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People and Talent Early Career Researchers Subgroup

BBSRC recognises the need to support early career researchers (ECRs) in academia or elsewhere to maximise their research effectiveness and individual potential.

The People and Talent Strategy Advisory Panel (PAT SAP)  (see related links) has an Early Career Researcher Subgroup to focus on issues related to ECR careers and development. This subgroup maintains a close relationship with PAT SAP to ensure a two-way conversation.

For the purpose of this group, we define ECRs as individuals working in either academia or industry, who are in the first years of their career after their PhD. This includes Postdoctoral academic and industrial staff funded by BBSRC grants, as well as BBSRC Discovery fellows. BBSRC recognises that career paths vary, but would usually exclude those who have established their own independent lab from this definition.

The subgroup provides advice on a range of issues relating to ECR careers, training, and development. The objectives of the subgroup and the issues to be discussed, are set out in the below Terms of Reference.


  1. To work closely with PAT SAP to contribute an ECR perspective on a wide range of issues related to bioscience skills and careers including:
    1. the skills pipeline: ensuring an appropriate flow of talented people into bioscience training for the benefit of research communities and the wider economy
    2. equality and diversity
    3. researcher mobility, including collaboration, interdisciplinary working, and movement between sectors
    4. Research culture and the implementation of the Concordat for the development of researchers.
  2. To provide advice on issues that are specific to  ECRs, including how BBSRC can:
    1. support the effective career planning of ECRs
    2. aid early career researchers in the transition to independence
    3. support ECRs in accessing the training and development opportunities they need
    4. best engage with the ECR community
  3. To seek input from the community and provide advice on the current and emerging skills needs of ECRs
  4. To consider and advise on the impact of BBSRC policies and activities on ECRs

Ways of working

  • The group will meet twice per year.
  • One meeting will be aligned with the People and Talent SAP meeting, to ensure cross-talk between the two groups.
  • Members of the subgroup will attend and present to the PAT SAP group when appropriate.


The subgroup aims to have approximately ten members (including the Chair and a Deputy Chair who is a member of PAT SAP), and will consist of:

  • Chair (Karen Liu)
  • 5 postdocs based in academia
  • 1 BBSRC Discovery Fellow
  • 3 postdocs based in industry

Members based in academia should be working on BBSRC-funded projects, while those in industry should be working for a company with which BBSRC has an established relationship, and/or who were supported by BBSRC during their PhD. The BBSRC Discovery Fellow will be expected to gather input from other fellows to feed into conversations at the ECR subgroup meeting.

Across the subgroup as a whole the following experience is included:

  • of working as a BBSRC-funded postdoctoral researcher in an academic environment
  • of working in an industrial environment
  • of supporting the professional development of PhD students and postdoctoral researchers
  • of communicating the impact of research
  • of engaging with both researchers and the wider scientific community (e.g. policy makers, funders, science communicators, those supporting innovation etc.)
  • of researching scientific topics across the breadth of BBSRC remit.

We will make efforts to ensure diversity in the group including diversity of career stage, gender, and geographical distribution.

Current members

  • Karen Liu, Chair - King's College London
  • James Allen - University College London
  • Tegan Darch - Rothamsted Research
  • Emma Duncan - The Babraham Institute
  • Sarah Lee - University of Birmingham
  • Laura Rapley - GlaxoSmithKline
  • Andrea Rivera - University of Portsmouth
  • Charlotte Brassey - Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Matt Bawn - The Earlham Institute
  • Nikki Mackie - University of Bristol

If you would like to find out more about how as a postdoctoral researcher connected to BBSRC you can get involved in this subgroup, please contact