EKT Real Skills for Scientists webinars-strengthening the skills of young researchers in Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Ten distinguished speakers from the academic and business world of Greece and abroad gave useful advice to young Greek and Cypriot researchers as part of the 4th round of Real Skills For Scientists webinars.

A large number of students and young researchers from Greece and abroad participated in the fourth round of Real Skills for Scientists-Natural Sciences and Mathematics webinars held in November by the National Documentation Centre (EKT), under the 'Knowledge and Partnership Bridges' initiative, in collaboration with R.E.A.L. Science and the Cyprus Research and Innovation Foundation (RIF).

During the two webinars of the series, which aimed at developing personal skills for the professional careers of young researchers and scientists, participants heard useful tips and asked experienced and renowned researchers from Greece and abroad about targeted actions for their professional development, CV creation and professional opportunities.

About 500 undergraduate and postgraduate students, PhD candidates, postdoctoral fellows, faculty members, teachers, students and researchers attended the webinars live. The audience consisted of Greeks and Cypriots who joined the webinars from their home countries and from 14 additional countries, including Germany, United States, United Kingdom, Italy, Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, Netherlands, Bahrain - professionals, students and researchers working and/or studying abroad.

1st Webinar: Creating and strengthening a CV 

The 4th round of Real Skills for Scientists started on Thursday, November 11, 2021 with five professional scientists representing the Natural Sciences and Mathematics and with professional careers in both academia and business. Dr. Zoe Kournia, lead researcher at the Institute of Biological Research of the Academy of Athens and founder of startup Ingredio, Ioannina Stoforidou, postgraduate researcher, Dr.Angelina Vidali, secondary education instructor (mathematician and computer science) and lecturer at the American College of Athens, Athanasios Dimou, geoinformatics and topography engineer and Antonis Gourdouparis, high technology engineer in the development of applications and machinery shared their experiences regarding the first topic of the webinars, namely the creation and strengthening of a CV.

Athanasios Dimou (MSc), the first to speak, talked about the importance of internships and the transition to the labour market as a freelancer. He stressed that the profession often knows no 'local boundaries' and referred to following such a course in order to acquire skills to later gain positions in education, in the field of entrepreneurship, as an external partner in the public sector and of course for continuing education. He emphasised the value of not only participating in the scientific institutions of each field but also of volunteering, since, as he said, most of the time professional and scientific collaborations start from the communities in which we choose to get involved voluntarily.

Dr. Angelina Vidali emphasised the format and possible modification of Cvs  depending on the conditions and culture that prevail each time in the country, the industry and the company or organisation to which the CV is sent. She stressed that, 'you have to ask yourself what is the main qualification required and this should be seen immediately and clearly'. She also said that before submitting a CV, good preparation is needed by exploring the industry and seeking information through people who know the area, while she also referred to social networks as being an emerging means of networking and finding work in recent years.

Ioanna Stoforidou shared the difficulties she encountered as a postgraduate student in the field of Materials Science, a recently separate field in Greece, emphasising the decision-making process until she chose how to continue her education and professional career. She stressed the importance of participating in voluntary programmes and counseling seminars, which can support and guide young scientists in the search for the next professional or academic step.

Antonis Gourdouparis (MSc) advised the participants to have a short and concise CV, as this can help them 'get' to the interview. Emphasis was placed on acquiring soft skills or non-technical skills for proper integration into a working group, in any environment. Effective communication, correct presentation of problems and actions and realistic assessment of time sharing are three basic soft skills that make the new colleague an organic part of the team.'When you understand the reasons why a collaboration failed or no one got a position, then you will be able to have real development at all levels', concluded Mr. Gourdouparis.

Dr. Zoe Kournia talked about how helpful it is for someone to set clear goals so that they head more and more towards their completion. She made suggestions about the many and different directions that a Chemist can follow today. Dr. Z. Kournia advised a lot of quality work and enthusiasm, participation at all levels, internships, volunteer work, participation in scientific companies and taking positions of responsibility. 'Ask lots of questions, look for constructive criticism, do not be afraid to make mistakes, always be reliable and consistent, work in a team', Dr. Z. Kournia concluded.

All the speakers stressed the importance for every young researcher and professional to accept failure along the way, typically saying that it is important not to give up after a possible rejection but to improve and try again as many times as needed. They also pointed out the importance of working with a mentor for the development of the course and career of the young scientist and professional.

Watch the video from the 1st webinar Real Skills for Scientists- Natural Sciences and Mathematics: Creating and Strengthening a CV


2nd Webinar – Access to Financing and Networking 

The 2nd webinar was held on Thursday, November 18, 2021 with five more excellent speakers, emphasising the acquisition of funding for research or business creation and the networking of young researchers. The speakers were Dr. Konstantinos Kakosimos, Chemical Engineer and Associate Professor in Qatar, Dr. Evangelos Gerasopoulos, Director of Research at the Institute for Environmental Research and Sustainable Development of the National Observatory of Athens, Dr. Vangelis Vlachos, Paleontologist, Research Associate at the Paleontological Museum Echidio Ferouglio, Patagonia, (Argentina), Dr. Athos Agapiou, Assistant Professor at the Cyprus University of Technology and Dr. Areti Mourka, Postdoctoral Researcher in the field of Physics at the Hellenic Mediterranean University.

Dr. Evangelos Gerasopoulos gave useful and practical tips for presentations at a professional interview. These included: explaining the composition of a working group and the role of its members; emphasising the interdisciplinary nature of newer approaches to science and the research environment. Dr. Gerasopoulos pointed out that, 'Honesty, integrity and straightforwardness are what we ask of someone. Confidence but not to the point of arrogance', when describing the qualities that are valued by employers. He also encouraged participants to use social and personal networks to find work.

Dr. Vangelis Vlachos focused on the importance of stable employment for the researcher and on the effort to find resources to fund his research. 'A permanent job for researchers is important so that long-term research projects can be implemented,' said Dr. Vlachos, noting that it is good to have self-awareness of the industry and career, as for example he is aware that  Paleontology is not a primary choice for funding for any institution. Consequently, one has to pay attention to what a financial institution is looking for in order to adapt to have a better chance of success. Finally, he advised the participants to be enthusiastic about the problem, not only about the solution, because it will keep them active.

Dr. Athos Agapiou, who works in Cyprus, presented his personal journey in the research field. Starting with his personal desire to stay in Cyprus, he explained how he acted in  order to be appropriately educated and how he will finance his research. He explained that there are now possibilities for preparing a financing proposal (examples of good practices on the internet, help from organisations such as RIF in Cyprus and EKT in Greece for proofreading, etc.). He stressed the importance of creating the right working group, which will be governed by interdisciplinarity, responsibility and reliability. Finally, he stressed the importance of scientific publications in strengthening the networking of young researchers and the creation of a strong scientific community. 

'At the centre of research is the question, the hypothesis, the problem and these can not arise without experience, without the team, without trial and error', said Dr. Konstantinos Kakosimos, explaining how a modern researcher perceives himself in the research process, as well as the skills required by young researchers. There are many roles for a researcher, noted Dr. Kakosimos, the technician, the trainer, the scientist, the writer, the author and many more that constitute the daily life of a researcher's work.

The daily life of a researcher in the field of nanotechnology was presented by Dr. Areti Mourka, while she explained how funding helps in critical areas of research life such as participation in conferences and the publication of research results. The field of Physics is multifaceted and there are many fields in which one can specialise and find the field that will enthuse a researcher  enough to want to work it in the long run. She urged the participants to participate in mentoring programmes, to talk to field co-ordinators.

All the speakers stressed the importance of writing research proposals and the importance of receiving training and constantly acquiring skills. They pointed out that networking often leads to funding as the more people are informed about someone's job the easier it is to be given the opportunity to become a member of an active working group.

The webinars were co-ordinated by Dimitris Maragos, communication co-ordinator of the 'Knowledge and Partnership Bridges' initiative implemented by EKT, Dr. Eleni Sinopoulou, founder of the scientific professional orientation platform R.E.A.L Science and George Christos, Scientific Officer of Cyprus.

Throughout the webinars, the audience were free to ask the speakers live questions, which were answered at the end of each webinar. In addition, participants could take part in interactive polls about their field of study, the grants/scholarships they have received, and the country from which they were attending the webinar.

In order for EKT to organise more efficient and targeted webinars in the future, all participants are kindly requested to fill out the feedback form that can be found here.

Watch the video from the 2nd webinar Real Skills for Scientists- Natural Sciences and Mathematics: Access to Financing and Networking


About the organizers

National Documentation Center (ΕΚΤ)

EKT, supervised by the Ministry of Digital Governance, has a co-ordinating role in the 'National Coalition for Digital Skills and Jobs'. In collaboration with reputable organisations and in constant dialogue with the educational, research and academic community, EKT develops infrastructure and services, promoting knowledge, research and innovation in the digital space. It is also the co-ordinator of the 'Knowledge and Partnership Bridges' initiative for the networking and collaboration of Greek scientists and researchers around the world.

R.E.A.L. Science

R.E.A.L.Science is a professional advocacy platform for schools and universities in which Greek Volunteer Scientists from Greece and around the world participate. The head and creator of this voluntary action is the neuroscientist Dr. Eleni Sinopoulou, who works at the University of California, San Diego, USA.

Research and Innovation Foundation

The Research and Innovation Foundation (RIF) is the national body responsible for supporting and promoting research, technological development and innovation in Cyprus. Its mission is to shape the conditions that favour the development of research, technology and innovation in Cyprus.Through innovative actions and programmes, it strengthens the domestic ecosystem of research and innovation, contributes to strengthening the competitiveness of the Cypriot economy and develops co-operation and interconnection with the international research and business community.

www.ekt.gr, with information from ΕΚΤ