In Summer 2016, Jess applied and successfully secured a place on the EPSRC Early Career Researcher’s Forum. After her first meeting on 2nd November, we invited her to share what she learnt about the EPSRC and why she applied for the forum in the first place.
As a new lecturer trying to build a research program, it’s important that I learn to navigate the UK’s funding system with the ultimate aim of getting a project funded. That’s one of the reasons why, several months ago, I applied to join the EPSRC Mathematical Sciences Early Career Forum (the ECF).
The forum aims to introduce EPSRC and early-career mathematicians to each other, making members of the ECF aware of the EPSRC system and process, and giving us to opportunity to hear from EPSRC staff and from each other. The hope is that understanding how a proposal is processed and reviewed will ultimately help us to write better proposals.
Our first meeting was held on a beautiful day in Bristol in early November. EPSRC staff helpfully talked us through some of the finer points of their funding mechanisms and review panel operations: including when one can apply for what, how the maths team tries to manage strategic priorities, and the many possible position titles on grants. Want to know what a “Researcher Co-Investigator” is? I now almost understand!
The EPSRC staff outlined the differences in the roles of reviewers and panels when assessing proposals. Panels make their decisions mainly on the comments of the reviewers and the PI response, and will not re-review a proposal. I was especially surprised to hear of the importance of the PI response – senior colleagues emphasised how important a good PI response is even when the reviews are largely positive.
It was also great to meet other ECF members. There was one member whose work I’ve been reading and admiring for several years, but had never contacted – now I’ve made contact and will hopefully visit sometime in the new year!
I am looking forward to the next forum meeting and sharing further knowledge with fellow forum members and my wider maths research community. Until then, I wanted to pass on some useful links from the maths portfolio team at EPSRC:
- Keep up-to-date on calls for funding opportunities
- The First Grant program allows standard grant submissions from PIs who have never before applied to EPSRC to be ranked separately, taking into account the different experience level, and therefore likely different track record
- The Mathematical sciences team (contact info) are a useful resource, and are always happy to answer questions about funding mechanisms.
Right! Now, I’m off to work on a grant proposal!
Jess did her PhD in theoretical computing science at the University of Alberta, and then went on to a postdoc with Prof. Rowland Kao as part of Scotland’s Centre of Expertise on Animal Disease Outbreaks. Her research combines theoretical work on networks with data-driven applied work, in that she aims to understand real-life networks and how to solve important problems on those networks.