My role as an ECS rep

In April 2019 I became the Early Career Scientist (ECS) representative for the cryosphere division of the European Geosciences Union (EGU). Phew! So many acronyms… what do I actually do?

The European Geosciences Union (EGU) is the leading organisation or union of scientists in the Earth, planetary, space and geosciences fields in Europe. It is a non-profit organisation with over 20,000 members across its 22 science divisions. They foster scientific geoscience research and professional development and address key societal environmental challenges.

One such scientific division is the cryosphere, which covers all aspects of icy, snowy and cold science. I am the Early Career Scientists (ECS) representative for the division. Along with 21 other ECS reps (one for each science division), we are the voice of our members, to ensure that EGU caters for young scientists and develops programmes to promote networking and skill development. The reps ‘meet’ every two months to discuss issues and propose changes to EGU. Recently, such changes include: widening the definition of ECS to better represent the non-linear nature of a career in academia (e.g parental leave, disability and illness, national service or industry experience), suggestions of changes to awards to better reflect the diversity of scientists and implementing a jobs board to advertise new scientific jobs on offer. I have also personally been involved in working groups, targeting career development for ECS and improving wellbeing and mental health in academia.

I currently lead the working group for career development. We recently organised a webinar on non-academic careers. Four panelists from a range of science disciplines and now in a variety of non-academic roles, gave advice and tips on their experience in transitioning from research to non-research roles. Over 300 people attended the webinar live, and 725 people have streamed the content on EGU’s youtube channel since (as of October 2020). Further webinars are planned for 2021, as we continue to support ECS and their careers.

As part of the working group for wellbeing and mental health, we have spoken to a professional psychologist and are in the process of writing a blog with her to give advice on how to better handle the stresses of academia. We also organised a lunchtime yoga session at the 2020 general assembly. Unfortunately, due to the outbreak of coronavirus, this session was cancelled.

Further activities that I have been a part of include: promoting the LGBTQ+ social events and twitter account launch, organising in-person and online social events and quizzes for ECS throughout the year, attending a leadership and strategy workshop, convening a ‘great debate’ with over 400 attendees on the topic of cutting carbon emissions in the geosciences. I also discuss and vote on the awardee of the division ECS outstanding scientist award.

I feel very lucky to be part of an active and fun cryosphere ECS team. As part of the team, we have two chief editors of the weekly blog, social media managers, outreach officers and many many blog authors and editors. As a group, we organise short courses at the general assembly. Previously, these have included: how to find funding and write a research grant, blogging for beginners, polar sciences career panel and meet the EGU editors. We have regularly been awarded the best EGU blog and have lots of traffic to our weekly posts. We are also very active on twitter, where we highlight interesting science papers, promote our blog posts, post job adverts and interact with the wider cryosphere community. I think the warmest of people study the coldest of places.

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