Ms Ferro, you’re the organiser of the Scottish chapter. Can you tell us about its creation?
The idea of a Scotland chapter was born within the PhD programme in which I am currently studying: PHOQUS is a Marie Curie doctoral programme training 13 PhD students based at the University of Dundee. Thanks to these almost unique circumstances, in which all the people involved are situated in the same region, we experience all the advantages typical of networking, like being part of a multicultural and multidisciplinary environment. We were aware that Scotland, has well established networks such as the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance (SUPA) and the Scottish Universities Life Sciences Alliance (SULSA) that create a vibrant environment full of opportunities for networking and outreach. But it was still a pleasant surprise to receive so many positive answers offering support, participation and new ideas for the chapter when we contacted other MCA alumni within the region. For this reason, I would describe the formation of the chapter as a community creation, involving all of its members, and therefore representing a great start for the year to come.
How many members do you have and how many are you targeting?
At the moment, there are 23 members actively participating in the chapter. I have counted roughly another 20 members subscribed to the MCAA and currently located in Scotland. We hope to catch their interest through the activities we will carry out this year. Nevertheless, I think that reaching 23 members is already a great result for a newborn chapter.
What activities are you planning?
For this year, we are focusing on the creation of an efficient network that can collaborate to organise activities addressing both chapter members and the general public. We are planning a "Chapter Opening Night", with short talks from the members to introduce themselves and their experience, and to give them the opportunity to meet each other.
In addition, we would like to stimulate collaboration among members through a short series of seminars open to the public, with the title "The science of Sci-Fi Movies". We - believe in researchers engaging in outreach activities, and we think it is fundamental for the MCA Association to reach society, and to share what research is and what benefits are obtained through Marie Curie projects. The topic, Sci-fi movies could be of interest for academics, for high school students, for families, and for undergrads enrolled in any field, from art to the humanities and science. We will tart with questions raised by many sci-fi movies, like time travel, artificial intelligence or genetic modification. Possibly with the help of audiovisual content, we will then present what research has already achieved, which in some fields is getting really close to what 10 years ago seemed to be just fantasy, and in others has already overtaken it. We expect it to be a very intense year, but at the same time very exciting.
What would you tell members to encourage them to join?
The MCAA Scotland Chapter is a great chance for people from every background. Being part of a network of enthusiast researchers and academics, passionate about their work, can lead to personal growth as well as professional growth. The more people in the Chapter, the more opportunities will arise and the more benefits each member will see. I really hope everyone gets on-board for this adventure, and enjoys the opportunities it has to offer.