October 2018: An ECR Update from Dan

'Go, sit upon the lofty hill, | And turn your eyes around, | Where waving woods and waters wild | Do hymm an autumn sound' (Elizabeth Barnett Browning, ‘The Autumn Poem’)

Around the campus, in these lessening hours of sunlight, branches are waving adieu to their family of leaves. What was luscious green is now golden brown and one by one, these leaves relinquish their clasp with twig and stem. Whirling and twirling like golden snowflakes in the air, they make their first and final journey towards the ground. Autumnal hues dust the pavements like demerara dusts a loaf. Every autumn, our soil rejoices upon the arrival of these leaves. Like a waiter, the wind conveys them to the ground in generous portions and over the next month, our soils will feed on this tray bake of decaying foliage.

For many, the final journey of the leaf marks the beginning of pastures new. At this time of the year, many of our Early Career Researchers (ECRs) have either begun their PhD studies or have reached a milestone anniversary within them. It is often a time to reflect upon the year that’s past, the work achieved and the goals for the future. On behalf of all of the Early Career Researcher reps, may I wish each and every one of you the very best for the next twelve months. Of course, we should also acknowledge that many of our Early Career Researchers are indeed in a post-PhD phase, working in industry, developing policy or continuing in research. In a recent BSSS Membership Benefits survey, many of you took the time to tell us how you would like to receive more information on future career and job opportunities. Don’t forget that BSSS has a Jobs and Careers page which is regularly updated: https://www.soils.org.uk/jobs-careers

Some of you have contacted me specifically regarding opportunities to enrich your CVs. One of the points discussed at the latest BSSS Council meeting was the opportunity for ECRs to become ‘Registered Scientists’ with the Science Council. To become a Registered Scientist, you will need to demonstrate your competence across five areas, namely: ‘application of knowledge and understanding’, ‘personal responsibility’, ‘interpersonal skills’, ‘professionalism’ and ‘professional standards’. Your application will ask you to illustrate how you have met each standard, usually within the last five years. Feel free to check out more information on this by visiting the Science Council’s Registered Scientist web-page: https://sciencecouncil.org/scientists-science-technicians/which-professi... or alternatively, don’t hesitate to email me with any questions: student@soils.org.uk

Thank you to those who have emailed me in the last month enquiring when recorded Annual Conference presentations will go online. I’m delighted to say that the first one has; the 2018 Russell Lecture by Professor Cheryl Palm is now available on the Society YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5to8nq116DQ&feature=youtu.be

Finally, your ECR regional reps and I are working hard on the upcoming ECR 2019 conference. We’re currently in the stages of confirming a venue and will be finalizing a ‘rough’ programme within the month. Although we anticipate the ECR Conference having a slightly more interactive feel, the spinal segments (perhaps, ‘the old favourites’?) of Oral and Poster presentations will still be included and we will send a Call for Abstracts soon.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me or any of the regional reps about anything you wish to discuss.

Until the next time,


National Rep: Dan Evans; student@soil.org.uk
South-East Rep: Emily Dowdeswell-Downey; E.Dowdeswell@cranfield.ac.uk
South-West Rep: Rupert Goddard; rupert.goddard@plymouth.ac.uk
Midlands Rep: Ernesto Saiz; e.saiz.val@keele.ac.uk
Wales Rep: Paul George; afp67e@bangor.ac.uk
Scotland Rep: Vacancy is available. If you are based in Scotland and interested in the role, please contact Dan.