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REVIEW – YSS Funding Workshop on 10 May 2013

10 and twenty and fifty pound notes

The annual YSS Funding Workshop was held at the RSS in London on May 10th. The workshop is intended for those who are at the start of their statistical career or those studying statistics at postgraduate level who are interested in applying for a fellowship in the near future. This year the workshop focused on applications to the EPSRC and MRC. We had a great line-up of speakers who gave us the inside scoop on what makes a successful grant application!

Prof. Mark Girolami of University College London gave an insightful Plenary Talk entitled “Funding for Career Young Statisticians – A Personal Perspective”. During his presentation, Prof. Girolami highlighted the importance of talking to colleagues throughout the funding application process. Giving examples from his own experience, he discussed the value of a fresh perspective from colleagues at all levels.

The Plenary Session was followed by presentations from research council representatives. Dr. Vivienne Blackstone (EPSRC) and Mr. Mark Pitman (MRC) each gave a detailed overview of the funding opportunities and application procedures for both grants and fellowships offered by their respective funding bodies. Both presenters independently mentioned that, due to the current peak in funding, there are plenty of good opportunities for statisticians at the moment!

In the third session of the morning, we heard from Prof. Jon Forster and Dr. Linda Sharples. As Panel Members for the EPSRC and MRC respectively, Prof. Forster and Dr. Sharples expanded further on the application process and outlined the characteristics of good (and not-so-good) applications that they have seen. A recurring theme throughout the morning was: Feedback Is Key. Comments from the research council panel, colleagues and referee assessments of previous applications (available online) are invaluable resources that early career researchers should take full advantage of.

Four early career statisticians took to the stage in the final session of the day to tell us their success stories as fellowship and grant holders. Dr. Stephen Connor (University of York), Dr. Simon Byrne (University College London), Dr. Jessica Barrett (MRC Biostatistics Unit, Cambridge) and Dr. Helen McAneney (Queen’s University Belfast) outlined their personal journeys through the application process. These four entertaining and informative talks were followed by an equally lively panel Q&A session with our speakers.

We look forward to seeing many attendees presenting their funding application success stories at a YSS Funding Workshop in the near future!