Vitae Connections Week 2020 reflections

Posted 14/06/2023 by 9a4fa0b2-a68f-44ca-95b6-a2b900c1471a

The UK Research Staff Association (UKRSA) committee members reflect on Vitae Connections Week 2020

Blanca Perez-Sepulveda

Reflections from Blanca Perez Sepulveda, UKRSA Recruitment and engagement officer & Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Liverpool

This was my first time participating in Vitae Connections week, which for me started a week before during the “Connecting #Researchers” Twitter chat that I helped co-host with Rachel Cox. It was really interesting to engage with people across the UK and learn about their different experiences during these very strange times.

Starting Vitae Connections Week I had the opportunity of helping facilitate a #ReimagineResearch Café Culture led by the UKRSA co-Chair Dr Anjali Shah. During this session I had the chance to talk to researchers and researcher developers about ways in which we could improve the current culture. It was a very fruitful conversation, and it was a unique opportunity for me to hear new ideas that I believe would have a huge impact on how we approach research culture.

I was also invited to participate as a panel member in the session “Invisible support: what do researchers think of the careers support available to them?”. This session felt like a very honest conversation in which we could talk to researcher developers about good (and sometimes not so good) practices that have helped us develop throughout our career.

Overall, Vitae Connections week was a very positive experience to establish a dialogue about our current culture and how we would like to shape it.


Angela Midgely

Reflections from Dr Angela Midgley, UKRSA Recruitment and engagement officer & Research Staff Developer, University of Liverpool

As a new(ish) research staff developer having started my role in December 2019, I participated in the Vitae Connections event this year for the first time and I was really looking forward to gaining insight and learning from other people’s practice. Having provided on demand content too around Researcher networks, I was also excited to engage and network with those attending the conference.

Keynotes from UKRI CEO Prof Dame Ottoline Leyser and Minister Amanda Solloway started the week as you would hope, inspiring me to think further on how I can support researchers to be a part of “a creative and vibrant research and innovation system” by empowering those involved in increasing connectivity.

The stand out session for me was by Dr Kieran Fenby-Hulse on Equality, diversity and inclusion and why it won’t wait. A session that not only provided me with a deeper understanding of the importance of EDI within Research but also made me laugh, cry and sing! It is indeed true that people may forget what you said but people will never forget how you made them feel.

The post reflections and networking session was a great way to informally chat and meet other attendees, I left the week with a million notes, some great idea’s and feeling very “connected”.


Saneeya Qureshi

Reflections from Dr Saneeya Qureshi, UKRSA committee member, co-Chair of the Vitae Researcher Networks Working Group and Head of Researcher Development and Culture, University of Liverpool 

This year’s Vitae Connections event was an incredibly useful opportunity to reframe and reconsider researcher development and the nourishment of researcher networks in the face of the global crisis we're currently facing.

The plenary sessions in particular, provided rich and diverse opportunities to re-imagine and re-describe how we consider the research ecosystem and our early career researchers who are at the heart of it.

My key take-away from the event has been underscoring the importance of researchers as people, as connectors, as collaborators, as innovators, and why the efforts of the Researcher Networks Working Group are more important than ever.

Read more about the activities of Vitae's Researcher Networks Working Group


UKRSA: Who we are

Douglas Browning in lab coat

A message from Dr Douglas Browning, co-Chair of UKRSA and Senior Research Fellow at University of Birmingham

The UK Research Staff Association (UKRSA) was established in 2010 to provide a collective voice for researchers at Higher Education Institutions across the UK and our vision is a fulfilling career for every researcher in the UK.

Our Mission is to:

● Empower research staff to take control of their careers.

● Build researcher communities.

● Support local and regional RSAs by providing resources.

● Carry out projects into the issues facing researchers and influence UK policy.

At Vitae Connections Week, UKRSA was one of the main Exhibitors and you can check out our Exhibitor Booth where you will find posters on Parental Leave, Researcher Networks and useful information for researchers, researcher developers and managers of researchers. In addition to this, we ran a successful Twitter campaign (@UKRSAvitae) and a Wellcome Culture Café, which was hugely popular.

Above all, we want to connect to as many people as possible across the UK that share our passion for developing researchers’ careers. If you are interested in becoming involved in our work or would like to sit on our Committee please get in touch by contacting us on  Come and join The Team and let’s make a difference!