Meet the EMBL Events Team: Rebecca

This week we meet Rebecca Nicholl, Events and Marketing Officer at EMBL-EBI. Rebecca is responsible for the marketing of the EMBL-EBI Training programme as well as running some of the on-site (and now virtual!) training courses. She also attends exhibitions to represent EMBL-EBI Training.

Rebecca on Rebecca Street in Hamilton, Canada
Rebecca on Rebecca Street in Hamilton, Canada

At EMBL since: April 2019
Number of organised conferences/courses: 11-ish! Some of these I had started but sadly had to cancel as they were due to run during the early stages of lockdown.

Favourite place in Hinxton: It’s got to be the Red Lion pub just outside the campus gates. Especially the beer garden in May/June when the wisteria is in full blossom. We usually have one dinner at each course here, and the delegates love the history of the traditional 16th-century British pub.

This picture shows an english pub garden with wisteria plants in full purple bloom
The wisteria in bloom PHOTO: Red Lion, Hinxton

Since lockdown began. EMBL has had to change the way we offer events. What are the challenges/differences of organising a virtual conference?
For me, it’s the constant video calls that are involved in preparation, tests and meetings involved in virtualising a course. I never really paid much attention to the way my face looks or my mannerisms in face-to-face meetings, but now I am going over the top to show I am enthusiastic and engaged in the content, which felt very unnatural at first.

How have you adapted your role during lockdown?
I am lucky to have a split role, and so during this time, I have focussed more on my marketing skills rather than my events role (especially when my first few events got cancelled during the early part of lockdown in the UK). I ended up joining a cross-EMBL comms channel to help support each site during the #EMBLatHome social campaign, and met some colleagues (virtually of course) I hadn’t previously worked with.

Rebecca celebrates World Chocolate Day during her virtual course
Rebecca celebrates World Chocolate Day during her virtual course

And the other challenge of working from home I am sure we have all found, is the endless eating, snacking and grazing!

I couldn’t help tucking into this chocolate box selection to celebrate #WorldChocolateDay during our Cancer genomics course tea breaks! (Don’t tell my husband, these were part of his birthday present!)

 

 

Back in the time before virtual courses were the norm, what was the first thing you did before a course started and the first thing you did after it finished? 
First thing I did is fill up my water bottle and put on my Fitbit – with such long hours it’s important to stay healthy. No longer can I survive on coffee and carbs alone! Although since lockdown, those have been my diet staples… Last thing – catch up on the all-important sleep I missed out on.

If you weren’t an event and marketing officer what would you be?
At school I wanted to train to become a town council planner; I guess I always wanted to organise something!

What is the strangest/funniest thing that has ever happened in a course?
I did have a phone call from someone asking for a refund for an upcoming course her mum had signed her up for without her knowing as a surprise birthday present. The girl was still studying for her A-levels rather than the masters’ students audience we are advertising at.

If you were a superhero what power would you like to have?
The ability to be in two places at once; so I can be in the room making sure my speakers are keeping to time, as well as being at the event desk or checking catering, coaches and so on.

Favourite TV show?
The Great British Bake Off, and I do try to bake along with the show. But in the 2019 series, I bowed out at the quarter-finals, who wants a savoury Tarte Tatin anyway!

Upcoming virtual events in 2020 Rebecca is organising:
Cancer genomics
6-10 July

Mathematics of life: Modelling molecular mechanisms
28 Sep – 02 Oct 2020
Applications now open

Follow us:

10 Simple Rules for Making Training Materials FAIR

Melissa Burke, EMBL-EBI Written by Melissa Burke
Scientific Training Officer, EMBL-EBI

As a Scientific Training Officer I often have to pull together training on topics that are new to me. What’s the first thing I do in this situation? Well, I draw on all of my scientific training and research skills and … Google it. Yep, an internet search is my first step in figuring out what the topic is about and what’s been taught before, and whether there are any materials/images, etc that I can reuse. It’s a great source of inspiration!

But this can also be frustrating and takes quite a lot of time. Material and information tends to be scattered all across the internet. It can be hidden behind paywalls, require a login to access, or lack enough context to be fully understandable. And even then, it is hard to know whether the materials can be reused nor how to credit the original author. I often find myself going round in circles and end up recreating new slides from scratch. Why isn’t there a better way of sharing materials? One that makes them easier to find?

