Postdoctoral Researchers Research Seed Funding project

Posted on: 7 May 2024 by Dr Cordelia Dunai in Researchers

A headshot image of Cordelia Dunai
Dr Cordelia Dunai

Dr Cordelia Dunai is a Research Associate in Clinical Infection, Microbiology & Immunology in the Institute of Infection, Veterinary and Ecological Sciences, working in the Professor Benedict Michael's Infection Neuroscience group.


A really great way to spend a Researcher Development Concordat-allocated professional development half-day occurred on the 6th of March 2024. For the 3rd year running this in format, the Infection, Veterinary and Ecological Sciences (IVES) Research and Impact committee made funds of up to £2.5K/project available for postdocs’ research seed funding. There were six excellent candidates who presented to the audience, who then voted for the top candidates. A virtual dice was then rolled to pick the three winners in an unbiased manner (£2-2.5 K/each).


The event was organised by the IVES postdoc association, which has 8 core team members from several different departments on both Liverpool and Leahurst campuses (Ana Sato, Joanna Urbaniec, Olivia Ingle, Aisling Brady, Claire Hetherington, Sian Pottenger, Cordelia Dunai, and Sam Whiteford). As is tradition, a previous winner (Dr Cordelia Dunai) was master of ceremonies for the event. Breakfast and lunch were served with time to network before and after the presentations were finished. The registration was a simple 2-minute form with which the presenters signed up. The format for the talks was: 5 slides in 5 minutes with time for 1-2 questions from the audience to discuss afterwards.

The event was held in a nin-person/zoom hybrid manner to ensure people from other sites and overseas could join (including a presenter, Dr. Tessa Cornell, from The Gambia). Furthermore, this meeting provided an opportunity to have a brainstorming sessionb with the full audience and disseminate useful information about opportunties availabel to postdocs. The brainstorming session was about research culture and setting expectations led by Professor Greg Hurst, plus information about the R&I directorate from Tina Lewis, and about Prosper from Stefania Silvestri. Several postdocs mentioned that they learned more concretely about the Researcher Development Concordat in this session than previously before. The most exciting part was hearing the pitch presentations on diverse projects.


The areas covered in each pitch presentation were:

  • Gap in knowledge/background
  • Question
  • Hypothesis
  • Research proposal (with exact costing)
  • Impact
  • Collaboration
  • Future plan/application plan

The criteria that the audience voted on were:

Engaging presentation: for oral presentations: was the speaker engaging? was the information presented clearly?

Impact and Innovation scores should capture the projects' potential for scientific progress. How does it affect society and the economy? Is the project utilising novel techniques or technologies? Is it addressing a novel question, or using a novel framework?

Scientific rigor scores should capture your evaluation of a projects technical merits. Is the experimental design clear and sufficient? Is the proposed work likely to contribute toward the aims of the project?

Relevance evaluated based on its potential to address important questions, fill gaps in existing knowledge, provide practical applications, or contribute to theoretical frameworks.

Collaboration: fostering collaboration within and across disciplines

The audience were invited to give feedback anonymously—specific to the presenters and also on the event and the IVES postdoc association in general.

One quote was:

 “This is a totally unique event where you can not only compete for funding but listen to short, interesting talks on such a broad range of topics and get both a yummy breakfast and lunch! I feel like all postdocs in IVES should be attending and competing!”


Three winners were determined from the audience-picked top candidates by dice roll, they have been awarded £2-2.5K to get their projects off the ground. This is a useful springboard for future fellowship applications. Winners and their projects listed in table below. More information can be received by contacting with any questions or comments.

Emily Hornett How did the ladybird get its spots?
Claire Hetherington The role of microglia in acute seizures caused by HSV encephalitis
Joanna Urbaniec Do livestock transport trailers carry AMR vectors as secret passengers?

Key takeaways

  • Research seed funding provides an opportunity for postdocs to demonstrate their research independence and gain experience managing their own funding
  • Bringing staff together in an inclusive way across sites and internationally supports a feeling of integration for postdocs in the Institute
  • This event helps postdocs to learn more about each other's research and network