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National Postdoc Conference 2021 Special #1: Stronger connections

In this National Postdoc Conference special podcast we chat with Annette Bramley, Alex James, Claire Wilson and Joan Chang on how to build stronger connections, a key theme of the National Postdoc Conference hosted by the University of Liverpool taking place in September 2021.

Dr Annette Bramley has been a Director of the N8 Research Partnership since January 2018 and worked previously for the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) where her roles have included Head of Mathematical Sciences, Complexity Science and Engineering. As Head of Healthcare Technologies, Annette has had particularly significant success in galvanizing multidisciplinary research collaborations between researchers and between funders. Annette has strong experience of organisational change, having played a prominent role in the successful transfer of EPSRC’s grants services to a shared service centre, including the implementation of a new IT system. The recognition and appreciation of researchers is very important to the N8 Research Partnership and they have led successful online campaigns celebrating and recognising the diversity and excellent achievements of pioneering research talent across the N8 as part of the N8 new pioneers campaign and through being actively engaged with National Postdoc appreciation week.

Dr Alex James completed a MChem in chemistry at the university of Hull, graduating in 2016. He then started a PhD at the university of Sheffield in October 2016 working in the area of microporous polymers for applications in CO2 capture and storage. Upon completion of his PhD in October of 2019 he gained a 3 year postdoctoral research position at the University of Liverpool with prof. Andrew Cooper FRS working with industry in designing novel porous materials for challenging gas separations. IN addition to his postdoctoral research role Alex is also a co-chair of the RSA which aims to run events for postdocs and ECRs a well as acting as a bridge between researchers and the university to raise concerns postdocs may have. Outside of work Alex enjoys playing tennis where he plays at Mersey bowman tennis club and so far this season remains unbeaten! This is in stark contrast to his boyhood football club, Sheffield Wednesday, which has just been relegated to league 1.

Dr Claire Wilson obtained her MRes and PhD in cardiovascular sciences as part of a 4-year PhD programme funded by the British Heart Foundation at the University of Manchester. Her PhD work focused on the role of the protein PMCA1 in cardiac rhythm. After completing her PhD in 2017, Claire spent 10 months working as a medical writer in Manchester before starting her first postdoctoral research position at the University of Manchester in August 2018. Her first postdoctoral position studied the cardiac conduction system in heart failure. Claire then moved to the University of Liverpool in July 2020, taking up a postdoctoral research role investigating the role of non-coding RNA in transcriptional regulation. Claire is also a co-chair of the RSA at Liverpool and sits on numerous committees in the University. Outside of the lab, Claire enjoys both watching and playing sports – including being part of a local netball team.

Dr Joan Chang studied Biochemistry at Imperial College London, and received her PhD from the Institute of Cancer Research, University of London, in 2013. She has travelled and lived around the world in the name of science (Denmark, Sweden, USA, Hong Kong), and arrived back in the UK to study the nitty-gritty of matrix (read: collagen) control by cells. She is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Manchester, and is a Mass Spectrometry aficionado. She is also a Postdoc Representative – she believes in changing the traditional views on “academia”, broadening career horizons for Postdocs, and promoting well-being for researchers in general. Thanks to labs shutdown during COVID19, she initiated the expansion of Postdoc Appreciation Week (PAW) to UK and ROI-wide National PAW events in 2020 (, involving 18 institutions in the organisation, and open the events to all postdocs in/from the UK and Republic of Ireland. Outside of academia, Joan is a whisky/beer appreciator, often procrastinates too much on Reddit, and can be found occasionally chasing a frisbee disc on a grassy field.

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Further reading

Access the reading list for this podcast.

Music and FX

This podcast uses sounds from freesound: and music from Purple Planet: