London ASSET Meeting Conclusion
The JIC’s Agricultural Scientist Support Exchange Team (ASSET) met in London last month to close out a year of exciting events. The 16-person team represents 12 nationalities, building relationships between scientists from all over the world.
JIC postdoctoral scientists Nadiatul Radzman said:
“The event is a door opener for amazing opportunities to do great science that hopefully will be a game changer for the agricultural field.”
ASSET establishes peer-partnerships between our region and Sub-Saharan Africa, increasing early-career scientist effectiveness through the power of buddy-accountability, expertise exchange and coaching. Through training and mentoring young scientists and promoting technology transfer, targeted research and multidisciplinary partnerships, ASSET hopes to build agricultural development capacity in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Last November the inaugural team assembled in Kigali, Rwanda, to take part in a leadership and management workshop run by HFP Consulting. Participants then developed documents crucial for their success in 3 rounds of peer review facilitated by the team leader Jodi Lilley, JIC postdoc and International Development Coordinator (People Partnerships).
The London event brought 12 of the 16 team members together with professional coaches Vanda Morgan and Toni Clarkson. The aim of the meeting was to share learning stories from the last year of work and develop tailored networking strategies to achieve specific goals for the coming year in advance of the Crop Engineering Consortium and Grand Challenges annual meetings that many members attended directly after the event.
Ihuoma Okwuonu, Postdoc & Head of Tissue Culture & Genetic Transformation Unit at the National Root Crops Research Unit in Nigeria, said:
“It was nice and inspiring to be updated and learn from the progress made by the individual members of the group. The trainers did a nice job in making the process really interactive and for explaining the wonderful sites we saw during our boat ride.”
Biniam Ghebreslassie, PhD student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Kenya, said:
“In that short period of time we were able to recap and update each other. We were able to share our short and long term goals and plan to support each other in reaching those goals.”
JIC PhD student Javier Galdon-Armero said:
“I think the session was very well driven by Vanda and Toni. It was especially interesting to see the impact that participating in ASSET has had on many of us, affecting our motivation and even career achievements. I felt the ASSET spirit was still alive and that I was still part of something great.”
After the session Toni Clarkson shared the following:
“I was very struck by the welcoming, positive, vibrant spirit that existed. A huge attitude of ‘can-do’ and anticipation. And that was all the more remarkable given the team hadn’t met for a year. I left feeling very, very uplifted.”
The programme was part of the Crop Engineering Consortium (CEC) developed by Christian Rogers to mobilize in areas of technology transfer and scientific community building and affiliated with the Biosciences eastern central Africa (BecA)-JIC Alliance (coordinated by Christopher Darby, Director of International Strategy and Liaison).
“Strong international partnerships revolve around people. It is a sense of personal connectedness that sustains partnerships in the long-term. ASSET is an excellent example of this connectedness, in that it builds partnerships around the subjects that matter most to early career researchers. ASSET is also a model of best practice for two-way capacity building between north and south, recognising as it does, that all researchers are on a continuous learning journey”.
ASSET contributed to the winning entry for the BBSRC Excellence with Impact competition including the adoption of 16 as JIC’s ‘special number’. The re-connection event in London was funded by the JIC’s BBSRC Impact Acceleration Account.