London Health Research Day: Shining a light on opportunity


By Tomi Nano, PhD Candidate and Terenz Escartin, MSc Candidate

On March 28, graduate trainees from Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, Lawson Health Research Institute and the Faculty of Health Sciences showcased their scientific discoveries at the 2017 London Health Research Day (LHRD) event. With hundreds of participants, LHRD shines a spotlight on the health research being conducted in London and provides graduate trainees with a unique opportunity to present their work.

As always, there was high caliber of research presented during poster sessions and platform presentations. Poster sessions were a hive of scientific discussions as crowds formed between the many rows of poster presenters. The enthusiasm of the platform presenters was contagious, sparking new hope of solving health-related problems with novel discoveries across multiple fields.

Graduate trainees are trained to be independent learners and assess their work carefully through critical thinking and reasoning. As a result, many dedicate themselves to their laboratories and may not have a lot of time to network with other fellow trainees. Attending LHRD and having the chance to see the research projects graduate trainees from different departments are working on is a great opportunity to make valuable connections and build potential future collaborations.

 It has been said that public speaking is one of the greatest fears. Now, imagine a graduate trainee who recently started their project and has to give a presentation at an international conference in front of scientists and experts who have 20 to 30 years of experience in that field. One of the best ways of getting better at presenting and public speaking is through practise. Starting small and practising speaking in front of small crowds will help graduate trainees to gradually get more comfortable speaking to groups and allow them to gain confidence speaking to larger audiences. LHRD is a perfect compromise between department-specific seminar talks, held in small to medium size university classrooms, and broad international platforms.

With so many academic and career-centred pathways to explore, graduate trainees have a lot of options to consider before they complete their studies. Some of the most common questions trainees ponder are ‘What’s next?’ and ‘How can I get a job outside of academia?’ While there are many graduate trainees who have serious interests in pursuing a career in academia, there are also others who would like to venture into other lines of work that include industry and entrepreneurship. LHRD featured many professional workshops that aimed to help trainees understand how they can take their career to the next level, start exploring diverse professional opportunities and expanding their network.  

One of the most memorable moments of LHRD 2017 was the keynote speaker who approached a scientific presentation in a unique way. Dr. Paul Thagard gave a big picture approach to the importance and implications of philosophical thinking in the context of cognitive science and addressed mental health. The way his presentation was framed and delivered was engaging and helped to bring new insight to the issues he touched upon.

While LHRD serves to highlight the groundbreaking research taking place in London, it is also a valuable learning experience for graduate trainees to meet new people, practise their presentation skills and gain new professional insight.