European Crucible launches at ESOF 2012

20 Scottish Crucible Alumni from across Scotland joined Scottish Crucible Directors, Dr Ruth Neiland and Professor Alan Miller, at the Euroscience Open Forum ESOF 2012 conference in Dublin last week to launch a new academic leadership initiative called "European Crucible".

This event is the largest european general science conference and attracted more than 4,000 multi-disciplinary, multi-national delegates.

Fostering research collaboration in Europe  

European Crucible at ESOF 2012 built on the success of the award-winning Scottish Crucible and Heriot-Watt Crucible programmes for "research leaders of the future". It utilised the experiences of Scotland's Crucible alumni and presenters to introduce other early career researchers to novel approaches for fostering interdisciplinary collaboration, innovation and impact. It aimed to stimulate formation of a new, Europe-wide peer network for aspiring research leaders, and thereby help Europe meet its research priorities and capitalise on the talent of its emergent researcher community.

Commenting on the inclusion of European Crucible in ESOF2012, Dr Eamonn Cahill, Office of the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Irish Government said: "We were delighted to welcome European Crucible to Dublin as part of the programme for ESOF 2012. European Crucible addresses two of the primary objectives of ESOF namely, supporting early-career researchers and encouraging inter-disciplinary research. I hope that more researchers will be able avail of opportunities to be part of a collaborative research network like this in the future."

Conference delegates experienced a taste of the topics and techniques utilised in Scottish Crucible. They explored research collaboration with skilled facilitator, Dr Sara Shinton; discussed policy and cultural engagement with government and media experts, Dr Gill Clark from the Scottish Government and Quentin Cooper from BBC Radio 4; and considered European and international research opportunities with Dr Monica Dietl, Director of the EU's COST programme and Dr Claire McNulty from the British Council.

Dr Claire McNulty, Science Director of the British Council said: "So many of the challenges we face today on a global level cannot be solved by one group of experts alone, but need discussion and collaboration between people from different backgrounds, disciplines and cultures. The Crucible acts as a catalyst to do just that and it was a pleasure to be involved in its first international steps at ESOF in Dublin."

Opportunities for talented early career researchers

Scottish Crucible Alumni attending ESOF 2012 came from the universities of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier, Glasgow, Heriot-Watt, Manchester, Robert Gordon and Stirling. Their participation was enabled through support from their home institutions and sponsorship from the Scottish Government and Scottish Funding Council.

Professor Paul Hagan, Director of Research and Innovation from the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) said: "We are pleased to support Scottish Crucible alumni to participate in this international event. Events like ESOF are valuable for talented early career researchers from a variety of disciplines to come together and learn from top researchers and develop their potential. We hope it will lead to further productive collaborations through new networks like a European Crucible."

Building an international Crucible network

Scottish Crucible Alumni at ESOF2012 reported on the prodigious success of their interdisciplinary research activities since joining the programme and are enthusiastic supporters for building an international Crucible network with colleagues across Europe. Some of the participants said:

"The Crucible sessions at ESOF2012 revived the spirit of the full Scottish Crucible programme that I had participated in three years ago. I feel once again invigorated to tackle some of the toughest problems science and society can throw at us. I can't imagine there being any limit to what could be achieved if the brightest minds across Europe came together to interact in the uniquely inspiring way that the Crucible provides." (Dr Richard Blythe, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Edinburgh, Scottish Crucible alumni 2009)

"The Scottish Crucible network has provided me with opportunities to develop inspirational interdisciplinary projects. Our recent meeting in Dublin served as a wonderful opportunity to develop new ideas for future collaborations and I am very excited by the prospect of working with partners in Europe." (Dr Jane Stanley, School of Culture and Creative Arts, University of Glasgow, Scottish Crucible alumni 2011)

'It was very inspiring to be at ESOF 2012 in Dublin at the beginning of European Crucible. With a highly effective early career researcher training programme and growing network in the UK, it is bound to succeed on the European stage'. (Dr Tom Aspray, School of Life Sciences, Heriot-Watt University, Scottish Crucible alumni 2011 and Heriot-Watt Crucible 2012).

Discussions are now underway about taking European Crucible forward and building on the momentum for further European collaboration inspired at ESOF 2012.