Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems

Early career researchers swap perspectives in seminars

Weekly platform supports idea-sharing across disciplines among diverse student cohort.

Early career researchers from a wealth of backgrounds are building on the success of a weekly forum in which they meet to share ideas and progress their work.

The diversity of expertise and experience among students at the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems – many of whom are undertaking a career change – has helped create an environment where everyone can benefit from a variety of perspectives.

“It has been truly brilliant,” said student representative Divya Veluguri, who has organised the seminar series with vice-representative Martín Del Valle Menendez.

Talking with others generates all kinds of ideas, she adds. “Cross-disciplinary learning helps me do my research better, frame my work better, and understand the limitations of projects.”

Early careers focus

The early career researcher seminar series was intended as a departure from traditional seminars, which are based on published research and usually invite senior people to speak, Ms Veluguri explained. The focus is on researchers at the start of their careers, but more senior staff can benefit too.

“We wanted to create a space for early career researchers to share ideas where we can cross-learn from each other, not only from our superiors. Global Academy students are very high achieving – we have an international mix of backgrounds, broad expertise and experience, from dietetics to agri-engineering to astrophysics.

“Those who have shared their work in these meetings recognise how beneficial it has been to recognise things they had not previously noticed, or simply to take recommendations from others. 

People share their perspectives, and also point fellow students to tools and methods from other disciplines that can complement their research.

Divya VeluguriStudent Representative 

In recent months since the seminars began, sessions have covered research project reviews, classes in preparation, thesis chapters in progress, and PhD theses already defended, across topics including modelling, global supply chains, ethics and sustainability, and antimicrobial resistance. Every seminar to date has featured speakers of a different nationality, reflecting the diversity of the cohort.

Seminars are held in person and online, with at least 10 researchers taking part.

Senior researchers are encouraged to see the seminar space as an opportunity to discuss their research ideas and methodologies with students.

Complementary viewpoints

“We have learned and complemented our knowledge about food systems around the world, getting to know different methodologies, challenges, and visions about this topic that we are so passionate about, in this heterogeneous community where different cultures, languages, and ways of seeing the world come together,” says Ms Veluguri.

Researchers are welcome to participate in seminars to share their experience, but also use this space to brainstorm, as a sounding board for new ideas, and to get cross-disciplinary feedback on work in progress.

The seminars are effective for sharing ideas and interdisciplinary problems, not only from outcomes, but work in development, Ms Veluguri adds.

“This is the kind of space that students deserve to have, sharing ideas that are truly globally relevant.”

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