Federico Luzi, CDT PhD student:

With the 2018 post-graduate research symposium concluded and loose ends tied up, now is a good time to reflect on the success of the event. As a member of the organising committee, I had first-hand experience of its delivery. As well as being an enjoyable experience for organisers, participants and attendees, it provided valuable learning opportunities for all involved.

I originally decided to join the organising committee because, as a scientist, I have participated in many conferences and symposiums as a delegate. However, I was curious about what it actually takes to organise these events. Having the chance to be on the other side of the curtain helped me better understand how these events work. The call for abstracts, the submission deadlines, the review process and finding keynote speakers – these were just some of the tasks to be accomplished. I must admit, I wasn’t aware of the huge amount of work behind each of these individual tasks. This experience certainly proved enriching and it will help me to better appreciate other conferences or symposiums I attend.

My contribution to this symposium mainly consisted of ensuring each electronic device worked properly. That meant controlling the laptop with the presentations uploaded. I was the one opening each presentation or video at the start of each session and distributing and collecting pointers and microphones. I was also responsible for communicating with the AV team to promptly solve any issue that might occur. Fortunately, there were no major issues and I managed to keep everything under control.

Each member of the committee participated in the abstract review, as well. This is a part that I particularly enjoyed because it helped me appreciate the work of all the people around me and their contribution to the final product. The variety of people on the committee – from different groups working on different projects and from different academic backgrounds – made the review process highly interdisciplinary and it also helped me understand everyone else’s viewpoints on various projects and subjects.

Everything worked out very well, besides some technical problems whilst finishing the laptop set-up. Fortunately, we didn’t have the same problems during the symposium itself. We managed to respect the timetable and had a positive response from the audience. My favourite part of the symposium, naturally, was the wine reception at the end because by that point I knew that we had done our work well. I felt relieved once we reached that point. That said, I enjoyed the whole symposium: the oral presentations were brilliant and well balanced across the different disciplines that the School covers. Moreover, the keynote speakers were inspiring, especially Professor Jha.

The main tip that I could give to next year’s committee is: give your best to make this School event better than the one we organised. The symposium is an important opportunity for post-graduate students to demonstrate their worth and display their recent advances. This means the organisation needs to be precise to allow students to express themselves as best as possible. Also, these events have a big impact on the School’s reputation: it is our duty to do our best to keep it first-rate.