From left to right (standing): Marta Contreras, Jorge Martínez, Lola Martínez, David Olmeda, Ana Losada, Adrián del Rincón; (sitting): Nicolás Cuesta, María S. Soengas, Daniela Cerezo, Ana Cuadrado, Manuel Valiente.
It bears keeping in mind when you realize just how productive CNIO can be that young researchers account for around 60% of our staff. The office of the Dean for Academic Affairs was created to assist men and women scientists in maximizing their potential and professional experience. One fundamental aim is to be of practical use to talented individuals seeking to expand their professional horizons into related areas of specialization, such as clinical research or the pharmaceutical industry.
The Dean’s Office has taken a transversal approach to meeting this challenge by drawing up an action plan to accommodate these younger professionals. It is not just about content. It applies to the way the plan itself is structured to encourage the active participation of students at the thesis level as well as post-doctoral researchers.
In practical terms, that means we solicit their input on matters such as organizing guest lectures and workshops. But what particularly interests us is encouraging them to adapt to more non-conventional ways of thinking, or let’s call it thinking from different perspectives. We also have discussed non-conventional ways of presenting and obtaining approval for major research projects. What aspects need to be considered and decided before you assemble your team or reserve long-term laboratory usage? Then there are less science-specific issues centered on leadership training or practical strategies for landing a desirable job.
Once a year the Dean’s Office sponsors CNIO Lab Day, a dynamic internal event in which students and young researchers mingle and check out each other’s work, fielding questions and comments and formulating more than a few of their own. At the end of the day, prizes are awarded in different categories, but for many of those taking part, the experience of making contact with their contemporaries and taking their feedback is as much an opportunity as it is a challenge.
By the same token, the Dean’s Office encourages student participation in activities aimed at the public at large, explaining CNIO’s progress and breakthrough discoveries. (Speaking before a non-specialist audience is a fabulous learning experience). Foremost among the events that welcome a public presence is European Researchers Night, bringing together some 200 representatives of various disciplines who show off their work in various European cities, Madrid among them Science and Innovation Week also has the Spanish capital booked as a venue for November. The Dean’s Office takes part in many of those events, organizing question and answer sessions for young science buffs. All of these activities complement educational and training programs that are part of the CNIO & the City initiative that opens up the doors of the institution to the people it serves.