Technicians make it happen!

The Faculty of Biological Sciences (FBS) held their annual Technical Staff Symposium in June in the Worsley Building.

Dr. Brendan Davies, Pro-Dean for Research and Innovation, FBS Research Strategy – outlining his views on how technicians can contribute most effectively.

Annual Technical Staff Symposium

The day included opportunities to hear the Dean of FBS, Professor John Ladbury, and the two Pro-Deans discuss strategy and also individual academic colleagues outline their work.

The day was kicked off by Christine Sharpe (Senior Technical Services Manager) followed by the Dean. Professor Ladbury explained that as government funding is focused more on research, FBS must respond with more academic staff appointments. He pointed out that there would be some dramatic changes in the faculty over the next few years, in particular the need for some major building refurbishments and, whilst this would be a painful process, the outcome would be a fantastic facility. He stated how important it is for all staff in the faculty, both academic and support staff, to engage with the process and to work together as a team to make sure the faculty is somewhere everyone can be proud to work.

Professor Kenneth McDowall, Pro-Dean for Student Education, explained his strategy for improving the student experience and said that technical staff are integral to these plans. Professor Brendan Davies, Pro-Dean for Research and Innovation, then explained his strategy for improving research in the faculty and presented his ideas about how technical staff can contribute to this.

Break-out sessions allowed staff to reflect on their experiences of the current changes taking place. They also discussed how to ensure technical staff can embrace the future and work most effectively across the faculty. The main ideas generated during these conversations were recorded and fed back by Marcus Hill, Senior Staff Development Adviser in SDDU. The content will be shared with the Dean and the attendees, and the Dean’s response and future ideas will be communicated to staff.

HR Director, Francesca Fowler and HR Manager Jo Squires outlined ambitious plans to roll-out a University apprentice scheme. The new apprenticeship opportunities are planned to be advertised by the end of 2016, with the first intake of apprentices in September 2017. Representatives from Professional Services, the Facilities Directorate and Technical Services will help inform a broad discussion about the mechanics of the scheme.

Lunch allowed time for technicians to discuss and exchange ideas from the morning's presentations.

In the afternoon, two University Academic Fellows (UAFs) and a new lecturer delivered short talks on their research work and took questions from the floor. Each of these new academics stressed how important technicians are in helping them to carry out their research. This was a good opportunity for new UAFs to see how many technical staff work in FBS and for technical staff to learn first hand about some of the new research being undertaken.

The event was followed by refreshments in the Miall social space, allowing technical staff to chat to the UAFs and new lecturer and allow time for everyone to discuss the day’s events and give further feedback.

Written by Christine Sharpe, Jennifer Baker, and Ruth Buller

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