you have a clear perspective about your career objectives in a short term and/or long term. You can start thinking about your skills, personality, and your past and current work experience. But, do not forget to think about what really motivates you!

Finally, but no less important, look at the employability. The following data are referring to what physical sciences and engineering doctorates holders do 3.5 years after the graduation. Numbers from Vitae [1] suggest that 70 % work outside of higher education (HE) while 30% work in the HE sector. These numbers are not surprising for me due to the importance of doctoral graduates in business sectors built on science and technology. More information about biological, biomedical, social sciences, and arts and humanities is available here [2]. What is more surprising, for me at least, it is how PhD holders are employed in HE sector: 16% in teaching roles, 35% in research and 49% in other occupations.

A teaching position is probably the main goal of most of us who intend to pursue a career in HE, but these numbers suggest that probably we are underestimating the number of opportunities in “other occupations”. Do not forget to prepare yourself to these opportunities along your career path.

At Aston, you can book the Careers and Personal Development Planning training. Our HR team will help you to delineate what suits best for you.



[2]   (an account is required to access this information)


Vania Almeida: Coming home for Christmas

Coming home for Christmas

It has been almost four months since started my Marie Curie Fellowship at Aston University. It has been an amazing adventure for me and I feel that I am learning too much (new posts coming soon)!

I came home for Christmas to be with my family. Every time I return home I feel lucky to live in a special place located in the Paiva valley (Portugal).
The Paiva River is considered one of the least polluted rivers in Europe. It is known by its natural beauty, biodiversity and green and dense vegetation.
It is a lovely place for a walk surrounded by unique landscapes or for a rafting journey!

Make us a visit! – 2015-08-22 12.48.01 P1030251en

Vania Almeida: IPSIBiM project

My research project entitled “Improved Patient Safety through Intensive Biosignal Monitoring” project targets the monitoring of post-operative patients, an area where hospitals are facing difficult experiences in targeting early signs of patient deterioration,  leading to late intensive care referrals, excess mortality and morbidity, and increased hospital costs.

Nowadays, there is an increasing interest to improve patient safety during hospitalizations. So, it is fundamental to detect clinical deterioration early so that clinicians may intervene before a life-threatening event occurs.

The major limitation of early warning systems is that they are based on manual checks performed by nursing staff, and that the observations only occur intermittently.

This projects consists of the implementation of a system based on wireless recording of real-time vital signs and analytical algorithms capable of providing guidance to clinicians of early signs of deterioration.

It aims to be specific to post-operative orthopaedic patients. Typically, caring for the orthopaedic patient includes a multidisciplinary team and treatment that includes: acute pain control, monitoring for post-operative complications and rehabilitation.

The potential health benefits are evident to the patients, avoiding serious patient safety incidents attributed to lack of systematic vital sign observations and providing a better decision-support system for the interpretation of vital signs. However, the economic impact of such systems (reducing the time allocated to bedside monitoring and also, reducing the hospital stay) is of great importance to our society.

Along the project multidisciplinary technical and scientific training will be required, namely:

(to be continued…)

Vania Almeida: On my way to Birmingham

2015-08-28 15.58.08

My name is Vania. I was born and raised in a small town north of Portugal. I studied Biomedical Engineering in the University of Coimbra, Portugal,  where I graduated in 2009. Also in 2009, I started my PhD project under the supervision of Prof. Joao Manuel R Cardoso, I had the opportunity to develop an electronic platform dedicated to arterial stiffness assessment. Since then I have investigated a broad range of topics, which necessitated interdisciplinary scientific knowledge since fields such as electronics, medical data acquisition to computer science.

I was awarded a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship at Aston University. My research project entitled Improved Patient Safety through Intensive Biosignal Monitoring (IPSIBiM) targets the development of a system based on wireless recording of real-time vital signs and analytical algorithms capable of providing guidance to clinicians of early signs of deterioration.

The project will be developed mainly in the Aston University under the supervision of Professor Ian Nabney. Additionally, it will be carried out in collaboration with Research and Development department of the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital (ROH), under the supervision of Mr Edward Davis, expert in hip and knee replacement surgery and in the development and use of computer navigation-assisted surgery.

This is the first post of this adventure that will probably have a big effect on my life. I will share with you both my scientific achievements and my personal experience in this unknown city.

You will get to know more about the IPISBiM  project  on the next posts…