Tag Archives: Aston University

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.


[1] https://www.vitae.ac.uk

[2] https://www.vitae.ac.uk/impact-and-evaluation/what-do-researchers-do/career-destinations-by-discipline-infographics-1   (an account is required to access this information)


Amos Martinez: Returning to Aston – First Impressions

My name is Amos, I have recently joined the Aston Institute of Photonic Technology as a Marie Curie Fellow and I have been given the opportunity to share my experiences in this blog. I am looking forward to explore and exploit this platform. I will share my thoughts, my hits and my misses. So, thank you for reading this blog, I am looking forward to your comments!

My experience as a Marie Curie Fellow, at least on these early days, will probably be different to that of other fellows since I am already very familiar with the city of Birmingham and Aston University. In fact, I completed my PhD in Aston in 2006 and by joining my old research group, the Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies (AIPT), I am joining many old friends and colleagues that have already been helping me enormously and have made me feel at home from the very first day.

But, since I left the UK in 2006, the Aston Institute of Photonics Technology has not only changed its name (it used to be known as the Photonics Research Group) but it has also aggressively expanded, attracting a number of world-class scientists over the last few years. These new additions are contributing to expanding the breadth of expertise of the group and cementing its position as one of the leading photonic research centres in the UK.

I must express my gratitude to all those newer members of the AIPT, since, without exception, they have been opened to hear my ideas, plans and thoughts and have opened their labs to me on these first few weeks.


Picture: Friendly basketball match between the Vinča Institute (Belgrade) and the Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies. During Photonica 2015, we lost, perhaps expectedly, 54-30!

I will use this blog to talk about me, my research project, scientific interests and my thoughts about returning to academic research, but this is a great year to celebrate light, optics and photonics after the United Nations have proclaimed the year 2015 as the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies.  So I will also use this blog to introduce outreach activities such as the upcoming Lightfest that will take place on the Library of Birmingham on 25th September 2015.



It will be great event, Do not miss it!

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…

Dominick Burton: Introduction

My research interests for the past twelve years have been focused on various aspects of cellular senescence, with particular emphasis on ageing and age-related disease.  I undertook my PhD at the University of Brighton (UK) where I published the first data suggesting that senescent vascular smooth muscle cells adopt a pro-calcificatory phenotype that could play a role in cardiovascular disease.  During this time I developed an interest in the possible role of the immune system in eliminating senescent cells, an area of research that is now beginning to emerge.  After my PhD I undertook a Postdoctoral position at the University of Miami (USA) to investigate the potential role of cellular senescence in prostate cancer progression following therapy.  Following this two year position I got the opportunity to move to the Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel) to not only attempt to identify potential molecular targets for specifically killing senescent cells, but also to pursue my long-term interests concerning the interaction of senescent cells with components of the immune system.

Since my scientific background is mainly focused on molecular cell biology, I wanted to expand my skill set into the field of immunology so that I would be more effective at bridging the divide between research on cellular senescence and that of immunology.  To this end, I contacted Prof Helen Griffiths at the Aston University (Birmingham, UK) to co-write a Marie Curie Fellowship grant based on various ideas I have accumulated over the years.  What made the Marie Curie Fellowship particular pertinent to myself was the emphasis on developing new skills in other research areas, immunology in my case, in addition to providing training that would enable me to become a more effective independent research leader in the future.  I was confident that if I was awarded the Marie Curie Fellowship, Aston University would be more than capable of helping me achieve my end goals.

So of course I was ecstatic when I found out earlier this year that I was awarded a Marie Curie Research Fellowship for my project entitled “The interaction and clearance of senescent vascular cells by the innate immune system” (more on this in a later blog) which I have now started as of 1st June 2015.  It is now coming up to three months at the Aston University, so what are my thoughts so far?  You will have to wait for my next blog.

Aston University profile page: http://www.aston.ac.uk/lhs/staff/az-index/dr-dominick-burton/


Welcome! The purpose of this blog is to communicate the scientific journey that newly awarded Marie Curie Fellows at Aston University (Birmingham, UK) will embark on over the coming years. Please feel free to ask questions or leave comments.

For more more information on Marie Curie Research Fellowships visit:


If you yourself would like to like to apply for a  Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship at Aston University (www.aston.ac.uk) then please contact a member of staff in your chosen research topic- Good Luck