These frustrations are familiar to many trainers across ELIXIR and we’ve been working together to figure out what we can do about it. As bioinformatics trainers we are also scientists or researchers and this problem is something that we’ve experienced with, for example, research data.

The good news is that things are getting better for research data because of the development of the Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable principles that states materials should be quick to find, easily accessed, will work across a variety of platforms & settings and can be used time and time again. Could the same be possible for training materials?

Wiegers, Luc and van Gelder, Celia W. G. Illustration for the paper “Ten simple rules for making training materials FAIR”. DOI 10.5281/zenodo.3593257

To help answer this question we picked up on work that started at the ELIXIR BioHackathon Europe 2018 to put together 10 Simple Rules for Making Training Materials FAIR

  1. Share
  2. Describe properly
  3. Give a unique identity
  4. Register online
  5. Define access rules
  6. Use interoperable format
  7. Make (re)usable for trainers
  8. Make usable for trainees
  9. Welcome contributions
  10. Keep materials up-to-date

Hopefully these simple rules make it a little bit easier for trainers to start sharing their materials in a way that makes them easier to find, (re)use, and cite. Let’s use this opportunity to spark conversation and collaboration within global training communities that lead to wider and better sharing of materials (and the inspiration that comes with them!).

Want to know more? Read the rules in full in PLoS Computational Biology. Which of the FAIR principles do you think is most important for Training materials? Let us know in the comments.

Follow us:

Meet the EMBL Events Team: Emily Pomeroy

Meet Emily Pomeroy, who has recently joined the EMBL-EBI Events Team in the role of Events and Marketing Officer for the EMBL-EBI Industry Programme.

PHOTO: Emily Pomeroy

At EMBL since: February 2020

Number of organised conferences/courses:

I am looking forward to helping on my first event for the Industry Programme in May this year.

 The EMBL-EBI Industry Programme is a subscription-based programme for global companies that make significant use of the data and resources provided by EMBL-EBI as a core part of their R&D. The programme is unique, providing regular quarterly strategy meetings, expert-level workshops on topics prioritised by the members, webinars and other activities.

Favourite place in Hinxton area:

Royston Heath, not too far from Hinxton. A lovely place on a warm sunny afternoon for walking, exploring the woodland with the children and a glass of wine afterwards on the lawn outside the Heath Café Bar.

If you weren’t an events and marketing officer, what would you be?

A travel photographer

What is the strangest/funniest thing that has ever happened in an event you have organised?

In a previous job, my colleagues and I all had to dress up as clowns for a circus themed dinner, then walk through Leeds city centre to add to the embarrassment.

If you were a superhero what power would you like to have?

The power to make my children listen to me!

Favorite food/book/TV show/film.

Thai food is my favourite, I have watched Notting Hill more times than I can count and love reading a good travel journal.

Follow us:

In Focus: EMBL-EBI Training

In 2019 EMBL-EBI celebrated their 25th anniversary. To commemorate this milestone, a series of videos – In Focus – were filmed, including one with our very own Cath Brooksbank, Head of Training at EMBL-EBI.

In the video, Cath discusses the role of technology in bioinformatics training from past to present and through to the future.

Traditionally bioinformatics training has been face-to-face, but EMBL-EBI also have a large online training offering through our Train Online programme.  Train Online can be remotely accessed around the globe, at anytime, allowing our training to reach a much larger global audience at a time that suits the user.

Train Online is currently undergoing a makeover – check out the new look at bit.ly/betaBix

At EMBL-EBI we also want to breakdown the isolation faced by solo bioinformaticians in institutes, and bring them together with peers through our training offering – whether in person or online via collaborative tools such as Google Docs.

And of course there will be times where face to face will not be possible. Whether due to ill health, parental leave or visa issues we understand that sometimes people cannot physically reach our on-site training courses. For those times, we have our robot avatar to enable remote access to our events. Read more about our robot.

EMBL-EBI Robot Avatar facilitates remote learning

Check out our range of online courses; access anywhere, at any time.

Follow us: