On 25 May 2023, first year AgriFoRwArdS students who are part of the Institute for Manufacturing, Cambridge, will be taking part in the first year PhD student conference. The event will involve presentations from first-year PhD research students, keynote talks, a lunchtime poster session, and a special panel session sharing how recent developments in AI – such as chatGPT – are being used by research students to augment their PhD studies.
Although the event is not directly AgriFoRwArdS CDT affiliated, to ensure the day goes to plan three first year Cambridge PhD AgriFoRwArdS students, Bethan Moncur, Paul Zuercher, and Garry Clawson volunteered to lead the planning sessions by taking part in the planning committee. This follows on from Jack Foster, a Cohort 2 student also being part of the 2022 committee.
The event itself takes place over a single day. Within the IfM 2022-23 cohort there are 23 PhD students. Each student is required to present a 10 minute slide deck on their research and also create a poster presentation for display during lunch.
This for many of the students is the first time they will have formally presented at Cambridge to fellow academics, so it can be very daunting. However, the IfM host a series of special sessions called ‘Research Development’ over the Michaelmas and Lent Terms (Oct-Dec & Jan-Marc respectively) to aid students in developing these skills. This includes formal feedback and training sessions on writing, communicating, and dealing with technical exchanges.
To get all this in order as well as attend to all the logistics for the day, this meant making sure all the students and supervisors (as well as panel speakers) knew what they were doing and what was expected of them at each stage of the process. Although the conference was only for around 23 students this takes a lot of time (and is still in progress!).
AgriFoRwArdS Cohort 3 student Bethan Moncur, who is currently completing the first year of her PhD at Cambridge and is part of the committee said that:
“I joined the committee because it is an opportunity to get involved with planning an academic event without the pressure of external guests. Plus, I thought it would be a great way to get to know other 1st year PhD students and lessen the load on the existing committee members by splitting the tasks over more people.”
Over the coming weeks each student will complete their preparation work and be able to look forward to presenting on their subject to the IfM community. This is a key milestone in the first year PhD journey as the only a few short months later at the end of August, the first year PhD report is required, and upon successful completion a student will move from a (Not As First Registered) NOTAF student to be formally registered on their respective PhD program. The benefit of the IfM PhD conference in relation to this event is that it really helps a student get organised on the progress they have made and what gaps they can build on, as well as allow feedback on progress so far to get a flavour of what the first year report review and viva is like.
Good look to all those taking part in the first year PhD conference at the IfM later in the month. You will each do a fantastic job!
Do you want to get involved in the CDT?
If you are interested in learning more about what we do and if you share a passion for agriculture and technology then go to our AgriFoRwArdS CDT website to see more about our research, how you can be involved, and how to apply to be a student in the program.
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