Snežana Krstić (Chair of the MCAA), Roy Someshwar (Treasurer), Anett Kiss (Grants and Awards Working Group Lead) and Maria-Antonietta Buccheri (Secretary) represented the Marie Curie Alumni Association at ESOF 2014, in Copenhagen (Denmark).  Here is a short review of the activities and events organised by MCAA Board for Fellows and young researchers.

Anett Kiss, Roy Someshwar and Snezana Krstic
 
From 21 to 26 June 2014, the MCAA participated in the Euroscience Open Forum – ESOF, the largest general science meeting in Europe. This year ESOF was organised in Copenhagen under the title “Science Building Bridges”, and gathered around 4 500 participants from around the world – including prominent scientists, young researchers, students, entrepreneurs, policy makers, journalists and the general public.

MCAA achieved high visibility at ESOF by organising a range of activities throughout the six-day conference.

1. “We Built the Bridges” was a promotional event held on 23 June in the Exhibition Area. The event was organised to raise awareness among the general public of the association and its aims, as well as showcasing the opportunities within the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) and the value of European research. The session included three speakers:
 
  • Arya-Marie Ba Trung, European Commission, MSCA;
  • Marco Masia, MCAA member , Boston University & Frankfurt University;
  • Alina Mariana Balu, MCAA member, Avantum (Belgium).
 
The speakers delivered talks on several thought-provoking topics: Arya-Marie Ba Trung spoke about the Marie-Skłodowska Curie programme, while the two MCAA Fellows shared their personal experiences of being MSCA Fellows. In particular the 'bridges' they had built (across continents, disciplines and sectors) within science and owing to the Marie Curie Fellowship. An MCAA video was introduced by Snežana Krstić towards the end of the event.
 
2. MCAA Internal Meeting: An internal meeting for MCAA members was held on 21 June. Information and practical details related to the MCAA were provided, and MCAA members were encouraged to get involved in the association’s activities. The meeting was very fruitful as it provided important information on the diverse needs of members, their perceptions on certain MCAA activities, along with views and proposals on how to improve the future work of the MCAA. The meeting appeared to significantly increase interest among MCAA members in all MCAA activities, particularly in establishing Chapters and Working Groups.
 
3. MCAA Young Researchers' Poster Stand: The poster stand was organised with the kind support of the ESOF organisers. It was the first time in the history of ESOF that such an event was hosted, and it was both great opportunity and a great success for the MCAA. Our association was offered an excellent stand space in the exhibition area and this turned out to be the MCAA’s most popular event at ESOF 2014. Although the number of presented posters was not high (due to only having a very short time to organise participation),  it offered high quality and diversity, hosting researchers from different disciplines and parts of the world – from New Zealand and India to the USA (Harvard University). Young researchers who have not benefited from MC programmes also took part and expressed a keen interest in learning more about the MSCA Fellowships and future cooperation. The session also provided many other benefits: it provided good networking possibilities, and served as a hub for young researchers. We were frequently visited by journalists and other interested ESOF participants.
 
General: Beyond the above events, we were also fully engaged in dialogue with our current and prospective members, which resulted in high interest in the Marie Skłodowska-Curie programme and our association. Many young scientists from all over the world showed interest in becoming Fellows. The success of the MCAA’s participation made the hard work during the preparation and throughout the six days of ESOF a very worthwhile effort.
Our strong impression is that the MCAA participation in ESOF was a great success. Although it is not possible to measure all the positive effects, some benefits are visible already. Within the two following months, we have seen a large number of new members joining the association as a result of our promotional activities at the ESOF. We have had several Chapters and one Working Group created as a result of our activities. There has also been interest from our members (whom we met at the ESOF) in establishing new Chapters.
Special thanks go to:
  1. ESOF 2014 organisers for providing:
  • space for the MCAA Young Researchers' poster stand free of charge;
  • space for the “We Built the Bridges” promotional event free of charge;
  • room for the MCAA internal meeting free of charge;
  • registration fees and travel grants for three MCAA members who organised the poster stand;
  • excellent promotion of our events through ESOF communication channels: newsletters, website, social media;
  1. MCAA Events Working Group for a small financial contribution to expenses related to the organisation of our events and poster stand (promotional material, posters, and similar). This support significantly contributed to the visibility and attractiveness of our sessions and association;

  2. European Commission, MSCA (DG EAC) for taking part in our promotional event and kind help in establishing communication between MCAA event organisers and MSCA ESOF satellite event participants;

  3. MCAA members who attended our events and contributed to their success!

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Authors of the article:
Snežana Krstić, Roy Someshwar and Anett Kiss