BSSS ECR 2019: One week to go...

Dear all,

There remains just one week before this year's BSSS Early Career Researcher conference, held at 'The Edge' in Sheffield.

My committee and I are determined to make this a truly memorable conference; a platform from which we can share our research and become inspired by others; enrich our existing networks and cultivate new, exciting collaborations; hone our techniques in dissemination and science communication. It’s an opportunity to think not only about our individual contributions to wider disciplinary knowledge, but about the fascinating research gaps and challenges, and how we, as the next generation of soil scientists, can harmonise our efforts to conquer these and promote greater soil sustainability.

We have been working hard over the last six months to construct a programme that aspires to facilitate these endeavours. Please go to:
https://www.soils.org.uk/sites/default/files/events/flyers/final-program... to see the final programme. Whilst our time together is short, I’m sure you’ll find the agenda both intellectually invigorating but also fun and friendly as well. Our oral presentations will, I’m sure, be ‘lighthouse’ moments, spotlighting novel, creative, impactful contributions to our discipline. Our poster carousels will engineer engaging interactions and stimulate thought-provoking discussions. I’m sure these Oral and Poster sessions will demonstrate how significant our roles are in securing sustainable soils for future generations but what of our own futures? To address those, we have organised two expert-led workshops this year addressing two essential components of early career research: the Viva experience and future career opportunities. We have sandwiched a number of ‘break-out’ sessions, too, from caffeinated chats with your local ECR representative, to our off-site, team-based photo quiz at the local Botanical Gardens. We hope that an hour’s saunter in arguably one of Sheffield’s most exquisite public spaces will cultivate new friendships, enrich existing networks and ventilate our minds with fresh air and, quite possibly, fresh ideas.

At this year’s ECR conference, we shall be officially launching the BSSS ECR Time Capsule. This will be buried at a location and date (to be confirmed) later this year and we hope many of you will be able to watch it being lowered into the soil and, indeed, attend a potential reunion event when it’s officially opened at our Society’s 100th anniversary celebrations in 2047. The time capsule will, we hope, capture your experiences of being a BSSS Early Career Researcher. We are ideally seeking a diverse array of photographs, anecdotes, memories, papers, thesis acknowledgments, and indeed anything else you feel sums up your early career experience. The deadline to send in your contributions is the 31st August 2019 and more information about submitting an item for the time capsule will be available shortly.

Finally, I am calling for any delegate who has completed a PhD to assist us as an ‘expert’ at our Viva Workshop. If you have undertaken a Viva and would be potentially interested in assisting us in this workshop, please let me know asap (before 12th April) by emailing student@soils.org.uk. Helping to convene a workshop is a great addition to a CV but if you would like any further information about what the role would entail before making a decision, please feel free to drop me a line.

A national conference is no easy event to organise and I am indebted to so many people who have given up many hours to help me prepare these proceedings. First, my wonderful team of ECR Representatives: Emily Dowdeswell-Downey, Rupert Goddard, Kirsty Elliott, Ernesto Saiz Val and Paul George. It has been a pleasure to work with each and every one. Second, the indispensable BSSS office team, particularly Lynne Boshier and Ian Brown, both of whom have suggested great refinements to the programme and have liaised with the venue on my behalf. Third, President Sacha Mooney and Former-President Wilfred Otten. Their guidance and experience have been a beacon of support over these last six months.

I wish you all an inspiring ECR conference next week.

Best Wishes,

Dan Evans