Pre-Conference Networking Opportunities

In the weeks leading up to the National Postdoc Conference 2021 (NPDC21), a series of online social events to network with postdocs from across the UK was organised. These were informal opportunities for attendees to get to know each other, share experiences and have some fun! There were prizes for the winners of games and mini-competitions - well done to those who got involved!

Dates: 5 August - 20 September 2021

All events took place online, on either Zoom or Kumospace, and participants were reminded to follow our code of conduct. Our guidance on accessibility for the platforms and websites used was also provided.

These activities were designed for everyone to get to know each other in a relaxed, informal setting. We very much welcomed cameras on and the involvement of any children and pets who wanted to join.

Date and time

Activity

Platform

5 August: 3-4pm

Virtual Coffee

Kumospace

11 August: 1-2pm

Sustainable Art Show

Zoom

17 August: 3-4pm

Online Pictionary

Zoom

23 August: 2-3pm

Supermarket Sweep

Zoom

3 September: 7-8pm

Virtual Movie Night

Zoom and Kumospace

8 September: 6-7pm

Pub Quiz

Kumospace

17 September: 5-6pm

Codenames Game

Kumospace

20 September: 1-2pm

Speed networking

Zoom

Detailed descriptions of the above events are below.

NPDC Virtual Coffee - 5 August: 3-4pm

Hosted on Kumospace

A virtual coffee session to meet some of the attendees of the conference as well as members of the organising committee. This event was hosted on Kumospace, which allows you chat to others over video but while moving an avatar around a virtual space. It better replicates a real-life coffee break at a conference, allowing you to move between different groups and have small-group conversations. You have to bring your own hot beverages, but there was a prize for the best mug!

There was also a kids “scavenger hunt” activity.

Signing up for Kumospace takes 30 seconds and just requires your name and email address. For those unfamiliar with Kumospace we have put together a quick guide on how to register and use it

Sustainable Art Show - 11 August: 1-2pm

Hosted on Zoom 

In the last year a lot of people have turned to art as a way to express themselves and be creative at home. This event was a craft-along. We gave 30 minutes to create a piece of art by using things you’d usually throw away or recycle (think toilet rolls, egg-cartons, bottle top lids) and any art supplies you have. For inspiration, try some of these ideas. Whether it’s a Picasso or a Piccas-NO, there was the possibility to win a prize in our virtual art show! Children were welcome to join in the fun too. Creations were shared with the group and favourites were showcased on Twitter (with permission) with prizes available!

Participants were invited to share any arts and crafts projects completed over the past year. 

Online Pictionary - 17 August: 3-4pm    

Hosted on Zoom 

Sometimes things get lost in translation, and that’s half the fun! We played an online party-game “Gartic Telephone”, which is a mix of Pictionary and Telephone. Players joined on Zoom and were provided with a unique URL to play the game in small groups. Players alternated drawing and guessing until they reached the last turn, and discovered whether they'd all been drawing the same thing, or had been drawing at cross purposes!

The first person might start drawing a hamburger, but the last person may have been drawing an armchair with a cow on it: crazier things have happened… This was a great way of informally networking with attendees of the conference and to have a bit of fun. We offered prizes for the funniest misunderstandings in the form of two £10 Love 2 Shop Vouchers.

Access the Guide for playing Gartic Telephone online.

Supermarket Sweep: Household Edition - 23 August: 2-3pm

Hosted on zoom 

We never thought we’d live in a time that a weekly trip to the supermarket (or home delivery) was the highlight of our week! So why not re-create the supermarket experience at home? Based on the classic British television show, we challenged participants to get out from behind the desk and to gather up common household items from different categories. The fastest person back won! 

Children were especially encouraged to get involved and show the adults just how speedy they could be! We also played our version of the Logo game and memory games with prizes for the winners. 

We also asked participants to choose one item that represents their experience as a postdoc and/or of lockdown, and to share why. At a time when we’ve relied on technology to work, treats to keep us motivated, and tracksuits to keep us comfy: what items did they rely on?

Virtual Movie Night - 3 September: 7-8pm

Hosted on Zoom and Kumospace 

Let’s face it, we’ve spent a lot of the past year, on our sofas watching the telly! But we’ve missed having the communal experience of going to the cinema or watching a movie with friends. We invited you to our virtual movie night, bring your own popcorn and drinks!

We watched Nowhere Boy (dir. Sam Taylor Wood, 2009), a film about John Lennon’s teenage years and meeting George and Paul before forming the Beatles. Filmed and set in Liverpool, it’s like a virtual visit to learn the history of one of the city’s icons! We had a live Watch Along on Twitter with the conference hashtag #NPDC21Movie from 5pm.

Then, on Zoom, we had a talk by historian of The Beatles, Dr Marcus Collins (Loughborough University). We then moved onto Kumospace, a virtual networking space for a more informal chat about the film and a quiz (see our Kumospace guide) with prizes!

The film can be viewed via this link on Box of Broadcasts, an archive of recorded live British TV, which you can access using your university log-in. If you search “Nowhere Boy” and “Sam Taylor Wood” (the director) it’s the top result. It is also included with a subscription to Amazon Prime Video.

Pub Quiz - 8 September: 6-7pm

Hosted on Kumospace 

The year 2020 was THE year of the virtual quiz, we all did so, so, so many! Let’s keep our brains ticking over and come along and join us for a good ol’ virtual quiz for old times’ sake.

We hosted this event on kumospace where you can go to the bar for a drink, so it actually felt like you were at a pub quiz!

Codenames Game - 17 September: 5-6pm 

Hosted on Kumospace

For postdocs used to describing their research in lots of precise terminology comes the ultimate challenge. In this describing game, brevity is key. From a grid of 25 words, the spymaster must use all their cunning to describe a set of random words using just one ‘codename’ for their team to guess. What word might link together “screen”, “indoors” and “pants” (oh yeah, “pandemic”).

Participants had to use all of their wits, as they were pitted against a rival team to identify all “their” codenames first while also being careful not to accidentally alert the “assassin” and end the game entirely.

This family-favourite game took place over Zoom - each team was given a unique URL to play in small groups on their browsers. 

Visit our Codenames guide.

Speed Networking - 20 September:1-2pm

Hosted on Zoom 

One of the best parts of a conference is the chance to meet up with old friends or meet new people. This networking event was an opportunity to get to know other postdocs, to make new connections and renew old ones before NPDC takes place at the end of the week!

In this lightly facilitated networking session, we put people into small groups to meet people outside of their university or research field. At the end we asked them to make posters using MURAL to represent their overlapping research interests and collective experiences as postdocs from across the UK.

Participants were encouraged to include research areas, hobbies, interests, favourite food on a bad day, pet peeves, what postdocs have in common, anything which represents their group.

Think before printing

Where possible, please consider the environment before printing any of the materials from these sessions. Join the campaign at http://thinkBeforePrinting.org

Did you know?...The Guinness Book of Records holds Liverpool as The Capital of Pop with more Liverpool artists hitting Nº1 than any other town or city.

Nick Grimshaw

Nick Grimshaw

Nick Grimshaw graduated from the University of Liverpool in 2005 with a DiPHE in Communications and Media studies. The radio presenter is best known for hosting a variety of BBC radio 1 shows such as The Radio 1 Breakfast Show and Drivetime. He has also presented TV shows such as T4 and The Album Chart Show and was even a judge on The X factor.

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