Category Archives: Opportunities

Apply for The Company of Biologists Gurdon Summer Studentships

The Company of Biologists Gurdon Summer Studentship scheme was initiated by the BSDB in 2014 to provide highly motivated undergraduate students with an opportunity to engage in practical research during their summer vacation. Each year, ten successful applicants spend eight weeks in the research laboratories of their choices. For the last four years, the quality of projects and feedback we receive has been outstanding – as is clearly illustrated by reports from previous awardees.

The new round of applications is now open and close annually on March 31st. Please, look at our dedicated web page for eligibility and application procedures.

New BSDB website for junior members providing career advice

If you are a junior BSDB member, please see our separate website providing support for academic and non-academic careers, clearly illustrating why the BSDB is such a great society!

The website was initiated by our postdoc representative Michelle Ware (group of Jenny Morton in Cambridge; 2015-18) and PhD representative Alexandra Ashcroft (group of Anne Ferguson-Smith in Cambridge; 2015-18) on the basis of  feedback obtained via the 2015 survey of student and postdoc BSDB members. To make sure that the page continues to serve your needs and expectations, please don’t hesitate to send in your ideas, corrections and feedback. Simply write to or

Brief summary of the BSDB PhD/postdoc site:

  • Advice for a successful academic career
    • Funding lists for postdoctoral research, starting your own group or PhD studentships
    • Eminent developmental biologists are sharing their Career stories to elucidate the rationale behind their decisions
    • Society members provide snapshot Timelines to demonstrate the multitudes of routes to running your own group.  These lists are unique in that successful members of our society have offered themselves up as “advisors” to the community. They will answer questions about the process of a given application.
    • Our Toolkit page (under construction) will highlight the academic skills uniquely gained in Developmental Biology.
  • Advice for those looking to leave academia
    • Developmental Biologists who left the field share their Career stories to show the breadth of what’s possible, and how to get there
    • Our Toolkit page (under construction) will highlight the transferable skills uniquely gained in Developmental Biology
  • CV Boosters page (under construction)
    • will offer advice on Consulting, Entrepreneurship, Public Engagement, Science communication and Science Policy
  • Events
    • alerts to our upcoming career events and looks back at past events we organised

Why not just visit our PhD/postdoc website and see for yourself?

Please, advocate Developmental Biology!

To promote Developmental Biology and bring across the importance of fundamental research in this field, we all should have our elevator pitches ready at all times – whenever there is an opportunity to engage with audiences about our discipline – be it with the public, students, fellow scientists or policy makers. We made a first attempt at providing a concise rationale and ideas that can be woven into such conversations (see our “Advocacy” tab).
The arguments presented can and must still be improved and complemented. Therefore, we would like to invite you to send in your thoughts and ideas, potential corrections, suggestions for improvement, additions, new arguments and/or potential links to supporting resources – all with the aim of further strengthening the message that we need to bring across (please, send to In particular those working in evo-devo or plant development, please come forward and make your contributions by helping us explain the importance of your subjects and extend this resource for the benefit of all.
If you would like to use some of the ideas currently presented, please download PowerPoint slides with the advocacy information here. If you are already active in science communication or plan to do so, please, also have a look at our public engagement outreach collection which can be found under our “Outreach” tab, and have a look at the special issue on science communication in “Seminars in Cell & Developmental Biology” (LINK).

Send your nominations for BSDB committee members by 7 March

We ask for nominations for three new BSDB committee members, who will commence their 5 year term in October 2017 to replace three members retiring this year. Committee members will be required to (make every attempt to) attend two committee meetings per year, one of which coincides with the annual BSDB Spring Meeting.

All nominations must be proposed by a member of the BSDB, and seconded by another member, and must also be accompanied by a statement from the nominee that they are willing to serve if elected. Please send your nominations to as soon as possible, latest by Friday 7th of March 2017.

If a vote is required, the election will take place at this year’s BSDB AGM, which will be held during this year’s BSDB Joint Spring Meeting (Warwick, 2-5 April 2017). In this case, a short verbal statement of support for the nominee will be required, preferably presented by the proposer or seconder.

Reflecting on the student & postdoc events at the BSCB/BSDB Spring Meeting

Firstly, thank-you so much to everyone that participated in the student and postdoc events. It was lovely to meet many of you and we hope you had a great time.

Career workshop

From the BSDB student/postdoc survey results last year, it was evident that most people wanted to find out more about ‘alternative’ careers other than those on the traditional route of academia. With more PhDs being awarded and few top level jobs there is a need to provide more information as to what else can you do with your PhD. For this reason, we chose to focus this year’s careers session on alternative careers to academia. The highly attended session took the format of roundtable discussions and covered a plethora of topics including but not limited to, consulting, publishing, academic fellowships and engaging with the media. We would like to thank all the table leaders who provided stimulating discussions. This event wouldn’t have been possible without you!

Obtaining a lectureship/fellowship

  • Claudia Barros (Peninsula School of Medicine, Plymouth University)
  • Paul Conduit (Henry Dale Fellow, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge)
  • James Wakefield (University of Exeter)

Careers outside of academia

  • Katherine Brown (Editor, Development)
  • Anne Wiblin (Research Collaborations Manager, Abcam)
  • Caroline Grant (Senior Manager, Accenture)
  • Valentina Sasselli (Associate Publisher, Cell Biology)

Science Communication

  • Andreas Prokop (University of Manchester)
  • Cat Vicente (Community Manager, The Node)

From the feedback, we realise how valuable it is for young scientists to talk to other scientists who have trained as cell or developmental biologists and go on to have successful ‘alternative’ careers.  For future workshops, we intend to build on this theme and invite an even more diverse selection of speakers.

Some selected comments from the participants:

  • ‘Open and honest speakers, Enough time to discuss and explore career prerequisites, responsibilities and prospects’
  • ‘Great organisation and table choices, Thank you! I feel quite optimistic now!’
  • ‘Table leaders were friendly, easy to talk to and answered all questions’
  • ‘Learning about career paths, Variety of careers amongst speakers’

Click here for a more in depth summary of the workshop.


Science Breakfasts

This was the first year that we ran science breakfasts, whose goal was to facilitate informal discussions between junior researchers and scientists at the top of their field. A small number of students and postdocs got to participate in this event, discussing everything from research, careers and life in general with Abigail Tucker, Ottoline Leyser, Jordan Raff, Lidia Vasilieva and Thomas Surrey – who we are really grateful for giving up their time.

Student social

student-postdocs-2 This year the reps decided it would be fun to do something more interactive for the student/postdoc social. We randomly attached a name to the back of every guest, where each name was one-half of a famous pair, such as Romeo and Juliet. Each guest could not see their own name but could see the names of other guests. Using yes-no questions, each guest had to work out who they were and then find the other half of their pair. Each pair were given the task to build the tallest possible tower using marshmallows and spaghetti. The pairs were then grouped into teams of ten which competed against each other in a round of science pictionary.

Thank-you to all the sponsors who donated gifts. For the pair that found their pair first won a bound notebook each from Horizon and sweets. Class Learning provided a voucher for two books up to £100, which was awarded to the winners of spaghetti towers (Erik Clark, Gautham Dey and their winning tower pictured here).

Chocolates and sweets from the BSDB committee were awarded to the winning teams after the Pictionary round. Molecular biology of the Cell (Garland Science) was given to the winner of the best image (Rachna Narayanan with a drawing of WALL-E).

Student Symposium

This year the graduate student symposium was moved to the middle of the meeting, resulting in excellent attendance. This was a truly excellent event – the speakers covered a diverse range of topics in an engaging manner. Some talks even got mentioned in the twitterverse!

The format was also altered so that there were six fifteen minute presentations and six five minute presentations. All the speakers did an excellent job – particular mention must be made for everyone who managed to describe their complex research in just five minutes!

We hope to see many of you next year. If you have any comments or ideas please get in touch with Alex ( or Michelle (; especially if you have ideas for games to play in the student social, know someone who would be a great table leader for the careers workshop or if there is someone with whom you would really like to have breakfast.